Friday, January 31, 2014

Friday Favorites - Chili Cook-Off & Winter Praise Night

It's Friday! By now, I hope you've managed to dig out from yesterday's snowfall and recover from those traumatic commutes.

I can't think of a better way to end the work week and start the weekend than the 2014 Valley Chili Cook-Off and Winter Praise Night.  It's free. Everyone has a chance to win Twins Dugout Tickets. And all donations go to help Valley Summer Missions Trips.

Come and enjoy some good food, and stick around to enjoy a wonderful time of praise music led by Valley's worship pastor, Jonathan Miller, and a team of musicians he's pulled together for the occasion.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Thursday Thinking - Pete Seeger

Pete Seeger, who died earlier this week at age 94, is being remembered as a social activist and folk musician. There is no question about Seeger's importance in the history of American folk music. He's a huge part of the soundtrack of my life. Even so, I'm remembering him most as a man who thought a lot about what it takes to save the world. That's something worth noting because it's not every day you come across a man interested in saving the world.

Saving the world is why Seeger loved folk music. More than the music, he loved the way music lifted and communicated words, ideas, dreams, hopes, and the human spirit. Seeger was an artist, but he harnessed every artistic impulse he had to serve his longing to save humanity. He loved music because he understood it had the power to bring people together, to articulate hope, to challenge power, to nurture kindness, to break down barriers, and to build community––all things he believed could change and save the world.

If Pete "had a hammer," he'd hammer in the morning and the evening all over this land. "If he had a bell," he'd do the same. What he had most often was a "song to sing," and he sang about "justice, freedom, and love between his brothers and his sisters." What made him special is that he actually believed that the world could be saved and he wanted to see it saved, and that inspires me.

Washington Post - Seeger, legendary folksinger dies at 94

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Wednesday Words - Heaven

It will be the past
and we'll live there together.

Not as it was to live
but as it is remembered.

It will be the past.
We'll all go back together.

Everyone we ever loved,
and lost, and must remember.

It will be the past.
And it will last forever.

"Heaven" by Patrick Phillips, from Boy.
© The University of Georgia Press, 2008.

Boy by Patrick Phillips

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Tuesday Tome - Unapologetic (Francis Spufford)

I've been enjoying this book so very much. I'll be finishing it up today and will have more to say about it next week. For now, let me just try to pique your interest by giving you a chance to read the first chapter. I'll start with an excerpt and give you a link to the entire chapter. Be careful, though, as it's likely to suck you in like it did me. In that case, you'll need to buy a copy for yourself. 1 - Unapologetic
My daughter has just turned six. Some time over the next year or so, she will discover that her parents are weird. We’re weird because we go to church.

This means—well, as she gets older there’ll be voices telling her what it means, getting louder and louder until by the time she’s a teenager they’ll be shouting right in her ear. It means that we believe in a load of bronze-age absurdities. It means that we don’t believe in dinosaurs. It means that we’re dogmatic. That we’re self-righteous. That we fetishize pain and suffering. That we advocate wishy-washy niceness. That we promise the oppressed pie in the sky when they die. That we’re bleeding hearts who don’t understand the wealth-creating powers of the market. That we’re too stupid to understand the irrationality of our creeds. That we build absurdly complex intellectual structures, full of meaningless distinctions, on the marshmallow foundations of a fantasy. That we uphold the nuclear family, with all its micro-tyrannies and imprisoning stereotypes. That we’re the hairshirted enemies of the ordinary family pleasures of parenthood, shopping, sex and car ownership. That we’re savagely judgmental. That we’d free murderers to kill again. That we think everyone who disagrees with us is going to roast for all eternity. That we’re as bad as Muslims. That we’re worse than Muslims, because Muslims are primitives who can’t be expected to know any better. That we’re better than Muslims, but only because we’ve lost the courage of our convictions. That we’re infantile and can’t do without an illusory daddy in the sky. That we destroy the spontaneity and hopefulness of children by implanting a sick mythology in your minds. That we oppose freedom, human rights, gay rights, individual moral autonomy, a woman’s right to choose, stem cell research, the use of condoms in fighting AIDS, the teaching of evolutionary biology. Modernity. Progress. That we think everyone should be cowering before authority. That we sanctify the idea of hierarchy. That we get all snooty and yuck-no-thanks about transsexuals, but think it’s perfectly normal for middle-aged men to wear purple dresses. That we cover up child abuse, because we care more about power than justice. That we’re the villains in history, on the wrong side of every struggle for human liberty. That if we sometimes seem to have been on the right side of one of said struggles, we weren’t really; or the struggle wasn’t about what it appeared to be about; or we didn’t really do the right thing for the reasons we said we did. That we’ve provided pious cover stories for racism, imperialism, wars of conquest, slavery, exploitation. That we’ve manufactured imaginary causes for real people to kill each other. That we’re stuck in the past. That we destroy tribal cultures. That we think the world’s going to end. That we want to help the world to end. That we teach people to hate their own natural selves. That we want people to be afraid. That we want people to be ashamed. That we have an imaginary friend; that we believe in a sky pixie; that we prostrate ourselves before a god who has the reality status of Santa Claus. That we prefer scripture to novels, preaching to storytelling, certainty to doubt, faith to reason, law to mercy, primary colors to shades, censorship to debate, silence to eloquence, death to life.

