Thursday, March 01, 2018

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Three Views of Marriage

This New York Times op-ed essay was brought to my attention through a friend on FaceBook yesterday. It's by David Brooks and was originally published in February 2016.

Brooks talks about three lens for viewing marriage: The Psychological, The Romantic, and The Moral. He closes with these words...

"In the romantic view, the heart is transformed by love, at any age. In the moral view, spiritual transformation — over a lifetime, not just over two passionate years — is the whole point. People have great power to go against their own natures and uplift their spouses, by showing a willingness to change, by supporting their journey from an old crippled self to a new more beautiful self. 
"The three lenses are operating at different levels: personality, emotions, the level of the virtues and the vices. The first two lenses are very common in our culture — in bookstores, songs and in movies. But the moral lens, with its view of marriage as a binding moral project, is less common. Maybe that’s one of the reasons the quality of the average marriage is in decline."


Friday, February 09, 2018

Ten Ways to Have a Better Conversation

This video presents a good challenge and gives good advice...

Celeste Headlee has worked as a radio host for decades, and she knows the ingredients of a great conversation: Honesty, brevity, clarity and a healthy amount of listening. In this insightful talk, she shares 10 useful rules for having better conversations. "Go out, talk to people, listen to people," she says. "And, most importantly, be prepared to be amazed."

Monday, January 29, 2018

SPCO GRAMMY - Death and the Maiden

Congratulations to the SPCO and Patricia Kopatchinskaja for winning the Grammy Award for Best Chamber Music / Small Ensemble! I was at the live performance and loved it. That performance was an indescribable "just had to be there" experience, but the magic must have translated well into the recording. We are so very fortunate to have world class music performances in the Twin Cities.

More information and audio:

Friday, January 12, 2018

David Brooks on Anti-Trumpism

Passing along this interesting column from David Brooks in the New York TImes...

Anti-Trump lowbrowism burst into full 
bloom with the new Michael Wolff book.

Let me start with three inconvenient observations, based on dozens of conversations around Washington over the past year:

First, people who go into the White House to have a meeting with President Trump usually leave pleasantly surprised. They find that Trump is not the raving madman they expected from his tweetstorms or the media coverage. They generally say that he is affable, if repetitive. He runs a normal, good meeting and seems well-informed enough to get by.

Second, people who work in the Trump administration have wildly divergent views about their boss. Some think he is a deranged child, as Michael Wolff reported. But some think he is merely a distraction they can work around. Some think he is strange, but not impossible. Some genuinely admire Trump. Many filter out his crazy stuff and pretend it doesn’t exist.

My impression is that the Trump administration is an unhappy place to work, because there is a lot of infighting and often no direction from the top. But this is not an administration full of people itching to invoke the 25th Amendment.

Third, the White House is getting more professional. Imagine if Trump didn’t tweet. The craziness of the past weeks would be out of the way, and we’d see a White House that is briskly pursuing its goals: the shift in our Pakistan policy, the shift in our offshore drilling policy, the fruition of our ISIS policy, the nomination for judgeships and the formation of policies on infrastructure, DACA, North Korea and trade.

It’s almost as if there are two White Houses. There’s the Potemkin White House, which we tend to focus on: Trump berserk in front of the TV, the lawyers working the Russian investigation and the press operation. Then there is the Invisible White House that you never hear about, which is getting more effective at managing around the distracted boss.

I sometimes wonder if the Invisible White House has learned to use the Potemkin White House to deke us while it changes the country...

Friday, December 15, 2017

Time to Call it Quits?

Well, I haven't posted anything on the Altered Faces blog since putting it aside for a break back in September. In the meantime, I haven't had many comments or questions indicating that my absence was noticed. Who knows, in a world filled with insurmountable amounts of information pouring in from everywhere, everyday, my absence in the blogosphere may be some small relief.

I'm not going to delete the blog, but I'll probably only post stuff when I have some new discovery, experience, or insight I really want or need to share. And based on the last three months, that may not happen very often.

Until the next post (whenever or if ever it comes along), it's been nice sharing with you.

Bow wow!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017


Hello Friends.

As many of you know, Valley Christian Church is in the thick of moving to a new location.  We're also kicking off our Fall Ministry Programs. With all of the packing, preparation, and extra demands, I've decided I need to take a break from this blog until October.

Your prayers and support over the next few weeks are greatly appreciated.


