Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Tuesday Tome - Grace for the Afflicted

This is a book I will be reading with several others from my church in the months ahead. I'm looking forward to gaining new insights from the reading and from our discussions.

Grace for the Afflicted: A Clinical and Biblical Perspective on Mental Illness
by Matthew S. Stanford

Publisher's description...
Each day men and women diagnosed with mental disorders are told they need to pray more and turn from their sin. Mental illness is equated with demonic possession, weak faith and generational sin.

Why is it that the church has struggled in ministering to those with mental illnesses? As both a church leader and professor of psychology and neuroscience, Michael S. Stanford has seen far too many mentally ill brothers and sisters damaged by well meaning believers who respond to them out of fear or misinformation rather than grace.  

Grace for the Afflicted is written to educate Christians about mental illness from both biblical and scientific perspectives. Stanford presents insights into our physical and spiritual nature and discusses the appropriate role of psychology and psychiatry in the life of the believer. Describing common mental disorders, Stanford asks of each: "What does science say and what does the Bible say about this illness?"

Monday, February 27, 2017

Monday Music: Tatiana Parra - "Timidez"

Last week I posted a virtuosic vocal piece from Tatiana Parra. This week a nice pop song. I love the arrangement and the Portuguese language is so musical.

https://youtu.be/688ojiI6soo?list=PLZQ_hTVQhB7_qMxzld9seMJBI-uFjEccdCLICK HERE OR ON IMAGE TO PLAY

My shyness
Distance Dreams
And once again it's like this.
A contained gesture, a confused sign
Just because
I do not know how 

to tell you how I feel

A blue night
So many thoughts
What will I do to make you notice?
Eyes light up as I see you approach.
A shy smile
That you did not know how to see

Such shyness
Dreams so far
And once again it was so
Gestures so contained by confusing signs
Just because
I could not tell you how much I know you feel

Another blue night
So many thoughts
What else do you notice?
Eyes light up again to worship you

A shy smile
What do you finally see?
And you smile at me like that
Light up the look for me

So much to speak
Everything comes at once
But how to say?

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Sunday Supplication - Shaped & Guided

Almighty God, we know that without your grace we are powerless to help ourselves. We ask you to help us in heart, mind, and body as we seek to be your people. Save us from all those things threaten and tempt us in our bodies, and from all evil thoughts that hurt us in mind and spirit.

Forgive us our sins. Help us die to ourselves and live through you. Make us willing and able to forgive others as you have forgiven us. Help us to think, speak, and act in ways that restore lives, nurture relationships, create peace, and bring honor to you.

Thank you, O God, for salvation and life through Christ. Help us to surrender fully to you and to follow Jesus with whole hearts. Help us to know Jesus––to love him, to understand him, to honor him,
and to draw near to him––so that our lives are completely shaped and guided by him.

It is in His Saving Name that we pray these things. Amen.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Friday, February 24, 2017

Friday Faves - Gaffigan: Cinco

I watched this last week. Gaffigan is a funny, funny man. Watch it on Netflix.

CLICK HERE or on image above to watch a short clip.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Thursday Thinking - Dissolving Social Barriers

Richard Beck recently posted some insights about grace he has gleaned from Paul and the Gift by John M. G. Barclay. For instance...

We tend to miss the radical social implications of Paul's message of grace. We moderns tend to make grace a personal and psychological experience: I feel grateful because God loves me, an unworthy sinner.

But in Paul's context the message of incongruous grace--God gives gifts to the unworthy--blew up the entire ancient way of thinking about social relationships.

In short, rather than creating an internal, private experience grace creates a new social imagination and reality.

According to Paul, in the light of grace all previous cultural standards of significance and worth--how we divide up the winners and losers in any society--are dissolved and eradicated.

Grace is an acid that dissolves the social barriers that separate the winners from the losers.

Read Beck's complete post at Experimental Theology

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Wednesday Words - Joyful, Joyful

Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee,
God of glory, Lord of love;
hearts unfold like flowers before Thee,
Opening to the Sun above,
Melt the clouds of sin and sadness;
drive the dark of doubt away;
Giver of immortal gladness,
fill us with the light of day!

All Thy works with joy surround Thee,
earth and heaven reflect Thy rays,
stars and angels sing around Thee,
center of unbroken praise:
Field and forest, vale and mountain,
Flowery meadow, flashing sea,
chanting bird and flowing fountain,
call us to rejoice in Thee.