But hey, that’s not the bad news. Those are the objections of people who care enough about religion to object to it...


Excerpted from Unapologetic: Why, Despite Everything, Christianity Still Makes Surprising Emotional Sense
Copyright © 2013 by Francis Spufford (HarperOne / HarperCollinsPublishers).

Monday, January 27, 2014

Monday Music - Words of Life

What else can I do?
Why would I follow the blind?
Who else would I listen to?
How else could I find the way and the truth?
Where else can I turn?
What other place would I go?
How else will I ever learn?
Who else do I know with the words of life?

Sometimes your words are not easy
To understand or to hear;
Sometimes even harder when they're crystal clear.
And some turn away from your message,
Closing their hearts and their minds;
But I don't want to leave you, Lord,
I want to stay close by your side.

So what else can I do?
Why would I follow the blind?
Who else would I listen to?
How else could I find the way and the truth?
Where else can I turn?
What other place would I go?
How else will I ever learn?
Who else do I know with the words of life?

So many voices are calling;
So many hands point the way;
But only one hand can raise me on the final day.
I'm looking to you and believing
All you have said is true.
I know you were sent from the Father;
I know he has drawn me to you.

So what else can I do?
Why would I follow the blind?
Who else would I listen to?
How else could I find the way and the truth?
Where else can I turn?
What other place would I go?
How else will I ever learn?
Who else do I know with the words of life?
With the words of life?

Where can I go for the words of life?
Who do I know with the words of life?
Whose words alone are Spirit and life?
Where can I go for the words of life?
For the words of life?

"Words of Life" by Dave Burkum from the CD So Far to Go,
© Copyright 1992 by Dave Burkum.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Sunday Supplication - Answering the Call

O Lord, help us to answer the call of our Savior Jesus Christ. Help us to seriously and readily seek your will for our lives. Help us, by our words and actions, to proclaim the Good News of Jesus to all people. Help us to recognize the salvation he brings and to share that salvation with the world around us.

Thank you for the forgiveness and renewal you give to us through Christ Jesus.  Help us to be forgiving toward each other. And help us to become a redemptive and healing community. Help us to make a saving and healing impact on the world around us.

O God, life is often more than we can face on our own. Help us to navigate our way through our many challenges and conflicts. Help us to live with integrity and care toward others in authentic Christian fellowship. Help us to be an instrument of your grace, your truth, and your peace. Make us a blessing to our community and our world.

Through Christ, we pray. Amen.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Friday Favorites - The Cactus Blossoms

The Cedar Cultural Center, Augsburg College and KFAI radio are hosting a benefit concert TONIGHT, Friday, January 24th to raise funds for the victims and their families of the New Year’s Day fire on Cedar Avenue in Minneapolis.