Sunday, September 10, 2017

SUN Supplication - The Things that Last Forever

O Lord, help us to not to be stressed out over earthly troubles, but, instead trust that you will see us through. Even now, as we live among things that are passing away, help us to hold on to the things that last forever.

We confess our sins and we thank you for your faithfulness to forgive us and purify us. And as your grateful children, teach us and help us to be faithful to forgive others. May the grace of Jesus help us restore relationships, heal wounds, calm fears, forgive offenses, and resolve conflicts.

O God, help us find our life and meaning and purpose in Jesus. We desire to surrender to him more and more. Give us the wisdom and the will to submit ourselves to you as we follow Him.

It’s in his name that we pray these things. Amen.

Friday, September 08, 2017

FRI Favorites - John Prine
I'm looking forward seeing this guy in person tonight. Prine is a salty old songwriter and it should be a lot of fun. I'm glad I get to share the experience with my oldest grandson,

Thursday, September 07, 2017

THURS Thinking - Prayers for a Relocating Church

Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
and lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge him,
And he will make your path straight.

O God, you have been our hope in ages past and you are our hope for years to come.
You are our Good Shepherd. Lead us into the days ahead. We fear no evil because you are with us. You have opened a door of opportunity; help us to enter into it with wholehearted trust.

You know the challenges that lie ahead; give us the confidence that accompanies faith in your provision. You know our needs before we ask; remind us to pray as children who believe you are a caring Father. Bind us together as a church family. Empower us as we spur one another on toward love and good deeds.

Through Christ, we pray. Amen.

O God, your ways are higher than ours. No human wisdom or knowledge can compare with yours. Before a word is in our mouth, you know it. Your knowledge is before us and behind us. Reverence for you is the beginning of wisdom. Seeking you is the first step in seeking truth.

Help us to humble ourselves and listen for your voice – through Scripture, through prayer, and through the counsel of Spirit-led community.  Help us to believe you more than we believe ourselves. Help us to remember that sound thinking is always rooted in humility before you and submission to you. Give us the clarity of mind that is quickened by faith in you. Give us the wisdom that comes through Christ Jesus, a wisdom born of grace and submission.

We pray through Christ. Amen.

O God, we make our plans but it is you who directs our steps. We set a course, but we do not know what tomorrow brings. We strive to be prudent, but even a prudent plan is subject to unexpected and unplanned circumstances and influences. In all our ways, O God, make us quick to acknowledge you.

Whether in life or death; whether in plenty or in want; whether in loss our gain; whether through success or failure, be our ballast and our foundation. Help us to keep our eyes on Jesus, the one who goes before us, the author and perfecter of our faith.

It is in his name that we pray. Amen.

PROMISE...O God, make our path straight as we trust you, lean on you, and acknowledge you. You have promised to lead us into a better way. You have promised that you will not fail us. You have promised that your wisdom will help us to persevere through every challenge and opportunity. You have promised to keep us and save us and grant us success as we seek and acknowledge you.

Help us to cling to your promises and to work and live as people who believe you are the great promise keeper. Help us to trust you to keep your promises as we transition to a new building; as we begin a new chapter in the life of our church; as we give ourselves to the work of the Kingdom; and as we commit ourselves to ministry and encouragement toward each other and toward our community.

We pray through Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit – One God, now and forever. Amen.

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

WED Words – Last Night the Rain Spoke to Me

Last night
the rain
spoke to me
slowly, saying,

what joy
to come falling out of the brisk cloud,
to be happy again

in a new way
on the earth!
That’s what it said
as it dropped,

smelling of iron
and vanished
like a dream of the ocean
into the branches

and the grass below.
Then it was over.
The sky cleared.
I was standing

under a tree.
The tree was a tree
with happy leaves,
and I was myself

and there were stars in the sky,
that were also themselves
at the moment,
at which moment

my right hand
was holding my left hand
which was holding the tree
which was filled with stars

and the soft rain –
imagine! imagine!
the long wondrous journey
still to be ours.

"Last Night the Rain Spoke to Me" by Mary Oliver from What Do We Know: Poems and Prose Poems, © Copyright 2002 by Mary Oliver.

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

TUES Tome - Surprise the World

Surprise the World by Michael Frost is a companion book for my next teaching series – "Your Surprising Life." The series begins next Sunday, September 10.  The goal of this book and my teaching series is to give our measurable and practical strategies for blessing and reaching out to friends and neighbors.
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!