Sunday, November 30, 2014

Sunday Supplication - Walk in 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.

Save us, O God, 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.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Friday Favorites - Roseville Oval

The John Rose Minnesota Oval is one of the gems of Roseville. It's one of my favorite places to visit in the winter. If you like skating or enjoy winter sports, you should check it out. The facility has both indoor and outdoor ice, and is located near Lexington Avenue and County Road C.

The OVAL is a unique outdoor recreation facility with 110,000 square feet of refrigerated ice from November to March. The OVAL has a 400 meter speed skating track surrounding an infield ice area used for hockey or bandy.

The Guidant John Rose MN OVAL will remain open for activity unless the windchill is -25 degrees or lower. When the OVAL is closed an Alert Box will appear on the Skating Center main page. The OVAL is also used for inline skating and hosts an aggressive skate park from May to September. 

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thursday Thinking - About Thanksgiving

“Thanksgiving isn’t just a way of being a bit less grumpy and a bit more cheerful. It is a habit of the heart which indicates the nature and particular shape of the worldview. It is closely associated with joy, which for Paul is one of the primary signs of the Spirit’s work.”
––N. T. Wright, from Paul and the Faithfulness of God

“When we learn to read the story of Jesus and see it as the story of the love of God, doing for us what we could not do for ourselves--that insight produces, again and again, a sense of astonished gratitude which is very near the heart of authentic Christian experience.”
― N.T. Wright

“To be grateful is to recognize the Love of God in everything He has given us - and He has given us everything. Every breath we draw is a gift of His love, every moment of existence is a grace, for it brings with it immense graces from Him. Gratitude therefore takes nothing for granted, is never unresponsive, is constantly awakening to new wonder and to praise of the goodness of God. For the grateful person knows that God is good, not by hearsay but by experience. And that is what makes all the difference.”
–– Thomas Merton

“When it comes to life the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude.” 
–– G.K. Chesterton

"Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song."
––Psalm 95:2

"Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever."
––1 Chronicles 16:34

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Wednesday Words - Death, Be Not Proud

Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;
For those whom thou think'st thou dost overthrow
Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be,
Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee do go,
Rest of their bones, and soul's delivery.
Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell,
And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well
And better than thy stroke; why swell'st thou then?
One short sleep past, we wake eternally
And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.

by John Donne (1572-1631)

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Tuesday Tome - A Poetry Handbook

Are you interested in reading and perhaps even writing poetry? Mary Oliver's short little book, A Poetry Handbook, is well worth reading. If you enjoy Mary Oliver's poetry, as so many do, you will also find this book to be a window into her thinking and writing.

Here are a few brief paragraphs from the conclusion of the book:
Early in my life I determined not to teach because I like teaching very much. I thought if I was going to be a real poet––that is, write the best poetry I possibly could––I would have to guard my time and energy for its production, and thus I should not, as a daily occupation, do anything else that was interesting. Of necessity I worked for many years at many occupations. None of them, in keeping with my promise, was interesting.

Among the things I learned in those years were two of special interest to me. First, that one can rise early in the morning and have time to write (or, even, to take a walk and then write) before the world's work schedule begins. Also, that one can live simply and honorably on just about enough money to keep a chicken alive. And do so cheerfully.

This I have always known––that if I did not live my life immersed in the one activity which suits me, and which also, to tell the truth, keeps me utterly happy and intrigued, I would come someday to bitter and mortal regret.
- - - - - - -
Poetry is a life-cherishing force. And it requires a vision––a faith, to use an old-fashioned term. Yes, indeed. For poems are not words, after all, but fires for the cold, ropes let down to the lost, something as necessary as bread in the pockets of the hungry. Yes, indeed.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Monday Music - The Least of These

She was begging out in front of the Burger King,
Deep blue hair and a gold nose ring.
She held out one hand and asked me for a dollar-
Somebody's sister, someone's daughter.

Friday night down on Riverside Boulevard,
Where the streets are cold and the times are hard,
There's a tatooed boy living on the run–
Somebody's brother, someone's son.

O Lord, forgive us I pray,
Oh, for every child we've thrown away–
Oh, for tearless eyes that will not see–
For giving up on the least of these.

