Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Tuesday Tome - Surprise the World!

I'm currently enjoying this little book recommended to me by my friend, Brad Dewing. It's a gem and gives insight on some basic perspectives that can shape and direct our personal interactions with others.

Surprise the World
by Michael Frost

Christianity is a surprising religion. It has changed the world in remarkable ways throughout history simply through Christians living out their faith. More recently, we’ve become afraid of a habituated Christianity, thinking that routines will rob our faith of its vitality. The net effect is that we’ve replaced the habits that surprise the world with habits that mimic the world―and both we and the world suffer for it.

Integrating the five habits in the BELLS model―Bless others, Eat together, Listen to the Spirit, Learn Christ, and understand yourself as Sent by God into others’ lives―will help you spread the gospel organically, graciously, and surprisingly.

Michael Frost, a world-renowned expert on evangelism and discipleship, makes evangelism a lifestyle that is fulfilling, exciting, effective, and easy to live out!

Monday, January 30, 2017

Monday Music - Joan Chamorro

I've had a blast watching Joan Chamorro videos in recent weeks. Great music and so inspirational to see the way he encourages and teaches young people, like Rita Payes and Andrea Motis, to make music. Also love the virtuosic piano work of Ignasi Terrazo.


Sunday, January 29, 2017

Sunday Supplication - Willing Hearts to Do Good

O God, you are our strength. We put our trust in you. We come to you in prayer because you are merciful. We come to you in our weakness because you are gracious and faithful and able to help us do what we could never do on our own. Help us to fulfill your purpose for our lives. Help us to walk in your ways. Help us to please you in our attitudes and our actions.

We confess our sins and ask you to forgive us.  We ask that you would change us and strengthen us. Help us overcome temptation and escape the sins that entangle and destroy us. Give us the grace and generosity we need to forgive others, just as you have forgiven us.

O God, you have fearfully and wonderfully made each one of us. You know the purposes you have for us and you have equipped us to accomplish those purposes. Help us, as we seek you with whole hearts, to discover our gifts and to understand how we can use them to serve you. Give us good things to do and willing heart to do them.

Through Christ, we pray. Amen.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Thursday Thinking - Living in a "Post-Truth" World

"It’s one thing to dispute someone’s interpretation of facts, it’s another to deny that there even are facts, and it’s all a matter of interpretation." 
– Ben Witherington

Postmodern liberals and alternative-fact conservatives should all take note. If there is no trust in honest inquiry, research, witnesses, reason, or scientific data, you can say good-bye to any hope or pursuit of truth. When people are more committed to finding affirmation than they are in dealing with reliable information, you can be sure culture, community, and even Christian faith will fall apart.

This recent post on Dr. Ben Witherington's blog is timely and worth your time. Note that it was published before last Sunday's news programs (January 22).

Do We Live in a World of Post-Truth?
January 21, 2017 by Ben Witherington 

According to the OED (the Oxford English Dictionary), the new word of the year for 2016 was— post-truth. We have talked about post-modernity, and post-Christianity, but now, it appears we have to talk about post-truth. I am quite sure that there is a connection between talking about post-Christian culture and post-truth, at least when it comes to the issues of epistemology (how we know what we know), theology, and even what counts as reality. So, a few comments are in order about post-truth. Firstly, if this means the denial that there are facts, then we have arrived at straight-up nihilism. It’s one thing to dispute someone’s interpretation of facts, it’s another to deny that there even are facts, and it’s all a matter of interpretation...


Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Wednesday Words - Say It

Say that it is the continuous life
you desire, that one day might stretch into
the next without a seam, without seeming
to move one minute away from the past
or that in passing through whatever comes

you keep coming to the faces you love,
never leaving them entirely behind.

Say that it is simply a wish to waste
time forever, lingering with the friends
you’ve gathered together, a gradual
illumination traveling the spine,
eyes brimming with the moment that is now.

Say that it is the impulse of the soul
to endure forever. Say it again.

"Say It" by Joyce Sutphen from Modern Love & Other Myths.
© Red Dragonfly Press, 2015.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Tuesday Tome - A Lifelong Love

I'm reading this book and watching a companion video series in preparation for a marriage enrichment reading and discussion group I will be starting in February. If you are interested in participating or if you have questions/suggestions, please contact me.

A Lifelong Love: How to Have Lasting Intimacy, Friendship, and Purpose in Your Marriage
by Gary Thomas

From the publisher...
Gary Thomas believes couples often settle for too little when it comes to marriage. We fail to understand how deeply God cares about our spouse. We diminish our need to not only understand what biblical love really is, but also to become a people who excel at it. We let ourselves drift apart instead of making the daily choices to grow closer together.

Whether your marriage needs a complete makeover, a touch up, or just a new purpose, A Lifelong Love promises to set your relationship on an entirely new dimension. You will never look at worship or your spouse in the same way again. You will understand how living for that day will so radically transform the decisions you make this day. And Gary will guide you through the power shifts and seasonal mine fields that blow up so many marriages so that you can grow in your love instead of in your disappointment.

