Friday, November 29, 2013

Friday Favorites - Birthday Blossoms Next Week

Next week my favorite person and I will be celebrating her birthday with a little concert featuring two of our favorite sons. The Cactus Blossoms will be performing the CD release concert for their new album, Live at the Turf Club. You can get more info HERE. If you're there, be sure to say "Happy Birthday" to Cheri.

"Happy Man on a Gloomy Day" is one of the songs on their new CD. Here's a video of a live performance of that song from last summer.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thursday Thinking - Thanksgiving Prayers

The Lord be with you. 
    And also with you.
Lift up your hearts.
    We lift them to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
    It is right to give him thanks and praise.

Accept, O Lord, our thanks and praise for all that you have done for us. We thank you for the splendor of the whole creation, for the beauty of this world, for the wonder of life, and for the mystery of love.

We thank you for the blessing of family and friends, and for the loving care which surrounds us on every side.

We thank you for setting us at tasks which demand our best efforts, and for leading us to accomplishments which satisfy and delight us.

We thank you also for those disappointments and failures that lead us to acknowledge our dependence on you alone.

Above all, we thank you for your Son Jesus Christ; for the truth of his Word and the example of his life; for his steadfast obedience, by which he overcame temptation; for his dying, through which he overcame death; and for his rising to life again, in which we are raised to the life of your kingdom.

Grant us the gift of your Spirit, that we may know him and make him known; and through him, at all times and in all places, may give thanks to you in all things. Amen.

Let us give thanks to God our Father for all his gifts so freely bestowed upon us. For the beauty and wonder of your creation, in earth and sky and sea.
    We thank you, Lord.

For all that is gracious in the lives of men and women, revealing the image of Christ,
    We thank you, Lord.

For our daily food and drink, our homes and families, and our friends,
    We thank you, Lord.

For minds to think, and hearts to love, and hands to serve,
    We thank you, Lord.

For health and strength to work, and leisure to rest and play,
    We thank you, Lord.

For the brave and courageous, who are patient in suffering and faithful in adversity,
    We thank you, Lord.

For all valiant seekers after truth, liberty, and justice,
    We thank you, Lord.

For the communion of saints, in all times and places,
    We thank you, Lord.

Above all, we give you thanks for the great mercies and promises given to us in Christ Jesus our Lord; To him be praise and glory, with you, O Father, and the Holy Spirit, now and for ever.

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Wednesday Words - Now Thank We All Our God

Now thank we all our God, with heart and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things has done, in Whom this world rejoices;
Who from our mothers’ arms has blessed us on our way
With countless gifts of love, and still is ours today.

O may this bounteous God through all our life be near us,
With ever joyful hearts and blessed peace to cheer us;
And keep us in His grace, and guide us when perplexed;
And free us from all ills, in this world and the next!

All praise and thanks to God the Father now be given;
The Son and Him Who reigns with Them in highest Heaven;
The one eternal God, whom earth and Heaven adore;
For thus it was, is now, and shall be evermore.

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

The text for this hymn, Nun danket alle Gott,  was written in the early 17th century (c. 1636) by Martin Rinkart, a Lutheran pastor who lived and served in Eilenberg, Saxony. The wonderful music we now associate with his words was based on a tune attributed to Johann Crüger, but later harmonized and perfected by J.S. Bach and Felix Mendelssohn.

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

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

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Tuesday Tomes - Pinocchio and Moral Imagination

Last month, I attended the 18th Annual Paul Holmer Lecture at the University of Minnesota, sponsored by MacLaurinCSF. The speaker was Vigen Guroian, author of Tending the Heart of Virtue: How Classic Stories Awaken a Child's Moral Imagination.

At one point in the lecture, Guroian made a few comments about Carlo Collodi's classic story, Pinocchio. This reminded me that I have never read the original story and piqued my interest. So, right there and then I opened up the Amazon app on my phone and ordered the Penguin Classic edition.

Several weeks later now, having read the original Pinocchio, I can report that it is a far cry from the Disney-fied version familiar to most people. It's a story that explores values, maturity, personal identity, spiritual weakness, self-deceit, and the struggle for self-control. It's a children's fantasy, but it focuses on the same human struggle the Apostle Paul describes in Romans 11 – doing what we know we shouldn't do, and failing to do what we know we ought to.