They shouted whore or they threw a stone,
So she was always careful to come alone.
A daily trial just to get some water–
Somebody's sister, someone's daughter.

A thousand demons were in control;
They filled his mind and they ruled his soul.
A crazy man feared by everyone-
Somebody's brother, someone's son.

O Lord, forgive us I pray,
Oh, for every child we've thrown away–
Oh, for tearless eyes that will not see–
For giving up on the least of these.

"The Least of These" by Dave Burkum, from If I Close My Eyes, © Copyright 2003 by Dave Burkum. Listen or Buy.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

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.

Thank you, O God, 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.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Friday Favorites - Blossoms Toast to Pacer

Get your friends together for a fun evening in support of PACER’s Simon Technology Center, which works to make assistive technology more accessible to children with disabilities.

Featuring The Cactus Blossoms
Brothers Jack Torrey and Page Burkum grew up in northeast Minneapolis and have been blending their voices as The Cactus Blossoms since 2010. Their hypnotic harmonies and unforgettable songs have made them favorites in the Minneapolis–Saint Paul music scene. Their latest album, Live at the Turf Club, blurs the line between old and new as they sneak a few originals into their repertoire of early country and Western swing.

Sample the best Minnesota’s local brewers and winemakers have to offer at “Raise a Glass – A Toast to PACER,” a beer and wine tasting event Friday, Nov. 21, at 6 p.m., at Muse Event Center, located at 107 3rd Ave N., in Minneapolis. Tickets are $30 before the event and $35 at the door, and include a signature tasting glass.

Tickets for non-drinkers are $15. Purchase tickets online or call (952) 838-9000. Attendees must be 21 or older.Show Your Support

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Thursday Thinking - About the Least of These

It's Community Action Week at Valley Christian Church. Here are some wonderful Bible resources from World Vision to help Christians think clearly and Biblically about people in need.

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
What Does the Bible Say About Poverty?
Motivated by our faith in Jesus Christ, we serve alongside the poor and oppressed as a demonstration of God’s unconditional love for all people. We love the way Jesus cared for the poor and oppressed — and the way he showed us how to listen to children and how to look out for widows and orphans. See what the Bible has to say about poverty and God’s heart for children and families living in great need.

God’s Heart for the Poor
Deuteronomy 26:6-9
“But the Egyptians mistreated us and made us suffer, putting us to hard labor. Then we cried out to the LORD, the God of our fathers, and the LORD heard our voice and saw our misery, toil and oppression. So the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with great terror and with miraculous signs and wonders. He brought us to this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey.”
Job 5:8-16

“But if it were I, I would appeal to God; I would lay my cause before him. He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted. He bestows rain on the earth; he sends water upon the countryside. The lowly he sets on high, and those who mourn are lifted to safety. He thwarts the plans of the crafty, so that their hands achieve no success. He catches the wise in their craftiness, and the schemes of the wily are swept away. Darkness comes upon them in the daytime; at noon they grope as in the night. He saves the needy from the sword in their mouth; he saves them from the clutches of the powerful. So the poor have hope, and injustice shuts its mouth.”

Job 34:17-19
“Can he who hates justice govern? Will you condemn the just and mighty One? Is he not the One who says to kings, ‘You are worthless,’ and to nobles, ‘You are wicked,’ who shows no partiality to princes and does not favor the rich over the poor, for they are all the work of his hands?”

Psalm 10:14
“But you, O God, do see trouble and grief; you consider it to take it in hand. The victim commits himself to you; you are the helper of the fatherless.”

Psalm 12:5
“‘Because of the oppression of the weak and the groaning of the needy, I will now arise,’ says the LORD. I will protect them from those who malign them.”

Psalm 140:12
“I know that the LORD secures justice for the poor and upholds the cause of the needy.”

Isaiah 25:4
“You have been a refuge for the poor, a refuge for the needy in his distress, a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat. For the breath of the ruthless is like a storm driving against a wall.”

Isaiah 41:17
“The poor and needy search for water, but there is none; tongues are parched with thirst. But I the LORD will answer them; I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them.”

Jeremiah 9:23-24
“This is what the LORD says: ‘Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,’ declares the LORD.”

Amos 5:24
“But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!”

Luke 1:52-53
“He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.”