Thirty years of study and two decades of working with couples has led Gary Thomas to his most significant book yet on the relationship between husband and wife. Find out for yourself what all the fuss is about—and why A Lifelong Love is sure to challenge the way the church talks about marriage.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Sunday Supplication - To Readily Seek Your Will

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 our Valley community 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 20, 2017

Friday Favorites - Tyler Burkum Concert

This should be a fun evening of music.

at the Hastings Arts Center
Saturday, January 21, 2017 - 7pm
$20 Online / $25 at door
SEASON PASS Subscribers: This is one of the featured concerts on your pass.



Thursday, January 19, 2017

Thursday Thinking - T.L.C. for S.A.D.

Here is a wonderful article from a young friend of mine.

How to Really Care for a Loved One 
with Seasonal Affect Disorder
by Cassie LaFollette
Upwrite Magazine, January 12, 2017

On the coldest winter mornings, we often experience a physical taxation: our feet flinch on the hardwoods, our legs move a bit arthritically, and as we enter the day, we notice an overall slowing of body. Even the young are impeded by their marshmallow coats. For some people, the season pries its way past a regular chill of the bones, and they find their very dispositions are caught adrift. Both my husband and my dad can identify with this, and through the years my problem-solving self has been frustrated at how hard it can be to help.

There is plenty of great advice on the web about how to treat Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), including lists of products that simulate natural light and myriad noonday exercise tips. Maybe it’s just me, but whenever I look at these my brain kind of shorts out. It’s hard enough to implement my own self-care habits, let alone someone else’s. The how-to slideshows all begin to feel the same: like receiving only the first half of a recipe, just the ingredient list with no direction on how to make it all work together in context of our already busy schedules and depleted energy reserves.

Thankfully, I have managed to find a few unexpected things that seem to really help...


Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Wednesday Words - Winter Morning Walks

Just as a dancer, turning and turning,
may fill the dusty light with the soft swirl
of her flying skirts, our weeping willow –
now old and broken, creaking in the breeze –
turns slowly, slowly in the winter sun,
sweeping the rusty roof of the barn
with the pale blue lacework of her shadow.

"Winter Morning Walks" by Ted Kooser from Winter Morning Walks: 100 Postcards to Jim Harrison, Carnegie-Mellon University Press (Pittsburgh, PA), 2001.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Tuesday Tome - Answering God

Yesterday morning, my wife and I started reading this book aloud together. We're expecting some refreshing and helpful insights from Eugene Peterson and the Psalms.

Answering God: The Psalms as Tools for Prayer
by Eugene H. Peterson

Publisher's Description...
Eugene H. Peterson speaks to Christians who realize the necessity for prayer and yearn for it but who find their prayer unconvincing and unsatisfying. Addressing the causes of this dissatisfaction, Answering God offers guidelines for using the Psalms as dynamic tools for prayer.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Sunday Supplication - The Radiance of Christ's Glory

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, O God, for the freedom from sin made 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 13, 2017

Friday Favorites - Tyler Burkum Concert: Jan. 21

January 21, 7:00pm

Hastings Arts Center
216 4th Street East
Hastings, MN  55033
Phone: 651-437-4320

We are excited to have Tyler return to the Hastings Arts Center stage!

A study in contrasts, smooth, organic vocals with a pop sensibility, offset by instrumentation and arrangement harkening a bygone era, the music of Tyler Burkum speaks to both new and old in one fresh breath. A native of Minneapolis, MN, Tyler's music speaks truthfully and without frills of his life, love, family, and home. The songwriting and composition Burkum displays are reminiscent of when folk, blues, rock n' roll, and soul were one.


Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Wednesday Words - Winter

A little heat in the iron radiator,
the dog breathing at the foot of the bed,

and the windows shut tight,
encrusted with hexagons of frost.

I can barely hear the geese
complaining in the vast sky,

flying over the living and the dead,
schools and prisons, and the whitened fields.

“Winter” by Billy Collins, © 2014 by Billy Collins.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Tuesday Tome - News of the World

This week's tome is another recommendation from my wife. She read this one over the Christmas break and thought it was marvelous. She reads constantly, so when I hear her give a book high praise, I know it deserves it. Sure hope I get a chance to read this one.

News of the World
by Paulette Jiles

Publisher's Description...
It is 1870 and Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd travels through northern Texas, giving live readings to paying audiences hungry for news of the world. An elderly widower who has lived through three wars and fought in two of them, the captain enjoys his rootless, solitary existence.

In Wichita Falls, he is offered a $50 gold piece to deliver a young orphan to her relatives in San Antonio. Four years earlier, a band of Kiowa raiders killed Johanna’s parents and sister; sparing the little girl, they raised her as one of their own. Recently rescued by the U.S. army, the ten-year-old has once again been torn away from the only home she knows.

Their 400-mile journey south through unsettled territory and unforgiving terrain proves difficult and at times dangerous. Johanna has forgotten the English language, tries to escape at every opportunity, throws away her shoes, and refuses to act “civilized.” Yet as the miles pass, the two lonely survivors tentatively begin to trust each other, forging a bond that marks the difference between life and death in this treacherous land.