Thou art giving and forgiving,
ever blessing, ever blest,
well-spring of the joy of living,
ocean-depth of happy rest!
Thou our Father, Christ our Brother,—
all who live in love are Thine:
Teach us how to love each other,
lift us to the Joy Divine.

Mortals join the mighty chorus,
which the morning stars began;
Father-love is reigning o'er us,
brother-love binds man to man.
Ever singing, march we onward,
victors in the midst of strife;
joyful music lifts us sunward
in the triumph song of life.

"Joyful, Joyful" by Hen­ry J. van Dyke (1907), first pub­lished in the Pres­by­ter­i­an Hymn­al in 1911, also in the Po­ems of Hen­ry van Dyke, 1911.

Click Here for a Dave Burkum song using this text.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Tuesday Tome - A Diary of Private Prayer

A few days ago I shared a prayer from this book for my "Wednesday Words" post. The prayer was brought to my attention by my friend Steve Ginader who saw it posted along the path in a woodland garden in New Zealand. He sent me a picture of the garden placard, which prompted me to look for the author of the prayer and the book it came from.

I found a nice hardcover edition of the book and Cheri and I plan to add it to our coffee times in March. The book has a morning and evening prayer for each day of the month.

A Diary of Private Prayer
by John Baillie

Publisher's description...
Editor Susanna Wright offers this updated edition of a Christian devotional classic—invoking the daily prayers and timeless imagery of the original text through modern, accessible language.

In this wonderful collection, famed theologian Dr. John Baillie shares personal prayers for people who are seeking a better understanding of God and themselves. Organized by morning and evening—with special prayers for Sundays—A Diary of Private Prayer is written with eloquence, piety, and directness. Blending praise and meditative thoughts about God with a concern for the social and individual good, these daily invocations help and inspire us to search our inner selves and find the deep religious beliefs that lie within.

First published in 1936, A Diary of Private Prayer remains a seminal Christian devotional with more than a million copies in print. This modern edition—completely redesigned into a gift package—admirably preserves all the qualities of the original, ensuring that the wisdom of God and the wonder of Baillie’s prayers remain accessible for many generations to come.

About the Author...
John Baillie was a teacher, lecturer, preacher, and author of many books, including Christian Devotion, The Place of Jesus Christ in Modern Christianity, and A Diary of Readings. He held academic posts in the UK, the US, and Canada; was Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland; and President of the World Council of Churches. He died in 1960.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Sunday Supplication - Steadfast Faith

O God, we are so thankful for your mercy. Please be gracious to us when we go astray from your ways. Bring us back to you. Give us humble hearts and steadfast faith. Teach us to hold fast to the unchangeable truth of your Word. Help us to follow Jesus Christ your Son.

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.

Renew us, O Lord, and save us from the things that afflict us. Give us the strength to persevere, and give us hope as we cling to your promises. Forgive us our sins and deliver us from evil.

Make us vessels of your grace in a weary world. And as we are surrounded by so much suffering and hate, we ask you to make us a testimony of your saving and transforming love.

Through Christ, we pray. Amen.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Friday Faves - Old Orchard Tart Cherry Juice

I've been living on Old Orchard Tart Cherry Juice all week. Trying to get lots of liquids while fighting illness. This stuff is great hot or cold or in tea or diluted with water. Delicious.

A popular remedy or delectable drink? Formally known as our Very Cherre Tart Cherry, our 100% Premium Tart Cherry juice blossoms with bold flavor, sweet and tart. Serve our 100% pure tart cherry juice on ice, slightly warmed or at room temperature to turn on your taste buds right down to your toes. Just 4oz of juice provides your daily recommended intake of antioxidants!

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Thursday, February 16, 2017

Thursday Thinking - Why Culture Matters

People of faith differ on how much concern we should pay to the culture at hand, questioning what good can we really do engaging in a broken world. Can we really make a significant difference? Does God share these concerns? Every generation must answer these questions in the same way creatives, artisans, industry and civic leaders have done for two millennia. Tim Keller, New York Times Bestselling Author and Pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City provides a fundamental perspective on why culture matters to God and therefore must matter to us.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Wednesday Words - Creator Spirit

Creator Spirit, who broodest everlastingly
over the lands and waters of the earth,
enduing them with forms and colors
which no human skill can copy,
give me today, I beseech Thee,
the mind and heart to rejoice in Thy creation.