Luke 4:16-21
“He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read. The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: ‘The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.’ Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, and he began by saying to them, ‘Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.’”

Luke 6:20-21
“Blessed are you who are poor, for yours in the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who hunger now, for you shall be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.”

Luke 7:22
“So he replied to the messengers, ‘Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor.’”

James 2:5
“Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?”

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Wednesday Words - Poverty

I saw an old cottage of clay,
   And only of mud was the floor;
It was all falling into decay,
   And the snow drifted in at the door.

Yet there a poor family dwelt,
   In a hovel so dismal and rude;
And though gnawing hunger they felt,
   They had not a morsel of food.

The children were crying for bread,
   And to their poor mother they’d run;
‘Oh, give us some breakfast,’ they said,
   Alas! their poor mother had none.

She viewed them with looks of despair,
   She said (and I’m sure it was true),
‘’Tis not for myself that I care,
   But, my poor little children, for you.’

O then, let the wealthy and gay
   But see such a hovel as this,
That in a poor cottage of clay
   They may know what true misery is.
And what I may have to bestow
   I never will squander away,
While many poor people I know
   Around me are wretched as they.

“Poverty” by Jane Taylor (1783-1824).

It's Community Action Week at Valley Christian Church. CLICK HERE to discover ways you can join us this week in confronting poverty as we partner with The Open Door Food Shelf, Sandwiches for the Homeless, HopeKids, and Feed My Starving Children.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Tuesday Tome - Vanishing Grace

Advent Season begins on the Sunday following Thanksgiving. That means I'll be starting a new teaching series at Valley Christian Church which will take us from November 30 through December 28. The central theme of the series, Comfort and Joy, is to assert that as the people of God, the community of the redeemed, the church should be an abundant source of joy and comfort in a world where so many are weary and broken. We will explore ways to receive and experience the grace of God and at the same time be a wellspring of that grace for others.

Philip Yancey's new book, Vanishing Grace, is one of the books I'm reading to challenge and inspire me as I prepare these sermons. I'll be drawing upon some of his ideas and recommending the book as companion reading to my series. Below is the publisher's description of the book.

Yancey’s writing has focused on the search for honest faith that makes a difference for a world in pain. In his landmark book What’s So Amazing about Grace he issued a call for Christians to be as grace-filled in their behavior as they are in declaring their beliefs.

But people inside and outside the church are still thirsty for grace. What the church lacked in its heyday is now exactly what it needs to recover to thrive. Grace can bring together Christianity and our post-Christian culture, inviting outsiders as well as insiders to take a deep second look at why our faith matters and about what could reignite its appeal to future generations.

How can Christians offer grace in a way that is compelling to a jaded society? And how can they make a difference in a world that cries out in need?

Yancey aims this book at Christian readers, showing  them how Christians have lost respect, influence, and reputation in a newly post-Christian culture. “Why do they hate us so much?” mystified Americans ask about the rest of the world.  A similar question applies to evangelicals in America.

Yancey explores what may have contributed to hostility toward Evangelicals, especially in their mixing of faith and politics instead of embracing more grace-filled ways of presenting the gospel.  He offers illuminating stories of how faith can be expressed in ways that disarm even the most cynical critics.  Then he explores what is Good News and what is worth preserving in a culture that thinks it has rejected Christian faith.

Monday, November 17, 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 the 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 2003 by Dave Burkum.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

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.

Grant us, O Lord, 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 14, 2014

Friday Favorites - Date Night

On a chilly November night in 1973, I went on my first date with a farm girl from southwest Nebraska. We were at a high-school program (I was a senior and she was a freshman) at Nebraska Christian College in Norfolk, NE. Late one night after the evening programs we left campus and went to the Pizza Hut. Being a local kid with a car had it's advantages!

I was surprised when she ordered a glass of milk to drink with her pizza. Honestly, that seemed a little weird to me, but I gave it a try and low and behold it was pretty great. So ever since then, drinking milk with pizza has been on my list of good things I might have missed if it weren't for that girl.

Tonight, that very same girl and I are going to a Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra concert. Pretty sophisticated, right? Before that, however, in honor of this momentous anniversary 41, we're going to go out for pizza at a friend's 41st birthday party. I bet we'll be the only ones there drinking milk.

