Tuesday, June 28, 2016

The Blog Is on Vacation until July 12

I'm on vacation for a couple weeks. In the meantime, please enjoy posts from the archive.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Sunday Supplication - Grace and Power We Need

O Lord, we trust you to hear and answer the prayers of your people as we call upon you. Please help us to know and understand what things we ought to do. And give us the grace and power we need to actually do them.

Your mercy and forgiveness toward us is so great. O God, make each of us merciful and forgiving to those who have sinned against us.  By your Holy Spirit, help us to turn away from sin.  Give us patience with each other, and give us honesty about our own weaknesses and needs. Renew us and strengthen us to walk in your ways.

We want your ways to be our ways, O God. We want our hearts and minds to be controlled and shaped by you and the truth. Guide us, give us wisdom, and transform 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, June 24, 2016

Friday Favorites - Pine Haven Assembly

I've just spent a very full and fun week preaching to 11th and 12th graders at Pine Haven Assembly near Park Rapids. Wonderful people, beautiful spirit, great weather, good experience! It was nice to be there.


Thursday, June 23, 2016

Thursday Thinking - Brené Brown on Blame

CLICK HERE to view a fun animation of an excerpt from a Brené Brown talk on the subject of blame. For a link for the actual talk this was taken from, CLICK HERE. Dr. Brené Brown tackles the myth that vulnerability is a weakness. Instead, she argues, it is the clearest path to courage and meaningful connection, and has the power to transform the way we engage and educate.


Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Wednesday Words - The Summer Day

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

"The Summer Day" by Mary Oliver, from New and Selected Poems: Volume 1,
© Copyright 1992 by Mary Oliver.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Tuesday Tome - Renovation of the Heart

Once again, I'm rereading this helpful book by Dallas Willard with two different guys from church. Renovation of the Heart is a treasure of wisdom about the human condition, the hope of the gospel, grace empowered transformation, and guidance toward spiritual formation. Willard was a master teacher and faithful Jesus apprentice. I'm thankful that he invested the time and effort to write and communicate his profound and practical insights. He's been one of the most influential Christian teachers of my life.

Renovation of the Heart
by Dallas Willard

From the publisher's description...
Only by God’s grace can we be transformed internally. Renovation of the Heart lays a biblical foundation for understanding what best-selling author Dallas Willard calls the “transformation of the spirit”―a divine process that “brings every element in our being, working from inside out, into harmony with the will of God.”

This fresh approach to spiritual growth explains the biblical reasons why Christians need to undergo change in six aspects of life: thought, feeling, will, body, social context, and soul. Willard also outlines a general pattern of transformation in each area, not as a sterile formula but as a practical process that you can follow without the guilt or perfectionism so many Christians wrestle with.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Sunday Supplication - Loving You and Others

O God, you have called us to love you with heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. Help us to remember, as Jesus said, that everything you’ve commanded us to do is summed up in loving you and loving others. Give us the grace and hearts we need to be people who are truly able to love.

You know our weaknesses and you understand our limitations. Thank you for the forgiveness, hope, and redemption you give.  In the same way, help us to forgive, to encourage, and to bless others. You are gracious and merciful to us, and we ask you to make us gracious and merciful to others.

Thank you, O God, that we can come to you with our requests and needs. Thank you that you can be found, that your door is open, and that you are generous. Grant us sensitivity toward the needs of others around us. Help us to be available, approachable, and generous.

Through Christ, we pray. Amen.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Friday Favorites - Horseshoe Lake

Enjoying a couple beautiful days here fishing with friends.
Thanks to Terry Madsen, Nick Madsen, and Jeff Collins for a terrific time!

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Thursday Thinking - Reasons to Walk

From Health Essentials - Cleveland Clinic...

People who walk regularly swear by the health and psychological benefits of their daily jaunt. Here are five reasons why they’re right.

1. Walking reduces stress, cheers you up and increases self-esteem

2. You can lose weight by walking just 30 minutes a day

3. Regular walking lowers blood pressure, improves sleep 

and energizes you

4. Walks can be easier and more fun with a pedometer and a pal

5. People experience a major dip in snack cravings during 

and after a 15-minute walk


Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Wednesday Words - Holding Out Both Hands

I like to watch an old man cutting a sandwich in half,
maybe an ordinary cold roast beef on whole wheat bread,
no pickles or onion, keeping his shaky hands steady
by placing his forearms firm on the edge of the table
and using both hands, the left to hold the sandwich in place,
and the right to cut it surely, corner to corner,
observing his progress through glasses that moments before
he wiped with his napkin, and then to see him lift half
onto the extra plate that he had asked the server to bring,
and then to wait, offering the plate to his wife
while she slowly unrolls her napkin and places her spoon,
her knife and her fork in their proper places,
then smoothes the starched white napkin over her knees
and meets his eyes and holds out both old hands to him.