Here are a few words about Pinocchio excerpted from Guroian's book, Tending the Heart of Virtue.
Pinocchio is a wooden puppet, and as the blue-haired fairy says to him, puppets never grow: "They are born puppets, they live puppets and die puppets." The deeper meaning belongs to the metaphor of "woodenness."

This woodenness of his mind and will, and not the matter of being physically made of wood, is Pinocchio's greatest obstacle to "growing up." ... Collodi's Pinocchio is no mere innocent, and the wrongs he commits are, more often than not, not merely the mistakes of ignorance but the consequences of a hard head, undisciplined passions, and a misdirected will that resists good advice.

In the Disney version, real boyhood is bestowed on Pinocchio as a reward for being good by the Blue Fairy with a touch of her magic wand; or, as the Blue Fairy herself says, because Pinocchio has proven himself "brave, truthful, and unselfish." In Disney's imagination this is magic. In theological terms this is works righteousness.

By moral description, the Disney story presents the virtues as the completion and very essence of Pinocchio's humanity—once he has proven himself "brave, truthful, and unselfish" he is transformed into a real boy.

Collodi views things differently. In his story, Pinocchio becomes a real flesh-and-blood human child after he awakens from a dream in which the blue-haired fairy forgives him for his former waywardness and present shortcomings, while she also praises him for the good path he has taken by showing a son's love for his father. For Collodi, real boyhood is not so much a reward as it is the visible sign of a moral task that has been conscientiously pursued, a task that even at that moment when Pinocchio is transformed from wood into flesh and blood is not yet wholly completed. Pinocchio's filial love, obedience, truthfulness, and self-expenditure for the sake of others ultimately triumph over his primal propensity to be selfish and self-centered. His good heart with its innate capacity to love finally dominates over his wooden head.
 • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Tending the Heart of Virtue: How Classic Stories Awaken a Child's Moral Imagination
by Vigen Guroian 

Guroian illuminates the complex ways in which fairy tales and fantasies educate the moral imagination from earliest childhood. Examining a wide range of stories--from "Pinocchio" and "The Little Mermaid" to "Charlotte's Web," "The Velveteen Rabbit," "The Wind in the Willows," and the "Chronicles of Narnia"--he argues that these tales capture the meaning of morality through vivid depictions of the struggle between good and evil, in which characters must make difficult choices between right and wrong, or heroes and villains contest the very fate of imaginary worlds. 

Monday, November 25, 2013

Monday Music - If We Confess

If we confess our sins
He is faithful and just
And will forgive us our sins
And purify us from all unrighteousness.

If we confess our sins
He is faithful and just
And will forgive us our sins
And purify us from all unrighteousness.

O Lord, I have sinned,
Touch my life, make me pure again.
I wanna walk in the light,
Renew my spirit, make it right again,
Deliverer, Redeemer, and Friend.

If we confess our sins
He is faithful and just
And will forgive us our sins
And purify us from all unrighteousness.

"If We Confess" from Songs for the Real World,
Words and Music by Dave Burkum, © Copyright 1992.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Sunday Supplication - Fruitful Lives

Almighty God, we ask you to help us turn away darkness and to put on the armor of light.

Today, as we live in this place and in this time help us to hold fast to Jesus. Thank you that he came to live among us in humility. Thank you for the promise that he will one day come again in glory and raise us to eternal life.

Forgive us for the sins we’ve committed. Relieve our guilty consciences. Purify our hearts and transform us that by your Spirit we might turn away from what is wrong and, instead, love to do what is right. Make us ready and able to forgive those who have sinned against us. Make us merciful and forgiving toward others, as you have been merciful and forgiving toward us.

O God, thank you for the fruitful lives we are able to live through Christ. Help us to stay connected to Jesus.  By your power and grace, 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.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Friday, November 22, 2013

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Thursday Thinking - Women in Church

Mike Goldsworthy, Lead Pastor of Parkcrest Christian Church in Long Beach, CA, recently blogged about the roles and giftedness of women in the church in a post titled, On Women in the Church. Honestly, I wish this were old news, but it's not. We really should have worked through this issue by now, but in many Christian circles and churches we haven't. Some haven't moved at all, and worse yet, haven't even considered the need or possibility of moving.

Many churches, including the church where I serve, do not have any explicit policies limiting the roles of women, but may do so implicitly (intentionally or otherwise) by abiding denominational tradition, unspoken expectations, and unexamined assumptions. Moving beyond these old limitations takes pastoral care, wisdom, and patience, but church leaders must have the courage and conviction to help their churches do so. Churches may not do the same things in exactly the same ways or at the same speeds, but they need to thoughtfully, prayerfully, and humbly do something.