Thursday Thinking - N. T. Wright on Church

Here's a short but interesting conversation with Tom Wright about new-creation-shaped church on the Nomad Podcast. The folks at the Nomad Blog ask him some questions about the overarching message of the Bible, the nature and purpose of the church, and his own practical experience of participating in the life of the church.

I had never heard of this blog or podcast until just this past week when I came across this first podcast episode through another blog. Click Here to visit the podcast blog or click on the player button below to listen.

About Nomad:

Nomad is an opportunity to explore Christian community, mission and the future of the church. Join two fellow pilgrims as they journey the post-Christendom wilderness, in search of signs of hope

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

November 12 - 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 11, 2014

Tuesday Tome - Pilots in Command

My good friend, Kris Pierson, has written a book which was recently published and is, as of today, available through Amazon. Pilots in Command was published by ASA - Aviation Supplies & Academics, a major supplier of pilot supplies and educational material in the United States.

Let me encourage you to tell the professional pilots in your life about this helpful new book. I read the book, though I know nothing about flying, and even I gleaned a few good leadership tips.

Congratulations, Kris, on this wonderful achievement!

From the publisher's description...
Pilots in Command: Your Best Trip, Every Trip goes beyond the requirements of flight training curricula into what is both a rarity and a necessity: sage advice from real pilots, for student and professional aviators alike, about how to be true leaders.

Captain-candidates at air carriers go through a “captains class,” an extra module in pilot upgrade training that helps them learn to operate each flight as a good leader. Yet not every captains class provides tricks of the trade or solid, experience-proven, leadership advice. Pilots know that when things go wrong, everyone looks to the captain — the pilot in command — to make things right.

In an easy-to-use format, on a range of topics that all tie into the application of basic leadership skills, the author covers crew roles, crew briefings, flight attendants, crew resource management (CRM), threat and error management (TEM), ground services, dispatch, customer service, abnormal and emergency situations, layovers, crew dynamics, 14 CFR Part 117 rest rules, and a new model of transformational leadership and professionalism for pilots.

Effective August 1, Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) license applicants must complete a comprehensive ground school with instruction on leadership, professional development, crew resource management, and safety culture. This book is an excellent resource for the new ATP training requirements.

Pilots In Command shares with you the insights and techniques typically gained only from years of experience and interaction with your fellow pilots and crew at 35,000 feet.

Monday, November 10, 2014

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.

"She Loves You" by Lennon and McCartney © Copyright 1964 by Northern Songs UK. This performance from If I Close My Eyes by Dave Burkum, © Copyright 2002.

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Sunday Supplication - Raise Us 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 give us hope and salvation, O God. 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 07, 2014

Friday Favorites - Grandad Bluff

Cheri and I really enjoyed the many breathtaking views we experienced last week on our trip to Mineral Point, Wisconsin. One of the amazing views was from Grandad Bluff in La Crosse, Wisconsin.

This 600-ft high bluff overlooks the city of La Crosse. You can see miles and miles of the Mississippi River Valley with panoramic views of Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa.

If you're ever passing through the area on a nice day, you really ought to check it out!

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Thursday Thinking - Faith and the Public Square

David Brooks recently spoke at The Gathering 2014. As a person of faith who lives and writes in a secular context, his talk is well worth a listen. You can read or skim through the transcript HERE.  I've included a couple of pull quotes below to give you an idea of what he presented.

Click the icon below if you would like to listen to the audio file. You can start listening at the 10:15 mark if you'd like to skip the introduction and banter before the actual presentation. The actual talk is about 36 minutes long.

"...what I thought I’d want to talk about is how to be religious in the public square. What does the culture need from you? At least in my opinion.

Now I grew up in a slightly different atmosphere than a lot of people in this room. I work at what I think of as the greatest newspaper in the world, but being a conservative, religious person at The New York Times is a bit like being the chief rabbi in Mecca. There’s not a lot of company there some days.
I grew up in a very left-wing household in Greenwich Village in New York. Nonetheless I went to Grace Church School. I was part of the all-Jewish boys’ davening choir at Grace. We sang the hymns, but to square with our religion we didn’t sing the word, “Jesus,” so the volume would drop down and then come back up.