Arriving in San Antonio, the reunion is neither happy nor welcome. The captain must hand Johanna over to an aunt and uncle she does not remember—strangers who regard her as an unwanted burden. A respectable man, Captain Kidd is faced with a terrible choice: abandon the girl to her fate or become—in the eyes of the law—a kidnapper himself. Exquisitely rendered and morally complex, News of the World is a brilliant work of historical fiction that explores the boundaries of family, responsibility, honor, and trust.

Sunday, January 08, 2017

Sunday Suppication - To Live as Your Children

O Father, we ask that you would help all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus 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 and our lives 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.

Thank you, O God, 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.

Friday, January 06, 2017

Friday Favorites - Hastings Art Center Film

Movie screening January 7th 7-9pm
A film by John Beder

Hastings Arts Center
Blessings Academy of Arts and Music
216 4th Street East
Hastings, MN  55033
Phone: 651-437-4320

Join us for a screening of this amazing film and a discussion afterword.

Composed invites you into the world of professional classical music, for an exploration of the many causes of and solutions for performance anxiety. This feature documentary brings together dozens of professionals from prestigious orchestras, symphonies, and music schools to discuss their personal journeys, and consider how best to achieve excellence in the face of enormous pressure. Composed finally confirms what so many of us have always secretly wondered – no, it’s not just you who has experienced the physical and mental agonies of performance anxiety, and yes, there are many ways to overcome the symptoms and deliver peak auditions and performances. Join the conversation today.

"The film, COMPOSED, addresses the topic of performance anxiety in a comprehensive and approachable way. The story-telling and personal narratives woven throughout the film showcase how this topic impacts nearly every musician, as well as suggests a variety of individual and different strategies to help overcome the issue. Most importantly, this film begins a public conversation around a topic that has too often been buried from artistic practice. This film should be required viewing at every music school!"

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Thursday Thinking - The Discipline of Friendship

Everyone wants good friends, but how many of us really desire to be a good friend. Friendship is not easy. It's not the fantasy of finding someone with whom you just have a magical connection. The discipline and depth it takes to be a true friend is much more demanding and fulfilling. In fact, true friendship does a lot to refine and stretch us into becoming people of virtue.

This Sunday I'll be starting a new teaching series at Valley Christian Church.
I hope you will be able to join us.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Wednesday Words - At the New Year

In the shape of this night, in the still fall
        of snow, Father
In all that is cold and tiny, these little birds
        and children
In everything that moves tonight, the trolleys
        and the lovers, Father
In the great hush of country, in the ugly noise
        of our cities
In this deep throw of stars, in those trenches
        where the dead are, Father
In all the wide land waiting, and in the liners
        out on the black water
In all that has been said bravely, in all that is
        mean anywhere in the world, Father
In all that is good and lovely, in every house
        where sham and hatred are
In the name of those who wait, in the sound
        of angry voices, Father
Before the bells ring, before this little point in time
        has rushed us on
Before this clean moment has gone, before this night
        turns to face tomorrow, Father
There is this high singing in the air
Forever this sorrowful human face in eternity’s window
And there are other bells that we would ring, Father
Other bells that we would ring.

“At the New Year” by Kenneth Patchen from Collected Poems.
Copyright © 1939 by Kenneth Patchen.

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Tuesday Tome - The Light between Two Oceans

Today's book is a recommendation from my wife.
Cheri read this book last week and said it was fantastic!
She had trouble putting it down.

The Light Between Oceans: A Novel Hardcover
by M. L. Stedman 

Publisher's description...
The years-long New York Times bestseller soon to be a major motion picture from Spielberg’s Dreamworks that is “irresistible…seductive…with a high concept plot that keeps you riveted from the first page” (O, The Oprah Magazine).

After four harrowing years on the Western Front, Tom Sherbourne returns to Australia and takes a job as the lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock, nearly half a day’s journey from the coast. To this isolated island, where the supply boat comes once a season, Tom brings a young, bold, and loving wife, Isabel. Years later, after two miscarriages and one stillbirth, the grieving Isabel hears a baby’s cries on the wind. A boat has washed up onshore carrying a dead man and a living baby.f

Tom, who keeps meticulous records and whose moral principles have withstood a horrific war, wants to report the man and infant immediately. But Isabel insists the baby is a “gift from God,” and against Tom’s judgment, they claim her as their own and name her Lucy. When she is two, Tom and Isabel return to the mainland and are reminded that there are other people in the world. Their choice has devastated one of them.

Sunday, January 01, 2017

Sunday Supplication - Lead Us to Your Son

O God, you used a star to lead the wise men seeking Christ to the place where he could be found. We desire that you lead us too. We seek to know you through Christ.

Make us aware of your presence. Help us to find your saving grace and truth in Christ Jesus. Lead your Church, O God. Lead us to your son Jesus that we may worship him with our lives.

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, O God, 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.