Scot McKnight re-posted Goldsworthy's article on the Jesus Creed Blog with this introductory remark: "One of the strategies to recognize, encourage and mobilize the gifts God gives to women is for males, in positions that can render decisions or empower women, to speak up, stand up and create opportunities for women to speak." I couldn't agree more, and I'm adding my "Amen" by posting about it today.

Here are a couple of excerpts from Goldsworthy's article:
"Today, I was challenged in a sermon by one of the best preachers I get to hear on a regular basis. That preacher happened to be a woman. ... If our church did not allow her to preach, we would be missing out on that gift. If she was relegated to only teaching children or women, I would have missed the challenge that I received today from her teaching, and so would the 50% of our congregation that happens to be the same gender as me."

"The church that I grew up in didn’t have space for women to lead and teach in that kind of way. In fact, I don’t remember a woman ever even doing something such as serving communion. I don’t know if it was an official policy or a stated theological position, but it was just known that didn’t happen."

"So, to my friends who lead churches where there are incredibly gifted women who don’t fit into the narrow roles that you have defined as acceptable for them. As you find yourself in battles as they try use their gifts, and you don’t have a place for them…Send them my way. We have a church full of strong, capable women serving and using their gifts, but I could always use even more role models for my daughter. I don’t know that I have a better answer than that. I can’t change your church, but I can keep making sure that there is space in the one I lead for people to serve with the gifts God has given them, regardless of gender."
Click Here to read the entire article: "On Women in the Church..."

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Wednesday Words - Forgetfulness

The name of the author is the first to go
followed obediently by the title, the plot,
the heartbreaking conclusion, the entire novel
which suddenly becomes one you have never read,
never even heard of,

as if, one by one, the memories you used to harbor
decided to retire to the southern hemisphere of the brain,
to a little fishing village where there are no phones.

Long ago you kissed the names of the nine Muses goodbye
and watched the quadratic equation pack its bag,
and even now as you memorize the order of the planets,

something else is slipping away, a state flower perhaps,
the address of an uncle, the capital of Paraguay.

Whatever it is you are struggling to remember,
it is not poised on the tip of your tongue,
not even lurking in some obscure corner of your spleen.

It has floated away down a dark mythological river
whose name begins with an L as far as you can recall,
well on your own way to oblivion where you will join those
who have even forgotten how to swim and how to ride a bicycle.

No wonder you rise in the middle of the night
to look up the date of a famous battle in a book on war.
No wonder the moon in the window seems to have drifted
out of a love poem that you used to know by heart.

"Forgetfulness" by Billy Collins from
Questions about Angels, ©Copyright 1999.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Tuesday Tome - Who Is This Man?

Who Is This Man? by John Ortberg is the reading selection for my current book club at Valley Christian Church.

Our third and final session will be next Tuesday night, Tuesday, November 5, at 7:00pm. We will be discussing Chapter 11 through the end of the book.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Monday Music - My Turning

I am standing at a crossroads
Where so many have stood before;
Fools and sages from all ages,
The rich and famous, the forgotten and poor.
And Joshua's voice still echos in the place,
Saying, "Choose who you’ll serve today."
I've got to follow one of two roads;
Will I turn or turn away?

This, this is my turn,
This is my turning.
This, this is my turn,
This is my turning.

This is where Saul stood on the road to Damascus
Blinded by a heavenly light.
This is where Stephen was stoned for the Gospel
And Bartimaeus received his sight.
Peter preached here at Pentecost–
Three thousand turned their hearts that day.
This is the place where a rich young ruler
Thought the price was just to much to pay.

This was their turn,
This was their turning.
This was their turn,
This was their turning.

And I can hear Jesus calling my name,
Saying, "I've got a purpose for you;"
But just like Jacob at Peniel
I am wrestling with what to do.
But there's a great cloud witnesses
Traveling down that road,
And I'm gonna follow in their footsteps,
I’ve decided the way to go.

This is my turn,
This is my turning.
This, this is my turn,
This is my turning.

This, this is my turn,
This is my turning.
This is my turn,
This is my turning.
This is my turning.

"My Turning" from So Far to Go, words and music by Dave Burkum. © Copyright 1993 by Dave Burkum (

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Sunday Supplication - Calm Our Hearts

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 all people. Save us from sin and divisiveness 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 make us able to do what is right.