Forbid that I should walk through
Thy beautiful world with unseeing eyes:
Forbid that the lure of the market-place
should ever entirely steal my heart away
from the love of the open acres and the green trees:
Forbid that under the low roof of workshop or office or study
I should ever forget Thy great overarching sky:
Forbid that when all Thy creatures are greeting
the morning with songs and shouts of joy,
I alone should wear a dull and sullen face:
Let the energy and vigor which in Thy wisdom
Thou has infused into every living thing
stir today within my being,
that I may not be among Thy creatures
as a sluggard and a drone:
And above all give me grace to use
these beauties of earth without me
and this eager stirring of life within me
 as a means whereby my soul may rise
from creature to Creator,
and from nature to nature’s God.

O thou whose divine tenderness doth ever outsoar
the narrow loves and charities of Earth,
grant me today a kind and gentle heart
towards all things that live.
Let me not ruthlessly hurt any creature of thine.
Let me take thought also for the welfare of little children,
and of those who are sick, and of the poor;
remembering that what I do unto the least of these His brethren
I do unto Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen.

"Thirtieth Day: Morning - Creator Spirit" by John Baillee, A Diary of Private Prayer.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Tuesday Tome - The Pursuit of God

Richard Lamb's The Pursuit of God in the Company of Friends has been a great springboard into a number of the ideas I've been sharing in my current teaching series at Valley Christian Church. I finish the series next Sunday, February 19.

The Pursuit of God in the Company of Friends
by Richard Lamb

Publisher's description...
You were not meant to walk alone. Many of us struggle to forge deep relationships with God and other people. Modern society has isolated us as rugged individuals, deceiving us into thinking we can make it through life on our own. Individualism has likewise shaped the pattern of Christian discipleship, privatizing faith and separating us from fellow believers. But we come to know God best when others help us on the way. And our friendships develop best when we seek after God together. What would it look like to pursue God not by ourselves but in the company of friends? According to the model of the New Testament, spiritual transformation takes place in the context of Christian community.

By unpacking the Gospel narratives of Jesus' ministry with his disciples, Richard Lamb demonstrates how discipleship develops within the shared community life of groups of Christians. He explores a range of topics--such as spiritual friendship, hospitality, leadership, service, conflict, forgiveness and mission--in light of Christian community. Engaging stories from real-life experience show how people can form one another spiritually when their lives are tumbled against one another. If you long for more of God, deeper friendships or both, this book will help you on the journey. Discover the transforming power of discipleship in community. Join the pursuit of God in the company of friends.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Sunday Supplication - A Blessing to the World

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, and all people in the world, to recognize the salvation he brings.

Thank you for the forgiveness and renewal you have given to us through Christ Jesus.  Help us to extend forgiveness to each other. And help us grow into a redemptive and healing community. Help us to have a saving and healing impact on the world around us.

O God, life in this world is more than we can face on our own. Help us to navigate our way through the 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 the world around us.

Through Christ, we pray. Amen.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Friday Favorites - Palace Theatre March 11

Saturday, March 11, 2017, 7:00 PM

The Jayhawks with The Cactus Blossoms

Palace Theater
W 7th Pl.
St. Paul, MN 55101

Thursday, January 19, 2017, 10:00 AM, The Current's pre-sale
Friday, January 20, 2017, 12:00 PM, public


Thursday, February 09, 2017

Thursday Thinking - Should Christians Protest?

Posted by Peter Enns, January 23, 2017
Pete Enns: The Bible for Normal People

Paul, along with other earlier followers of Jesus, had a complicated relationship with the Roman Empire. Paul was a citizen of Rome, as we read in Acts 22:25, but he also wrote that the Christian’s citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20)—which, again, doesn’t mean pie-in-the sky-escapism, but that the Christian’s true and deep identity is first and foremost with that “kingdom” Jesus talked on and on about: the earthly manifestation of the will of God and the critique of power.

Christians today are no less called to be instruments of that reign while we too live in that complex relationship with earthly political entities, those nations that Isaiah reminds us are to God but a drop in a bucket and dust on a scale (Isaiah 40:15).

Read the Complete Essay in Less than 5 Minutes

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Wednesday Words - A Ritual to Read Each Other

If you don't know the kind of person I am
and I don't know the kind of person you are
a pattern that others made may prevail in the
and following the wrong god home we may miss
           our star.