"Splitting an Order" by Ted Kooser, from Splitting an Order (Copper Canyon Press) © Copyright 2014 by Ted Kooser, and from Valentines, © University of Nebraska Press, 2008.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Tuesday Tome - Matthew for Everyone

I enjoying a slow and thorough reading through the Gospel of Matthew with Tom Wright's Matthew for Everyone.

Here is an excerpt from today's reading commenting on Matthew 6:25-34...

Jesus had a strong, lively sense of the goodness of his Father, the creator of the world. His whole spirituality is many a mile from those teachers who insisted that the present world was a place of shadows, gloom and vanity, and the true philosophy consisted in escaping it and concentrating on things of the mind. His teaching grew out of his own experience. When he told his followers not to worry about tomorrow, we must assume he led them by example. He wasn't always looking ahead anxiously, making the present moment count only because of what might come next. No: he seems to have had the skill of living totally in the present, giving attention totally to the present task, celebrating the goodness of God here and now. If that's not a recipe for happiness, I don't know what is.

Matthew for Everyoneby N. T. Wright

Publisher's Description...
Tom Wright's eye-opening comments on the Gospel of Matthew and what it might mean for us are combined, passage-by-passage, with his fresh translation of the Bible text. Making use of his true scholar's understanding, yet writing in an approachable and anecdotal style, Wright captures the urgency and excitement of Matthew's Gospel in a way few writers have.

Tom Wright has undertaken a tremendous task: to provide guides to all the books of the New Testament, and to include in them his own translation of the entire text. Each short passage is followed by a highly readable discussion with background information, useful explanations and suggestions, and thoughts as to how the text can be relevant to our lives today. A glossary is included at the back of the book. The series is suitable for group study, personal study, or daily devotions.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Sunday Supplication - Every Good Thing

O God, we acknowledge that every good thing comes from you. Fill us with good thoughts and a love for the things that are right and good. Lead us and strengthen us to do those good things you have in mind for us to do.

O God, each of us has our own struggle to be obedient to you. Help us all to remember that everyone around us has similar struggles. When others sin against us, make us as charitable toward them as you are to us. Help us all to find our way back to you. When any one of us is sinned against, give us understanding and forgiving hearts. Make us willing to forgive because you have forgiven us.

When we become downcast, Father God, strengthen our hearts to hope in you. Give us faith to trust in you and to praise you all our days. Protect us from discouragement, and encourage us by your word, your people, your promises, and all that is beautiful and true.

Through Christ, we pray. Amen.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Friday Favorites - Minnesota Birds

Here is a fun page the Department of Natural Resources has posted to help you identify some common Minnesota Birds and learn their songs. You will enjoy sharing this page with some of the kids in your life. Go to the site and click on any bird in the picture to hear the song.


Thursday, June 09, 2016

Thursday Thinking - Keep Cool

The Art of Manliness blog has tips to keep your house cooler when the thermometer creeps up and up, ways to make your A/C use more efficient, as well as what you can do to keep your own person more comfortable. Click Here

The Art of Manliness - June 1, 2016
How to Keep Your House Cool (Without Cranking the A/C)

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Wednesday Words - Prayer

Every day I want to speak with you. And every day something more important
calls for my attention—the drugstore, the beauty products, the luggage

I need to buy for the trip.
Even now I can hardly sit here

among the falling piles of paper and clothing, the garbage trucks outside
already screeching and banging.

The mystics say you are as close as my own breath.
Why do I flee from you?

My days and nights pour through me like complaints
and become a story I forgot to tell.

Help me. Even as I write these words I am planning
to rise from the chair as soon as I finish this sentence.

"Prayer" by Marie Howe, from The Kingdom of Ordinary Time.
© W. W. Norton & Company, 2008.

Monday, June 06, 2016

Sunday, June 05, 2016

Sunday Supplication - Wake Up and Get Honest

O God, you are a faithful provider and you give order and purpose to our lives. We ask you to help us put aside all the things that are hurtful. Help us to seek the things that are true and uplifting and healing and beautiful.

Father, forgive us our sins, and help us, in gratitude to you, to forgive those who sin against us. We recognize that our hearts are so prone to pride and unforgiveness. It is hard for us to confess our sins, even to you. Help us to see clearly how we so often offend you. And help each of us to have the humility to pray, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner.”

O God, give us eyes to see the good things you have prepared in advance for us to do. Give us hearts that delight in your will, feet that walk in your ways, and spirits that longs to honor you in all we do. Help us to wake up and get honest about any disobedience, apathy, or distractions that are keeping us from faithfulness to you.

