Tuesday, May 30, 2017


I will be taking a break from Altered Faces while on vacation.
The blog will return Sunday, June 18.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Sunday Supplication - The Light and Presence

O God, on this Pentecost Sunday, we thank you for the light and presence of your Holy Spirit. We ask that by the power and grace of your Holy Spirit you would lead us, teach us, and transform us so that we might delight in your Word, and walk in your ways, to the glory of your name.

We confess our sin and ask you to forgive us.  And beyond forgiveness, we ask that you would change us and strengthen us that we might overcome temptation and escape the sins that entangle and diminish us. We also ask for the grace and generosity to forgive others, even as you have forgiven us.

Help us, O God, to love you with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. And help us to love our neighbors  as ourselves. Help us to follow Christ's selfless example, watching for the needs of others, and doing what we can to meet those needs. Help us to use every good gift you have given us to bless and encourage others.

Through Christ, we pray. Amen.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Friday Favorites - Fishing

Where do you fish in Dakota County? Let me know.
I'd appreciate your suggestions.
I'm hoping to get out on Lake Marion in the next week or two.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Thursday Thinking - Rejoicing through Messianic Woes

To follow Christ is to share in his mission and the woes that come with living out and bringing the Kingdom into the here and now. Thanks to Richard Beck for posting this...

by Richard Beck  |  Experimental Theology Blog, May 23, 2017

Last summer our bible class at church was working through the book of Colossians.| In one of the classes I was teaching we came to this puzzling text:
Colossians 1.24
Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church.
What does Paul mean when he says that he is "filling up what is lacking" in Christ's afflictions? We tend to assume that Jesus' sacrifice on the cross was sufficient, lacking in nothing.

So what's Paul talking about?


Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Wednesday Words - The Peace of Wild Things

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

"The Peace of Wild Things" by Wendell Berry, from The Selected Poems of Wendell Berry, © Copyright 1998.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Tuesday Tome - Leap Over a Wall

Cheri and I are enjoying Eugene Peterson's, Leap Over a Wall during our morning coffee time. What follows is an excerpt from a section about friendship based on the covenant friendship shared by David and Jonathan. Good insights for life!

“Each of us has contact with hundreds of people who never look beyond our surface appearance. We have dealings with hundreds of people who the moment they set their eyes on us begin calculating what use we can be to them, what they can get out of us. We meet hundreds of people who take one look at us, make a snap judgment, and then slot us into a category so that they won’t have to deal with us as persons. They treat us as something less than we are; and if we’re in constant association with them, we become less. And then someone enters our life who isn’t looking for someone to use, is leisurely enough to find out what’s really going on in us, is secure enough not to exploit our weaknesses or attack our strengths, recognizes our inner life and understands the difficulty of living out our inner convictions, confirms what’s deepest within us. A friend.”

by Eugene Peterson

Publisher's Description...
Leap Over a Wall is Eugene H. Peterson’s vibrant, insightful, and heartfelt exploration of one of the Bible’s most controversial figures: King David. Peterson beautifully elucidates the Old Testament’s rich depictions of David's failures and victories, recapturing their excitement and immediacy to reveal David himself as a crucially human example of how we relate to God. Leap Over a Wall is a unique opportunity to reconnect with David, a man simultaneously admirable, soulful, and dark, and one of the most complex and vital characters of the greatest story ever written.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Monday Music - Sam Amidon

Two Fridays ago, my wife and I enjoyed a terrific concert by the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. One of the features of the concert was the music of Sam Amidon. Raised in Vermont by folk-musician parents, Amidon sings and plays fiddle, banjo, and guitar. On several pieces he was accompanied by Pekka Kuusisto who added some beautiful texture and ambient sounds with an electric fiddle and a variety of effects pedals. There was also a string orchestration for one of the Amidon songs. All in all it was a creative blending of classical and folk music. Here is a video of Sam Amidon performing "Your Lone Journey" by Doc Watson's wife Rosa Lee Watson.


God’s given us years of happiness here
Now we must part
And as the angels come and call for you
The pangs of grief tug at my heart

   Oh my darling my darling
   My heart breaks as you take
   Your lone journey

Oh the days will be empty the nights so long
Without you my love
And as God calls for you I’m left alone
But we will meet in heaven above

Fond memories I’ll keep of the happy days
That on earth we trod
And when I come we will walk hand in hand
As one in heaven in the family of God

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Sunday Supplication - To Walk in His Ways

Almighty God, we give you thanks for the everlasting life we find in you. Help us to recognize your son Jesus Christ to be the way, the truth, and the life. Make us able to follow his steps and to walk in his ways to the glory of your name.

Lead us away from temptation. Free us from selfishness and pride. Give us the honesty and humility to recognize our need for your grace and mercy. Forgive us our sins and make us ready to forgive others.

You are faithful to your promises, O God. Help us to remember your promises and cling to the hope we have in you. Surround us with Christian friends who can encourage us and push us toward righteousness. Help each of us to be a source of encouragement and prompting for one another.