Show us how to 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.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Friday Favorites - Silverwood Park

I love Minnesota parks and lakes. My new favorite is Silverwood Park in St. Anthony. It offers beautiful trails, an art gallery, gorgeous lake views, a coffee shop, free wifi, lots of tables, and soft couches around a big old fireplace.

It's a great place to meet with a friend. A wonderful place for walking, praying, writing, drawing, reading, and thinking. In the summer you can canoe on the lake. The trails are maintained all through the winter months. I'm planning to do some snow-shoeing there this winter.

Thank you, Three Rivers Park District, for this beautiful retreat nestled right here in the metro!

From the Silverwood Park Website:
Nestled along the shores of Silver Lake, and with a focus on arts and the environment, Silverwood Park is unique in the metro area. Minutes from a busy freeway, it offers visitors an opportunity to relax in tranquil beauty and provides inspiration for artists. Stop in the coffee shop, bring an instrument and share your musical talents, or simply set-up your easel in the park to paint. Artists are welcome here!

Nature-inspired art classes taught by Silverwood staff and outside expert instructors are offered year-round. Sign up for a ceramics class, join in on a photo workshop, or expand your musical skills. Whether you’re interested in mastering a new creative skill, seeking a peaceful retreat, planning a birthday pARTy, looking for a site for a family picnic, searching for a beautiful setting for a wedding, or just meeting up with friends for a cup of coffee, Silverwood has something to offer everyone from preschoolers to seniors.

Trails offering spectacular views of Silver Lake, restored prairie, and mature oak forests circle the park and provide inspiration to all. And the visitor center bustles with activity on a daily basis. Other park amenities include an art gallery, education facilities, event rental space, a café/coffee shop, picnic sites, fishing opportunities, canoe and kayak rentals, an outdoor performance space and more.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Thursday Thinking - The Upside of Down

My wife came across an interesting post on a website she follows called Everyday Health. The short article suggests that there may be a number benefits associated with the difficulties of personal depression. She read it aloud to me one morning last week (not sure why she thought it might be of interest to an upbeat guy like me), and I found it to be pretty plausible.
If you’ve ever grappled with depression, there’s a good chance you’ve got nothing pleasant to say about the illness — and for good reason: Depression can leave you brokenhearted, hopeless, and uninterested in the activities you once loved. But according to some mental health experts, depression has a positive side. These “glass-half-full” specialists say that the symptoms of depression may actually be evolutionary adaptations. 
The article goes on to describe seven possible upsides to the downer of depression. If this list makes you curious, you should click the link to the complete article and read the rationale for each of these potential benefits.
1. You’re a better problem-solver.
2. You learn how to cope.
3. You have better relationships.
4. You’re more compassionate.
5. You buck stress.
6. You’re a realist.
7. You can detect deception. 
Is Depression Good for You?
By Madeline Vann, MPH
Medically reviewed by Lindsey Marcellin, MD, MPH
So the next time you're feeling bad, remember, there may be some good stuff going on too. Some blessings come with the blues. I'm feeling better already.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Wednesday Words - i thank You God

i thank You God for most this amazing
day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes
(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday; this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings: and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)
how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any–lifted from the no
of all nothing–human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?
(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

“i thank You God for most this amazing” by e. e. cummings.

from 100 Selected Poems  by e. e. cummings,
© Copyright 1954 by e. e. cummings.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Tuesday Tomes - Christianity and Sexuality

For the last couple of years I have been trying to read widely about Christian perspectives on same-sex practice, attraction, and identity. These perspectives have ranged from personal, practical, theological, anthropological, psychological, and biographical.

The reason I need to study this thoroughly is pretty obvious. My responsibilities as a Christian pastor and teacher make it necessary for me to be as informed and thoughtful as I can possibly be on this complex issue. There is no lack of controversy or opinion on this topic, but a shortage of humility, loving concern, and serious appreciation for the difficulties involved is constantly on display from all sides.

Two books I recently completed are: Homosexuality and Christian Faith, edited by Walter Wink, and What the Bible Really Says about Homosexuality, by Daniel A. Helminiak. Both books make a case for affirming monogamous same-sex relationships that are loving, committed, and egalitarian. They both argue that the biblical prohibitions related to same-sex practice are not a blanket condemnation of homosexuality per se, but rather a condemnation of same-sex practices that were violent, dehumanizing, pagan, and idolatrous.