The fire took the lives of three residents of the apartments above 516 Cedar Ave S, destroyed the Otanga Grocery Store on the ground level of the building and displaced tenants in the ten residential units.

The benefit concert will feature musicians who represent the cultural past of the West Bank neighborhood as well as its present. The Cactus Blossoms will be performing. Here's the entire list of confirmed artists in order of appearance: Martin Devaney (7pm), Spider John Koerner, Phil Heywood, Cactus Blossoms (Duo), DJ Go Getta and the SYAV dancers, Jon Rodine, Southside Desire, Augsburg JIVE with Dalmar and Hodan of Waayaha Cusub, Brass Messengers (11pm).  CLICK HERE for more info and tickets. Cactus Blossoms are also performing tomorrow night (Jan. 25, 7:00pm) at The Current's 9th Birthday Party. Other bands on the line-up that night are: Howler, Heiruspecs, and Caroline Smith.

Tickets are $20. Click Here to purchase or get more info.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Thursday Thinking - Strength to Love

“One of the great tragedies of life is that men seldom bridge the gulf between practice and profession, between doing and saying. A persistent schizophrenia leaves so many of us tragically divided against ourselves. On the one hand, we proudly profess certain sublime and noble principles, but on the other hand, we sadly practice the very antithesis of these principles. How often are our lives characterized by a high blood pressure of creeds and an anemia of deeds!

We talk eloquently about our commitment to the principles of Christianity, and yet our lives are saturated with the practices of paganism. We proclaim our devotion to democracy, but we sadly practice the very opposite of the democratic creed. We talk passionately about peace, and at the same time we assiduously prepare for war. We make our fervent pleas for the high road of justice, and then we tread unflinchingly the low road of injustice.

This strange dichotomy, this agonizing gulf between the ought and the is, represents the tragic theme of man’s earthly pilgrimage."

― Martin Luther King Jr., from Strength to Love.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Wednesday Words - Winter Comes Down

WINTER COMES DOWN SAVAGELY over a little town on the prairie. The wind that sweeps in from the open country strips away all the leafy screens that hide one yard from another in summer, and the houses seem to draw closer together. The roofs, that looked so far away across the green tree-tops, now stare you in the face, and they are so much uglier than when their angles were softened by vines and shrubs.

In the morning, when I was fighting my way to school against the wind, I couldn't see anything but the road in front of me; but in the late afternoon, when I was coming home, the town looked bleak and desolate to me. The pale, cold light of the winter sunset did not beautify—it was like the light of truth itself.

When the smoky clouds hung low in the west and the red sun went down behind them, leaving a pink flush on the snowy roofs and the blue drifts, then the wind sprang up afresh, with a kind of bitter song, as if it said: 'This is reality, whether you like it or not. All those frivolities of summer, the light and shadow, the living mask of green that trembled over everything, they were lies, and this is what was underneath. This is the truth.'

It was as if we were being punished for loving the loveliness of summer.

From My Antonia (Book 2, Chapter 6) by Willa Cather.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Tuesday Tome - NIV Study Bible

Sweeter than Honey is the theme of my current teaching series at Valley Christian Church. Throughout the series, I'm trying to make a case for the desirability of Scripture.

I'm encouraged that a number of people have approached me after worship services the last couple of weeks to tell me they want to get a new Bible and to start reading. They have asked me for a recommendation about what Bible they should buy, and I always encourage them to get the NIV Study Bible. It's a respected translation, very readable, and filled with fantastic footnotes, maps, charts, and other study helps. More than that, I've seen many people make great strides in their personal reading, comprehension, and application by using this study Bible.

From the Back Cover...
Over the last 5 years, the editors of the NIV Study Bible have painstakingly reviewed, revised, and rewritten the notes of the classic, best-selling NIV Study Bible. Over 80 percent of the notes have been revised and adapted from the 1996 update, and close to 30 percent of those notes have been either significantly revised, completely rewritten, or replaced. This update includes the most recent scholarship from a conservative academic perspective and reflects changes to the notes suggested and requested by academics, seminary professors, students, and other readers who have studied and used the NIV Study Bible over the last 15 years.