Through Christ, we pray. Amen.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Friday Favorites - Two Plant Sales in Burnsville

 Tomorrow there will be two nice plant sales in Burnsville. Maybe I'll see you there.

Plant sale by Sweet Sioux Garden Club, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Faith Covenant Church parking lot, 12921 Nicollet Ave., Burnsville. Features perennials from members’ gardens, perennials from South Cedar Greenhouse and combo kits from Wagner Greenhouse. Proceeds provide scholarships to horticulture students through the National Garden Clubs of MN. 

The City hosts a Native Plant Market each spring as a way to encourage people to grow native plants in their yards. In addition to beautifying the community, native plants provide food for pollinators, help improve water quality, and require less care than traditional garden plants.

Native Plant Market
  • Native wildflowers, ferns, and grasses will be available for sale from multiple vendors. 
  • This is a farmers market style event and each vendor operates their own market stall and is paid separately. 
  • Attendees should arrive early for the best selection!  The event is held rain or shine. 
  • Only CASH and CHECKS are accepted for payment. 

What:       Native Plant Market
When: Saturday, May 20, 2017
9 a.m. to 12 p.m.               
Where: Parking lot across from City Hall
(100 Civic Center Parkway)
Who: Open to all (including non-residents)

Market area will be closed to the public prior to 9 a.m. start time. 

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Thursday Thinking - Spiritual Formation Practices

Four Essential Practices for Spiritual Formation
by Derek Vreeland • Mission Alliance Blog - May10, 2017

The Christian faith is the way of Jesus, the way of life and love, lived out by those who faithfully follow him. We do not just believe certain things about Jesus, but we practice certain things in the way of Jesus, which is why the Apostle Paul instructs the church in Philippi to do more than learn, receive, and listen. Paul writes, “What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:9 ESV).

As years have become decades in my journey of following Jesus, I have identified four practices, four essential practices, that have guided me in the way of life, this life following Jesus. These four practices open up the door to all the other practices of the faith. Practice these things and watch the way of life open to you.


The four essential practices the author explains are:
     1. Awareness
     2. Learning
     3. Reflecting
     4. Action

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Wednesday Words - Gardener's Blessing

May God grant thee
Enough sun to warm the earth,
Enough rain to make things grow,
A good strong back,
A wide brimmed hat,
And a good sharp goose-neck hoe,
Strength for a day of toil
And some quiet evening hours,
With a sip of tea
And a gentle breeze,
And may all your weeds be wildflowers.

“Gardener’s Blessing” by Ralph Emerson Purkhiser, 

© Copyright 2004 from GreenPrints Magazine: Summer 2004, Issue 58.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Tuesday Tome - Surprise the World

The guest speaker at our Valley Men's Lodge breakfast last Saturday mentioned this book. It's a gem and gives practical advice on positive ways Christians can engage with the people around them.

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!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Sunday Supplication - Following Wherever He Leads

O God, we thank you for your Son Jesus, our good shepherd. Help us to hear his voice, and know him as he calls us by name, and to follow him wherever he leads.

Lead us away from temptation. Free us from selfishness and pride. Give us the honesty and humility to recognize our need for your grace and mercy. Forgive us our sins and make us ready to forgive others.

O God, help us to press on and to strain forward that we might know you more and more. Help us to take hold of the maturity and purpose you have in mind for us.

Through Christ, we pray. Amen.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Friday Favorites - Open Door Pantry

The Open Door Pantry is one of my favorite local charitable organizations. They do great work and they are making a huge difference in the lives of many people in our area. Our church supports their programs and we host their mobile pantry for a few hours a couple of times each week.

It doesn't look like much when you see the Open Door bus on our parking lot with a few people around it, but it is! Over the last year, just on their days at our church, Open Door has served over 3,800 people and distributed over 75,000 pounds of food. Thank you, Open Door!


Thursday, May 11, 2017

Thursday Thinking - Phones and Relationships

Came across this insightful article in The New York Times by Leslie Alderman. Good things to think about and some helpful suggestions for how to get back on track.
by Leslie Alderman | The New York Times, May 2, 2017

We have an intimate relationship with our phones. We sleep with them, eat with them and carry them in our pockets. We check them, on average, 47 times a day — 82 times if you’re between 18 and 24 years old, according to recent data.

And we love them for good reason: They tell the weather, the time of day and the steps we’ve taken. They find us dates (and sex), entertain us with music and connect us to friends and family. They answer our questions and quell feelings of loneliness and anxiety.

But phone love can go too far — so far that it can interfere with human love — old fashioned face-to-face intimacy with that living and breathing being you call your partner, spouse, lover or significant other.


Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Wednesday Words - Up Hill

Does the road wind up-hill all the way?
   Yes, to the very end.
Will the day’s journey take the whole long day?
   From morn to night, my friend.

But is there for the night a resting-place?
   A roof for when the slow dark hours begin.
May not the darkness hide it from my face?
   You cannot miss that inn.

Shall I meet other wayfarers at night?
   Those who have gone before.
Then must I knock, or call when just in sight?
   They will not keep you standing at that door.