I am currently working my way through The Bible and Homosexual Practice by Robert A. Gagnon. Gagnon counters attempts, as the aforementioned books, to classify the Christian opposition to same-sex practice as culturally obsolete or wrong-headed biblical interpretation. He endeavors to demonstrate systematically why efforts to dismiss the Bible's rejection of same-sex practice fail to give sufficient consideration to the biblical texts.

In addition to study, I value opportunities for thoughtful discussion. If this is a subject you would like to discuss or study with me, I would welcome hearing from you.

• • • • • • • • • • • • •

From the publisher's description:
"Gagnon offers the most thorough analysis to date of the biblical texts relating to homosexuality. His strong and clearly articulated argument establishes that the Bible contains a unanimous witness defining same-sex intercourse as sin. He does so while rigorously engaging biblical scholars and historians who have written both for and against this understanding of same-sex intercourse. In addition, he demonstrates systematically why attempts to classify as irrelevant for our contemporary context the Bible's rejection of same-sex intercourse fail to do justice to the biblical texts. His conclusions are clear and compassionate, as he cautions readers on all sides of the debate against a truncated gospel, and challenges all to strive for a holistic view of the command to love God and neighbor."

From the Barnes & Noble overview of Wink's book:
Issues surrounding homosexuality threaten to divide the Christian churches and the people within them. This unique resource presents short pieces from some of the nation's most prominent church leaders - Protestant and Catholic, mainline and evangelical - who address the fundamental moral imperatives about homosexuality. Together they invite the reader to open his or her heart to the Spirit, to tolerance, and to Gospel values. Through personal testimony, factual clarification, and moral suasion, they provide much-needed clarity on the biblical witness and biblical authority, the nature or character of homosexuality and sexual orientation, and many related topics. 

From the Library Journal description of Helminiak's book:
Helminiak, a Roman Catholic priest, has done careful reading in current biblical scholarship about homosexuality. While cautioning against viewing biblical teaching as "the last word on sexual ethics," he stresses the need for accurate understanding of what the biblical "facts" are and concludes that "the Bible supplies no real basis for the condemnation of homosexuality."

Monday, November 11, 2013

Monday Music - She Loves You

You think you lost your love,
Well, I saw her yesterday.
It's you she's thinking of
And she told me what to say.

She says she loves you
And you know that can't be bad.
She loves you
And you know you should be glad.

She said you hurt her so
She almost lost her mind.
Now she said she knows
You're not the hurting kind.

She says she loves you
And you know that can't be bad.
Yes, she loves you
And you know you should be glad. Ooh!

She loves you,
She loves you,
With a love like that
You know you should be glad.

You know it's up to you,
I think it's only fair,
Pride can hurt you, too,
So apologize to her

Because she loves you
And you know that can't be bad.
She loves you
And you know you should be glad. Ooh!

She loves you,
She loves you,
With a love like that
You know you should be Glad!

She loves you,
She loves you,
with a love like that
You know you should be Glad.

She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Words and Music by John Lennon and Paul McCartney.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Sunday Supplication - Raise and Transform Us

O God, we give you thanks for your Son, Jesus, who came into the world to overcome evil, and make us children of God and heirs of eternal life. Help us to become holy even as he is holy. And make us ready for the day when he will come again in glory to set the world right.

Gracious Father, in our weakness and selfishness, we often fail each other, fail ourselves, and fail you. We humbly recognize our need for forgiveness and restoration. We also recognize the hope and power we have in Christ.  Raise us and transform us by the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead. Forgive us our sins, and make us ready and able and quick to forgive others, even as you forgive us.

You, O God, give us hope and salvation. Save us from the forces and the circumstances that threaten to defeat us. Lead, teach, transform, shape, and strengthen us—that we might delight in your will and walk in your ways to the glory of your Name.

Through Christ, we pray. Amen.

Friday, November 08, 2013

Friday Favorites - Foyle's War

Foyle's War is a favorite television series of mine. There are not many things on television worth watching, but Foyle's War is among those precious few. It's a British detective drama featuring actor Michael Kitchen as the unflappable and vigilant Detective Chief Superintendent Christopher Foyle. The drama is set in World War II Sussex, England in the city of Hastings. While so many other people are off and away fighting the war, Foyle fights crime on the home front.