Features include: Over 20,000 completely revised and updated study notes written specifically for the New International Version by translators of the NIV. Notes are positioned on the text page for easy access Expanded Book Introductions and Outlines In-text maps, charts, diagrams, and illustrations located right where they are needed for easy study.  Center-column cross-reference system / 7 pages of full-color timelines of the Old and New Testaments / 16 pages of full-color maps / Expanded topical index / A Harmony of the Gospels.

About the NIV Study Bible...
The New International Version is the world's most popular modern English Bible translation. Developed by Biblica (formerly the International Bible Society) the New International Version is the result of years of work by the Committee on Bible Translation, overseeing the efforts of many contributing scholars. The translators are drawn from a wide range of denominations and from various countries and they continually review new research in order to ensure the NIV remains at the forefront of accessibility, relevance and authority.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Monday Music - Resting Place

My faith has found a resting place
Not in device or creed –
I trust the Ever-Living One
His wounds for me shall plead.

Enough for me that Jesus died –
This ends my fear and doubt.
A sinful soul, I come to him –
He’ll never cast me out.

I need no other argument,
I need no other plea –
It is enough that Jesus died,
And that he died for me.

My faith is leaning on the word,
The written word of God –
Salvation by my savior’s name,
Salvation by his blood.

My great physician heals the sick,
The lost he came to save.
For me, his precious blood he shed;
For me, his life he gave.

I need no other argument,
I need no other plea –
It is enough that Jesus died,
And that he died for me.

Words by Eliza E. Hewitt in Songs of Joy and Gladness, 1891. 

Hymnals often show the author as Lidie H. Edmunds, Eliza's pseudonymn.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Sunday Supplication - Help Us to Shine

Almighty God, Your Son, Jesus, is the true light than enlightens all people. Help your church to be illuminated by your Word and Spirit. Help us to shine so brightly with the radiance of Christ's glory that he is known, worshiped, and obeyed to the ends of the earth.

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. Give us the courage and the grace we need to restore relationships, heal brokenness, sacrifice our rights, and humble ourselves in order that we might experience forgiveness and reconciliation in our families, our friendships, our church, and our community.

Thank you, Father, for the freedom from sin you make available to us through Christ. Thank you for the saving and transforming power of your Holy Spirit. Renovate our hearts and minds. Help us to want what you want. Make us people who delight in your will, and walk in your ways, to the glory of your name.

Through Christ, we pray. Amen.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Friday Favorites - SHERLOCK

 I'm really looking forward to the new season of Sherlock which begins Sunday night, January 19, on PBS Masterpiece Theater. If you haven't seen the first two seasons, I'd recommend you do that before watching the new season.

Seasons 1 and 2 (six ninety-minute episodes – three per season) are now viewable on Netflix.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Thursday Thinking - Returning to Faith

As a young adult, bestselling author and journalist, Malcolm Gladwell (Blink, Outliers, Tipping Point), walked away from the Christianity he knew as a boy growing up with his family in Ontario. Recently, however, while writing his latest book, David and Goliath, he rediscovered and returned to Christian faith.

In an article just published in Relevant Magazine, Gladwell talks about his journey and just what it was that pulled him back to the possibility and promise of the Gospel.

Excerpt from "How I Rediscovered Faith"
Relevant Magazine (January/February 2014)

I was raised in a Christian home in Southwestern Ontario. My parents took time each morning to read the Bible and pray. Both my brothers are devout. My sister-in-law is a Mennonite pastor. I have had a different experience from the rest of my family. I was the only one to move away from Canada. And I have been the only one to move away from the Church.

I attended Washington Community Fellowship when I lived in Washington D.C. But once I moved to New York, I stopped attending any kind of religious fellowship. I have often wondered why it happened that way: Why had I wandered off the path taken by the rest of my family?

What I understand now is that I was one of those people who did not appreciate the weapons of the spirit. I have always been someone attracted to the quantifiable and the physical...