For there is many a small betrayal in the mind,
a shrug that lets the fragile sequence break
sending with shouts the horrible errors of
storming out to play through the broken dike.

And as elephants parade holding each
          elephant's tail,
but if one wanders the circus won't find the
I call it cruel and maybe the root of all cruelty
to know what occurs but not recognize the fact.

And so I appeal to a voice, to something
a remote important region in all who talk:
though we could fool each other, we should
lest the parade of our mutual life get lost in the

For it is important that awake people be awake,
or a breaking line may discourage them back to
the signals we give — yes or no, or maybe —
should be clear: the darkness around us is deep.

"A Ritual to Read to Each Other" by William Stafford from The Way It Is: New and Selected Poems. Copyright © 1998 by William Stafford.

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Tuesday Tome - Getting More Out of the Psalms

My wife and I are reading this book aloud together and finding it to be very helpful. We've read through the Psalms many times, but this book is definitely giving us new insights for getting more from them.

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.

Monday, February 06, 2017

Monday Music - Dani & Deborah Gurgel

My newest discovery in the world of Brazilian jazz...
Dani and Debora Gurgel and friends are AMAZING!
I'd love the chance to see them live sometime.
Enjoy this video and explore MANY others they have posted on YouTube.


Sunday, February 05, 2017

Sunday Supplication - Hearts of Compassion

O God, you have revealed your grace and truth through Jesus your only-begotten Son. We have seen your glory revealed in his birth, his life, his words, his death, and his resurrection.

Give us the faith to truly see Christ, and by his light, help us to see our own lives and our purpose. Strengthen us to take up our own crosses, to walk in his ways, and to be changed into his likeness from glory to glory.

We are thankful for your forgiveness and we ask that, as you have forgiven us our sins, you would help us to be quick to forgive those who have sinned against us.

We thank you, Father, for the grace and comfort you extend to us. We praise you for being a God of comfort and consolation. Help us to always look to you for the strength and hope needed to face our troubles. Give us eyes to see the hurts of those around us. Give us hearts of compassion, and make us instruments of your peace.

Through Christ, we pray. Amen.

Friday, February 03, 2017

Friday Faves - Jayhawks & The Cactus Blossoms

Saturday, March 11, 2017, 7:00 PM

The Jayhawks with The Cactus Blossoms

Palace Theater
W 7th Pl.
St. Paul, MN 55101

Thursday, January 19, 2017, 10:00 AM, The Current's pre-sale
Friday, January 20, 2017, 12:00 PM, public


Thursday, February 02, 2017

Thursday Thinking - About Refugees

New Testament scholar, Scot McKnight, gives his perspective on nation states and refugees...

In the News: The Fate of Refugees
by Scot McKnight at Jesus Creed Blog

Nation states have chosen and encoded in law their boundaries and what it takes to get in and out of those boundaries. I don’t get to walk into Canada without going through an officer’s inspection, and Canadians don’t get to enter the USA without inspection. Such laws seem reasonable to most of us.
Even so, what about refugees?

In the Ancient Near East nations by law insisted in international treaties that refugee slaves be returned to their masters. One of the more remarkable counter-cultural laws in ancient Israel was how it treated refugee slaves. It is evidence for what William Webb called the “redemptive movement.” For sure, in this case Israel’s law was radical, innovative, and counter international treaties.
What was Israel’s law?
If a slave has taken refuge with you, do not hand them over to their master. Let them live among you wherever they like and in whatever town they choose. Do not oppress them (Deuteronomy 23:15-16).
Instead of a return, the refugee was to be harbored...


Sunday Supplication -

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Wednesday Words - A Prayer among Friends

Among other wonders of our lives, we are alive
with one another, we walk here
in the light of this unlikely world
that isn't ours for long.
May we spend generously
the time we are given.
May we enact our responsibilities
as thoroughly as we enjoy
our pleasures. May we see with clarity,
may we seek a vision
that serves all beings, may we honor
the mystery surpassing our sight,
and may we hold in our hands
the gift of good work
and bear it forth whole, as we
were borne forth by a power we praise
to this one Earth, this homeland of all we love.

"A Prayer among Friends" by John Daniel, from Of Earth: Poems. © Lost Horse Press, 2012.