There are currently seven seasons available for viewing, and another season in the works (scheduled for release in 2015). Each season has three or four episodes, and each episode is about 90 minutes long. In just the last six months, Cheri and I devoured and thoroughly enjoyed the entire series.  Thank you, Netflix and PBS!

If you haven't yet discovered Foyle, it's jolly good timing for you. What could be better for the approaching winter months than a nice long series of who-done-its? Check it out and be sure to let me know if it becomes one of your favorites too.

Foyle's War on Acorn Website
Foyle's War on YouTube

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Thursday Thinking - Use Only As Directed

In September, This American Life aired a program about acetaminophen, the active ingredient in Tylenol. Though the drug is one of the most used painkillers in America (you've probably got some in your home or office), data from the federal government establishes that it has also caused the most deaths.

Each year, over 150 Americans die from an accidental overdose, and the amount it takes to overdose is much lower than you might think. It's especially important for you be careful with dosage for children. If you use Tylenol, generic acetaminophen, or other products that include acetaminophen (such as cold medicine), you should take the time to listen to this program. It will help you be more informed and thoughtful about the use of this drug.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Wednesday Words - How Is It That the Snow

How is it that the snow  
amplifies the silence,  
slathers the black bark on limbs,  
heaps along the brush rows?  

Some deer have stood on their hind legs  
to pull the berries down.  
Now they are ghosts along the path,  
snow flecked with red wine stains.  

This silence in the timbers.  
A woodpecker on one of the trees  
taps out its story,  
stopping now and then in the lapse  
of one white moment into another.

“How Is It That the Snow” by Robert Haight
from Emergences and Spinner Falls, © Copyright © 2002.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Tuesday Tome - Valley Book Club Tonight!

Who Is This Man? by John Ortberg is the reading selection for my current book club at Valley Christian Church. Our second session will be tonight, Tuesday, November 5, at 7:00pm. We will be discussing Chapter 6 - 11, pp. 74-149.

Monday, November 04, 2013

Monday Music - Even with My Broken Heart

Deep inside my broken heart
There's a taste of bitter tears,
There's a sound of crying.
Hidden in the darkest part
There's a list of ways to fail,
There's a fear of trying.
Though the rain is cold
And the bitter winds blow right through,
I will not let go
Of the reason for hope I've found in you.

Jesus guard my troubled mind,
Tired of this road I'm on–
Weary in well-doing.
You're the way I hope to find
Something true to lean upon,
A life worth pursuing.
Though the night seems long
And I can't see beyond my pain,
I await the dawn
When you'll turn all my trials into gain.

You can calm the raging sea–
You can set the prisoner free–
So touch me deep inside my broken heart.
You can still the restless soul–
You can make the wounded whole so hold me,
Show me how to make a start
Even with my broken heart.

Somewhere in my broken heart
There's a hope that still remains,
There's a candle burning.
Deeper than these wounds and scars
There's a peace that won't let go,
There's a calm assurance.
Though it's hard to see,
In your arms I won't be afraid.
I believe you'll keep
Everyone of the promises you've made.

You can calm the raging sea–
You can set the prisoner free–
So touch me deep inside my broken heart.
You can still the restless soul–
You can make the wounded whole so hold me,
Show me how to make a start
Even with my broken heart.

"Even with My Broken Heart" by Dave Burkum 
from So Far to Go. © Copyright 1992 by Dave Burkum.

Sunday, November 03, 2013

Sunday Supplication - The Holy Scriptures

Lord God, 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. Forgive us our sins. Renew us by your Spirit. 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, 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 us that we are following Jesus.

Through Christ, we pray. Amen.

Saturday, November 02, 2013

Friday, November 01, 2013

Friday Favorites - Aster Cafe Sunday Brunch

Sunday jazz brunch (11am - 2pm) at the Aster Cafe is something we always enjoy. With our Sunday morning church responsibilities, we really have to hustle to get there by 1pm. That's okay though, because we always find it to be worth the effort. Once we get there, we always feel relaxed and refreshed.

The music from Patty and the Buttons is always good for the soul and the brunch menu is filled with good things for the body. The Aster Cafe is located on historic Main Street along the Mississippi River near the Stone Arch Bridge.

If you watch this video closely you might catch a glimpse of Cheri and I dancing. Yeah, right! I'm not psychologically capable of that, but I do have a good time watching those crazy dancers have fun. You go ahead and dance, I'll be sitting over in the corner, tapping my toe and enjoying a delicious egg sandwich.