I have always believed in God. I have grasped the logic of Christian faith. What I have had a hard time seeing is God’s power.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Wednesday Words - Snow at the Farm

My father gets his tractor out.
It is winter, finally—the first
big snow of the year—and

he is eighty-four. He does not leap
into the seat the way that I
remember, but once he's there

he pulls down the brim of his cap,
and all-in-one his legs and arms
work at clutches, throttles, and

levers as he pushes and loads
the snow into neat hills at
the edge of the yard. The sun

is a bright shield in the sky,
something I cannot bear to look at,
and the snow is so white that

it shows black where the plow
cuts in. From the kitchen window
I watch the red tractor moving

back and forth through the blue
and white world, my father's
hands at the wheel.

"Snow at the Farm" by Joyce Sutphen, from First Words
© Red Dragonfly Press, 2010.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Tuesday Tomes - Getting Into the Psalms

Search Me, O God: Praying Reflectively with the Psalms (based on Psalm 139) will be the theme for my 2014 Lent and Easter teaching series at Valley Christian Church. In preparation for that series, I'm reading through these three books. I'm particularly looking for ways the Psalms can help the believer pray reflectively through guilt, fear, doubt, failure, fatigue, betrayal, loss, sickness, confession, grief, disappointment, and other "dark nights" of the soul.

The Case for the Psalms
(N. T. Wright)
Wright seeks to reclaim the power of the Psalms, which were once at the core of prayer life. He argues that, by praying and living the Psalms, we enter into a worldview, a way of communing with God and knowing him more intimately, and receive a map by which we understand the contours and direction of our lives. For this reason, all Christians need to read, pray, sing, and live the Psalms. By providing the historical, literary, and spiritual contexts for reading these hymns from ancient Israel’s songbook, The Case for the Psalms provides the tools for incorporating these divine poems into our sacred practices and into our spirituality itself. (Amazon)

Learning to Pray Through the Psalms 
(James W. Sire)
Sire teaches us to take our appreciation for this rich book of Scripture a step further. Choosing ten specific psalms, Sire offers background information that helps us read each one with deeper insight and then lays out a meditative, step-by-step approach to using the psalmists' words as a guide for our own personal conversation with God. A group study is also included in each chapter, along with a guide for praying through the psalm in community. The Lord loves when his people pray. And his Word is a powerful tool for framing honest, intimate prayers. Sire's innovative approach will enrich our minds and our souls as we read more perceptively and pray with all of our emotions.  (Amazon)

Reflections on the Psalms 
(C. S. Lewis)
Internationally renowned because of his earlier books, among them tape Letters, Surprised by Joy, Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis - making religion provoking, memorable and delightful is still more - latest Reflections on the Psalms. Though he protests that he writes - learned about things in which he is unlearned himself, the reader is likely- thank God for his wise ignorance. Here especially he throws a clear lightly or not, on many of the difficult psalms, such as those which abound with and cursing, and a self-centeredness which seems to assume' that God must be side of the psalmist. These things, which make some psalm singers pre- not there, have a right and proper place, as Mr. Lewis shows us. They - of Psalms more precious still. Many readers owe it to themselves to read - flections if only to learn this hard but simple lesson. Urge everyone to this book. (Kirkus Reviews)

Monday, January 13, 2014

Monday Music - One Lord, One Body

I need you, and you need me–
That’s the way it is in God’s family.
If you’re doing well, you’ll be my friend and guide;
If you need a hand, I’ll be at your side.
One Lord, One Body / One Lord, One Body
One Lord, One Body / One Lord, One Body

And when I fall, you pick me up.
When I’m thirsty, you can fill my cup.
If you win, then it’s my gain-
If you’re hurting, I will share your pain.
One Lord, One Body / One Lord, One Body
One Lord, One Body / One Lord, One Body

When you’re weighed down, I will share the load.
If you’re ever lost, I’ll help you find the road.
When I’m tempted, remind me what is right.
When I’m weary, please help me fight the fight.
One Lord, One Body / One Lord, One Body
One Lord, One Body / One Lord, One Body