Through Christ, we pray. Amen.

Friday, June 03, 2016

Friday Favorites - Fishing with Friends

VALLEY CHRISTIAN CHURCH FISHING Ah, the call of the open lake, the relaxation of a line in the water, and the excitement of hauling in a lunker is here! An annual tradition for VCC men and their kids (boys and girls) to get out on the lake to wet a line, drown some worms, and possibly even catch supper! Our Men's Fishing Day, will happen June 4th on Prior Lake. We will be utilizing facilities at Sand Point Beach for boat launching as well as gathering and lunch (which is provided). Fishing can occur either by boat (depending on space avaialble) or from the fishing pier at Sand Point Beach.  

8:00am - Fishing 
12:00pm - Lunch



Thursday, June 02, 2016

Thursday Thinking - Public Controversy

Today, John Newton is known almost exclusively for writing the hymn, "Amazing Grace." During his own time, however, the Anglican priest was well-known for his measured wisdom and was often sought out for his advice regarding faith and life.

In his letter, "On Controversy," Newton gave advice to a person intending to confront someone publicly on a controversial point of doctrine. People who read his prudent counsel today (excerpted below) will be as well-served as the original recipient in the 18th century.

There is no shortage of controversy in our current culture, and people are quick to sound off publicly on nearly every difference of faith, politics, and culture, whether they know what they're talking about or not. Christians who make public remarks on controversial subjects would do well to heed Newton's guidance.

From Letter XIX, "On Controversy" by John Newton...

Respect Your Opponent
As to your opponent, I wish that before you set pen to paper against him, and during the whole time you are preparing your answer, you may commend him by earnest prayer to the Lord’s teaching and blessing. This practice will have a direct tendency to conciliate your heart to love and pity him; and such a disposition will have a good influence upon every page you write.

...The Lord loves him and bears with him; therefore you must not despise him, or treat him harshly. The Lord bears with you likewise, and expects that you should show tenderness to others, from a sense of the much forgiveness you need yourself.

...If you write with a desire of being an instrument of correcting mistakes, you will of course be cautious of laying stumbling blocks in the way of the blind or of using any expressions that may exasperate their passions, confirm them in their principles, and thereby make their conviction, humanly speaking, more impracticable.

Consider the Public
If our zeal is embittered by expressions of anger, invective, or scorn, we may think we are doing service of the cause of truth, when in reality we shall only bring it into discredit. The weapons of our warfare, and which alone are powerful to break down the strongholds of error, are not carnal, but spiritual; arguments fairly drawn from Scripture and experience, and enforced by such a mild address, as may persuade our readers, that, whether we can convince them or not, we wish well to their souls, and contend only for the truth’s sake; if we can satisfy them that we act upon these motives, our point is half gained; they will be more disposed to consider calmly what we offer; and if they should still dissent from our opinions, they will be constrained to approve our intentions.

...Whatever it be that makes us trust in ourselves that we are comparatively wise or good, so as to treat those with contempt who do not subscribe to our doctrines, or follow our party, is a proof and fruit of a self-righteous spirit.

 ...The best of men are not wholly free from this leaven; and therefore are too apt to be pleased with such representations as hold up our adversaries to ridicule, and by consequence flatter our own superior judgments.

...I hope your performance will savor of a spirit of true humility, and be a means of promoting it in others.

Consider Yourself
...We find but very few writers of controversy who have not been manifestly hurt by it. Either they grow in a sense of their own importance, or imbibe an angry, contentious spirit, or they insensibly withdraw their attention from those things which are the food and immediate support of the life of faith, and spend their time and strength upon matters which are at most but of a secondary value.

...The wisdom that is from above is not only pure, but peaceable and gentle; and the want of these qualifications, like the dead fly in the pot of ointment, will spoil the savor and efficacy of our labors. If we act in a wrong spirit, we shall bring little glory to God, do little good to our fellow creatures, and procure neither honor nor comfort to ourselves.

...Go forth, therefore, in the name and strength of the Lord of hosts, speaking the truth in love; and may he give you a witness in many hearts that you are taught of God, and favored with the unction of his Holy Spirit.

Excerpt from The Works of John Newton, Letter XIX “On Controversy.”

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Wednesday Words - Fishing

To go fishing is the chance to wash one’s soul with pure air,
with the rush of the brook,
or with the shimmer of the sun
on the blue water.

It brings meekness and inspiration
from the decency of nature,
charity toward tackle-makers,
patience toward fish,
a mockery of profits and egos,
a quieting of hate,
and a rejoicing that you do not
have to decide a darned thing
until next week.

And it is a discipline in the equality of  men –
For all men are equal before fish.

“Fishing” by President Herbert Hoover.