Shall I find comfort, travel-sore and weak?
   Of labour you shall find the sum.
Will there be beds for me and all who seek?
   Yea, beds for all who come.

"Up Hill" by Christina Rossetti

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Tuesday Tome - For the High School Graduate

This is a practical, helpful, and readable gift for the Christian high school graduate in your life. I'm giving it to some of the kids from my church.

Make College Count: A Faithful Guide to Life & Learning
by Derek Melleby

Publisher's description...
There's more to college than classes, credits, and a nonstop social life. It's more than getting a degree to improve one's job prospects. College is a time where students develop into the adults they will be for the rest of their lives, a time to explore the big questions about life and human destiny, a time when they form their character and faith.

The perfect gift for high school graduation, Make College Count helps students make the most of their time in college. It encourages young people to ask important questions of themselves, such a Why are you going to college? What kind of person do you want to be? How do you want your life to influence others? With whom will you surround yourself? What do you believe? and more.

Sunday, May 07, 2017

Sunday Supplication - Faith to Recognize You

O God, open the eyes of our heart. Give us the faith to recognize you and to join you in your redeeming and healing work in our world.

O God, we humbly recognize our need for forgiveness and restoration. In our weakness and selfishness, we often fail each other, fail ourselves, and fail you.  Thank you for the hope and power we have through 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.

Help us, O God, to delight in your will, and to walk in your ways, to the glory of your name. Open our eyes to your presence and work in our lives. Give us the faith to see the possibilities and purposes you have for us at our work, in our homes, with our families, and with our neighbors, and in our church.

Through Christ, we pray. Amen.

Friday, May 05, 2017

Friday Favorites - What a Beautiful Day!

"My informal, unscientific poll finds 93.7 percent of all Minnesotans approve of sunny days with highs in the 60s and 70s. It’s amazing how popular the weatherman is on days like this. People who haven’t spoken to me in six months suddenly sing my praises. With all the 'feedback' we get for lousy weather days, I’ll take it."  –– MPR meteorologist Paul Huttner

Thursday, May 04, 2017

Thursday Thinking - Churches Partnering with Secular Community Groups

This article from Christianity Today's Pivot Blog has a number of really good things to think about...

8 Reasons Churches Should Partner with Secular Community Groups
by by Karl Vaters / Christianity Today Pivot Blog / March 2017
How can we reach our communities if they have no idea we love them? 
And how will they know we love them if we don’t work alongside them?
Our church used to partner exclusively with other Christian ministries. For everything from missions to community service. Before that, we would only partner with ministries in our denomination.

Today, while we still only partner with Christian groups for missions (can’t call it missions otherwise) up to half the groups we partner with for local community service are not Christian-based.

No, we haven’t gone soft on our faithfulness to the gospel. And we have standards for those we will and will not partner with. But in the last few years we’ve decided to step outside our previously normal routine and work with people and groups who don’t identify as faith-based. Most, maybe all of them, have Christians in key leadership positions. But that’s not why we work with them.

Here are 8 reasons why it’s important for us to work with secular community groups.

1. It Increases Our Sphere of Influence
2. It Can Impact Their Perception of Christians – And Jesus
3. It Bursts Our Church-World Bubble
4. It Shakes Up Our Comfort Zone
5. They'll Help Us Reach People We Can't Reach
6. It's Less Self-Serving
7. It Stretches Our Faith
8. It’s Humbling

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Wednesday Words - Sabbath Poem

Whatever is foreseen in joy
Must be lived out from day to day.
Vision held open in the dark
By our ten thousand days of work.
Harvest will fill the barn; for that
The hand must ache, the face must sweat.

And yet no leaf or grain is filled
By work of ours; the field is tilled
And left to grace. That we may reap,
Great work is done while we're asleep.

When we work well, a Sabbath mood
Rests on our day, and finds it good.

"1979, no. X (Sabbath Poems)" by Wendell Berry, from A Timbered Choir. © Counterpoint, 1998.

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Tuesday Tome - A Timbered Choir

My wife and I love the stories and poems of Wendell Berry. Many is the time we have read aloud a favorite passage to each other. If you're interested in checking out his poetry, A Timbered Choir might be a good place to start. Tomorrow, I'll post a poem from this book.

From Library Journal--
Winner of the T.S. Eliot Award, Berry spends Sunday mornings in walking meditation in the forests and fields around his Port Royal, KY, farm. During these walks he writes, and he has brought many of these poems together in the present volume. Berry has long been an articulate and passionate defender of the environment, and his "Sabbath poems," spanning 20 years, bring the reader close to the earth, the fields and flowers, richness of the soil, and diversity of the seasons: "Too late for frost, too early for flies,/ the air carries only birdsong, the long/ breath of wind in leaves." The poet has a marvelous ear for interior rhyme: "Horse and cow,/ plow and hoe, grass to graze/ and hay to mow have brought me/ here, and taught me where I am." These poems are not uniformly pastoral; Berry reflects, too, on war, technology, and the economy in these pages, but always with a heartfelt devotion first and foremost for the earth. A contemplative treasure; highly recommended. --Judy Clarence, California State University Library.