Together we’ll carry the light--
Shining like the stars in the heavens.
One Lord, One Body / One Lord, One Body
One Lord, One Body / One Lord, One Body

"One Lord, One Body" words & music by Dave Burkum from the album, Fireside.  © Copyright 2006 by Dave Burkum (

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Sunday Supplication - Living as God's Children

O Father, at his baptism, you proclaimed Jesus to be your beloved Son and anointed him with the Holy Spirit. Today, we ask that you would help every one of us who have been baptized into his Name to live as your children. Help us to keep the covenant we have made with you, and help us declare with our words and our deeds that Jesus is truly our Lord and Savior.

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 God, thank you for the love you have lavished on us, that we might be called your children. Help us to live as your children, to display your glory, and be a testimony of the difference you make in our lives. And as you are making a difference in us, help us in turn to make a difference in our world. Help us to be instruments of your saving grace and peace.

Through Christ, we pray. Amen.

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Thursday Thinking - How Many Days in a Year?

A recent Radiolab podcast –– The Times They Are a-Changin' –– explores the scientific questions about how and why the number of days in a year (and the length of months and days) has changed through our planet's history. To check it out on the image below, or HERE.

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Wednesday Word - Winter Trees

All the complicated details
of the attiring and
the disattiring are completed!
A liquid moon
moves gently among
the long branches.
Thus having prepared their buds
against a sure winter
the wise trees
stand sleeping in the cold.

"Winter Trees" by William Carlos Williams, from Sour Grapes: A Book of Poems. © Public domain. There is a free Kindle version of this book.

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Tuesday Tome - The Throne, the Lamb, and the Dragon
The New Testament book of Revelation has always been a bit of a problem for me. Sure, I like the parts about God making all things new and wiping away all tears from our eyes. I'm thrilled that the crucified Lord Jesus is alive forever and holds the keys of death. The new Jerusalem sounds fantastic and makes me want to say, "Amen, come Lord Jesus!" I'm inspired by the great songs of praise as the throngs upon throngs gather to sing a new song of praise in every language declaring, "Worthy is the Lamb!"

On the other hand, there are all those monsters and plagues that make Revelation perplexing and disturbing. It's like the scary house on the end of Bible Street. There are all those cryptic descriptions and symbols that evade understanding. Add to that descriptions of times, places, and events that swirl together in a cloud of confusion. Then, to complicate things further, we have all those writers and teachers and pastors who claim to understand everything and turn it into a bunch of timelines and charts. They make it sound as though it's a code they've cracked or a series of mystical secrets they've somehow be given special eyes to see. It's no wonder that most of us are frightened, confused, or apathetic about it all.

Having said all that, I'm happy to say I've found a great little book to that could give you a new perspective on Revelation. It's by Paul Spilsbury, and it's called The Throne, The Lamb, and the Dragon. It's one of the best introductory overviews I've seen and is an easy read of only about 150 pages. This book is written not for theological specialists, but rather for everyday Bible readers trying to figure out what to do with that famous yet baffling book at the end of the New Testament. I highly recommend it!

From the Back Cover...
The book of Revelation has long intrigued, puzzled and even frightened its readers. Surely it is the most misunderstood book in the Bible. And some faulty interpretations of Revelation are so entrenched in the consciousness of Christians that they are regarded as "gospel truth" and provide riveting plot lines for end-time fiction. But behind the ancient multimedia show that is Revelation lies a message both simple and profound. It is told in a language and grammar of faith that was clearly understood by its first Christian audience.
Much as a music video would scarcely have been understood by first-century citizens, though it is immediately understood by youthful audiences today, so we are puzzled by and misread Revelation. Paul Spilsbury has studied Revelation in the company of its best interpreters, those who have taken the time to enter the minds of the first-century Christians for whom it was originally written. And what has he found? Within the central images of a throne, a lamb and a dragon lies the answer. The gospel clearly proclaimed. The glory of God awesomely illumined. The work of Christ memorably embodied. The nature of evil hauntingly disclosed.
Here is a guide that will help us hear Revelation speak, once again inspiring grateful worship and calling us to costly discipleship.
Ron Spilsbury is professor of New Testament and chair of New Testament studies at Canadian Theological Seminary in Calgary, Alberta.