I went to the University of Chicago, which we called the Wheaton of the Southside. The best line about Chicago: it’s a Baptist school where atheist professors teach Jewish students St. Thomas Aquinas.

I’ve lived much of my life in the secular culture. And it’s an achievement-oriented culture."

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 

"...I spend a lot of time in the Christian world, and I am going to try to describe things I have observed, both walls and ramps. The first part, I‘m going to try and describe some walls that I think the Christian culture has erected for the secular culture. This part is going to be a little harsh. I’m trying a “holy friend,’ which involves some criticism."

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Wednesday Words - Faith & Learning

Praise the source of faith and learning
who has sparked and stoked the mind
with a passion for discerning
how the world has been designed.
Let the sense of wonder flowing
from the wonders we survey
keep our faith forever growing
and renew our need to pray:

God of wisdom, we acknowledge
that our science and our art
and the breadth of human knowledge
only partial truth impart.
Far beyond our calculation
lies a depth we cannot sound
where Your purpose for creation
and the pulse of life are found.

May our faith redeem the blunder
of believing that our thought
has displaced the grounds for wonder
which the ancient prophets taught.
May our learning curb the error
which unthinking faith can breed
lest we justify some terror
with an antiquated creed.

As two currents in a river
fight each other's undertow
till converging they deliver
one coherent steady flow,
blend, O God, our faith and learning
till they carve a single course
while they join as one returning
praise and thanks to you their source.

"Praise the Source of Faith and Learning" by Thomas H. Troeger, from Borrowed Light: Hymn Texts, Prayers, and Poems, © Copyright 1994 by Oxford University Press.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Tuesday Tome - Every Good Endeavor

I've just posted the dates for my next book club group which will be reading Tim Keller's book, Every Good Endeavor. You can view the dates and get more information at the Valley Christian Church book club webpage.

Thanks to a partnership with MacLaurinCSF at the University of Minnesota, and a grant from the Kern Family Foundation, the books will be free for the first ten participants. If you would like to be a part of this reading group, please let me know and I'll reserve a book for you.

Book Description from the publisher...
New York Times bestselling author Timothy Keller shows how God calls on each of us to express meaning and purpose through our work and careers.

Tim Keller, pastor of New York’s Redeemer Presbyterian Church and the New York Times bestselling author of The Reason for God, has taught and counseled students, young professionals, and senior leaders on the subject of work and calling for more than twenty years. Now he pulls his insights into a thoughtful and practical book for readers everywhere.

With deep conviction and often surprising advice, Keller shows readers that biblical wisdom is immensely relevant to our questions about work today. In fact, the Christian view of work—that we work to serve others, not ourselves—can provide the foundation of a thriving professional and balanced personal life. Keller shows how excellence, integrity, discipline, creativity, and passion in the workplace can help others and even be considered acts of worship—not just of self-interest.

Monday, November 03, 2014

Monday Music - Mercy Street

Too long my feet have wandered these winding roads;
But I keep searching through this town.
My back in breaking under this heavy load;
Where can I go to lay it down?

What I would give if you could point me to that place!
I'm lookin' for Mercy.
I want to live on the avenue of grace;
I'm looking for Mercy–

Mercy Street, where the weary find rest.
Mercy Street, where the guilty are forgiven,
Mercy Street, where the weeping are blessed,
Mercy Street.

How I kept walking is a mystery;
My wasted days turned into years.
Until a stranger came along side of me;
He took my hand and dried my tears.

He said I've come from the place you hope to find,
I am from Mercy.
Cast off your burden and leave the past behind;
Leave it on Mercy–

Mercy Street, where the weary find rest.
Mercy Street, where the guilty are forgiven,
Mercy Street, where the weeping are blessed,
Mercy Street.

And now I walk the same old streets I used to roam,
Handin' out Mercy.
Come take my hand, I have been sent to bring you home;
I am from Mercy–

Mercy Street, where the weary find rest.
Mercy Street, where the guilty are forgiven,
Mercy Street, where the weeping are blessed,
Mercy Street.

"Mercy Street" by Dave Burkum, from Breathe a Little Deeper, © Copyright 1993 by Dave Burkum. Listen or Buy

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Sunday Supplication - Holding Fast to Hope

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.

Help us, O Lord, 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.