Monday, January 06, 2014

Monday Music - This Wintry Night

The days are shorter now, the nights are getting long.
Snowy drifts are forming on the driveway.
We might just have to put another blanket on
As the mercury disappears;
It could be a record low-
The coldest night we have all year.

We share an afghan as we snuggle on the couch;
We've got lots of ways to beat the weather.
Old Man Winter isn't bothering us now;
We're as warm as we've ever been.

Curling up in rosy flannel–
Shadows dancing by the candle–
Chocolate kisses by handful–
While the moon is shining bright
Through the frosty panes this wintry night.

Aboard a seven-fifty-seven headed South
The snowbirds make their flight to Arizona.
They think they're lucky but I say they're missing out
On the warmth a North wind brings
When you're sitting by a fire
Or listening to the teapot sing.

The corn is popping and the cider's on the stove;
And we're all set to play a game of Scrabble.
So let it snow, we've got our cozy little cove–
Safe and warm as we've ever been.

Curling up in rosy flannel-
Shadows dancing by the candle-
Chocolate kisses by handful-
While the moon is shining bright
Through the frosty panes this wintry night.

The days are shorter now, the nights are getting long.
Snowy drifts are filling every sidewalk.
But we'll be fine, just put another blanket on
And we're as warm as we've ever been–
Safe and warm as we've ever been–

“This Wintry Night” words and music by Dave Burkum (written during a snowstorm on November 27, 1994), from the CD, Breathe a Little Deeper, © Copyright 2013 by Dave Burkum.

Sunday, January 05, 2014

Sunday Supplication - The Wisdom to Seek

O God, by the leading of a star you manifested your only Son to those wise people who were seeking him. In the same way, we ask you to lead. We seek to know you by faith.

Make us aware of your presence, and help us see your glory in Christ Jesus. And help your Church to display your glory as we are transformed and led by your Spirit.

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.

We thank you, Father, for your goodness to those who seek you. Give us the humility and the wisdom to seek you above all else. Give us the perspective and discernment to know what is true and what is real. Deepen our understanding of life. Help us to know what matters most.

Through Christ, we pray. Amen.

Friday, January 03, 2014

Friday Favorites - Fun with the Grandkids

On our recent holiday trip to Nebraska, we received this game as a gift. It's one of my favorite gifts because it's a nice game to play with my grandsons. It's not too hard, you can talk while you play, and it gives a good opportunity to be creative and develop a sense of mechanics. And, as a bonus, when you've finished a game, you can leave it out on the table because it looks like a piece of modern art!

Game Description from Amazon...
SUSPEND is a balancing game that is as easy to understand as it is difficult to master. The game comes with 24 notched, rubber-tipped wire pieces that hang from a tabletop stand. With each turn, a new piece is added to the transforming vertical sculpture, causing the balance to shift and the difficulty to increase. Recommended for ages eight years and up, this balancing game tests your nerves and helps develop hand-eye coordination, cognitive skills, and interpersonal skills.

Thursday, January 02, 2014

Thursday Thinking - New Year's Rulin's

Have you thought about making any resolutions for the new year?  Way back on January 1, 1943, Woody Guthrie wrote a list of New Year's Day resolutions in his journal (he called them "rulin's").

I like the idea of making a list of rulin's. It demonstrates the importance of living with intention and commitment. Woody's list is a little long, but you have to admit everything on the list is pretty good for a man living on the road in 1943. The only rulin' I would have a hard time with much is #26.

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Wednesday Words - Forgetfulness

Happy New Year!  

Looking back over last year, I'm sure I have forgotten much more than I remember. That is, perhaps, one of the great mercies for which I should give thanks every New Year's Day. 

And so, as we begin another new year, let us celebrate things forgotten with this memorable poem by Billy Collins.

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

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.