Wednesday, December 30, 2009


two great quotes on reconciliation from Nouwen...
A Ministry that Never Ends

Reconciliation is much more than a one-time event by which a conflict is resolved and peace established. A ministry of reconciliation goes far beyond problem solving, mediation, and peace agreements. There is not a moment in our lives without the need for reconciliation. When we dare to look at the myriad hostile feelings and thoughts in our hearts and minds, we will immediately recognize the many little and big wars in which we take part. Our enemy can be a parent, a child, a "friendly" neighbor, people with different lifestyles, people who do not think as we think, speak as we speak, or act as we act. They all can become "them." Right there is where reconciliation is needed.

Reconciliation touches the most hidden parts of our souls. God gave reconciliation to us as a ministry that never ends.

Letting Go of Old Hurts

One of the hardest things in life is to let go of old hurts. We often say, or at least think: "What you did to me and my family, my ancestors, or my friends I cannot forget or forgive. ... One day you will have to pay for it." Sometimes our memories are decades, even centuries, old and keep asking for revenge.

Holding people's faults against them often creates an impenetrable wall. But listen to Paul: "For anyone who is in Christ, there is a new creation: the old order is gone and a new being is there to see. It is all God's work" (2 Corinthians 5:17-18). Indeed, we cannot let go of old hurts, but God can. Paul says: "God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not holding anyone's fault against them" (2 Corinthians 5:19). It is God's work, but we are God's ministers, because the God who reconciled the world to God entrusted to us "the message of reconciliation" (2 Corinthians 5:19). This message calls us to let go of old hurts in the Name of God. It is the message our world most needs to hear.
- Nouwen; from "Bread for the Journey" (Dec. 29 and 30)

Saturday, December 26, 2009

mom's wedding cookies

Yes, it's been a while since I posted. Isn't the holiday season and busy schedules crazy?

Anyway, my mom has a delicious wedding cookie recipe that I want to keep handy...

2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
2 sticks of butter
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups of nuts (pecans)

A. cream butter and sugar with mixer
add vanilla and mix

B. mix salt and flour well

C. add salt and flour to butter and sugar mixture
batter will be very stiff

D. add nuts on low speed

E. roll 1 round teaspoon of dough in hands making a ball

F. place on an ungreased cookie sheet

G. 325 degree oven for 20 minutes

yields approx. 70-85 cookies

after cooling, cover with powdered sugar if desired

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

spiritual maturity?

How do you define spiritual maturity?
We're so committed to discovering and applying God's principles for making life work that we no longer value intimacy with God as our greatest blessing. We're more attracted to sermons, books and conferences that reveal the secrets to fulfillment in everything we do than to spiritual direction that leads us through affliction into the presence of the Father...

We no longer identify ourselves as a community of visibly broken saints, men and women profoundly grateful for grace, knowing we're dead without it...
- Larry Crabb, The Pressure's Off, p.183

Monday, November 02, 2009

are you poor?

Who Are the Poor?

The poor are the center of the Church. But who are the poor? At first we might think of people who are not like us: people who live in slums, people who go to soup kitchens, people who sleep on the streets, people in prisons, mental hospitals, and nursing homes. But the poor can be very close. They can be in our own families, churches or workplaces. Even closer, the poor can be ourselves, who feel unloved, rejected, ignored, or abused.

It is precisely when we see and experience poverty - whether far away, close by, or in our own hearts - that we need to become the Church; that is hold hands as brothers and sisters, confess our own brokenness and need, forgive one another, heal one another's wounds, and gather around the table of Jesus for the breaking of the bread. Thus, as the poor we recognize Jesus, who became poor for us.
Henri J.M. Nouwen - Bread for the Journey

Thursday, October 29, 2009

happy birthday internet (off topic)

today is the 40th birthday of the internet (sorry Al Gore it wasn't you!)

actually 1 day before my mom's birthday - so happy birthday, mom, too!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

if on a winter's night... (sting)

I picked up Sting's newest release today, "If On a Winter's Night..."

A nice project. Christmas? I'd consider it more of a classical pop CD than anything else, but it was very relaxing to listen to while working this morning. Rather funny listening to Sting attempt to sing in a "classical" style on some of the tracks.

A soothing musical backdrop for a cold, rainy day like today.

disordered desires

(bold is mine - DT)
If we are honest, we all know something about disordered desires. Most of us know the possibility of forming a false attachment to someone, looking to them to meet needs that can never be met by any human. Or if we have never felt the fleeting gratification of such an idolatrous attachment, perhaps we... know the desire for it. Most of us also realize that we can form the same sort of false attachment to possessions, money being perhaps the easiest object for this. Many of us also know disordered desire that comes from a false attachment to reputation and image.

One of the ways I have found helpful to distinguish between ordered and disordered desires is the particular, though some times subtle, effect each has on me. Ordered —or purified— desires expand me and connect me to others and the world in life-enhancing ways. Disordered desires suck me into myself and rather than adding vitality to life, leach it away. This is because ordered desires spring from willingness and surrender, while disordered ones are my willful attempt to arrange for my own happiness and fulfillment.

When I desire nothing more than God alone, I experience a deep sense of well-being and connectedness. Paradoxically, this is a longing that leaves me feeling not empty but complete. It is a longing that draws me not only toward God but also toward others. It is a longing that leaves me feeling open and alive.

In contrast, when my lust for respect rears its ugly head, I become aware of a feeling of deficit. There is something that I think I need in order to feel complete, and this something is outside of me, beyond me. Thinking I can produce it by my own efforts rather than receive it as a gift, I willfully set out to get it by sacrificing reality on the altar of appearances and hoping that others will notice the appearance. But because this involves treating people as objects — potential sources of the soothing balm of admiration to which I am addicted - I feel cut off from those whose esteem I seek. And because the choice of appearance over reality always involves turning my back on God, I feel equally cut off from life and vitality.

But why talk about this as a disordered desire? Why not simply call it sin?

While it is sinful — as is anything that springs from the kingdom of self, any idolatrous attempt to live independently of surrender to God — I find it helpful to think of it as a disordered desire because this language reminds me that at its core it is something good. At the core of my desire to be viewed with respect is a God-given desire for love. The love that I really desire and most deeply need is not however, dependent on my performance. The love I most deeply long for is the only love that can truly set me free — the perfect and absolutely unconditional love of God.
- David G. Benner, Desiring God's Will, p.85-86

Friday, October 23, 2009

farm music machine?

Unfortunately this is another urban legend, but it is a pretty cool video, and would be way cool if you really could make something like this out of farm equipment.

and to prove it's animation...

Friday, October 16, 2009

not guilty

Yes, it's been a few weeks since my last post, and the Friday videos too... has anyone missed them? Well, it's been a busy few weeks, attending the Brooklyn Tabernacle Music Conference and family visiting the week before that. But here I am, and here's this week's Friday video. Great song!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

don't read this book...

...unless you're weary, struggling to make your life work, just can't seem to get it right, or ALL OF THE ABOVE!

Seriously, this is one of our current small group books, and it has the potential to be life changing! Several of our small group members have said it has already changed their lives, and we're not even halfway through it yet. I firmly believe it's a message every person needs to read. (You can order a copy from by clicking on the image to the right under "currently reading".)

Here's one of my favorite quotes so far...
“People who live the New Way believe the Law of Liberty. They come as they are. They do not bathe before they approach God. They come to God for the bath. They feel no pressure to change either their inner life or their outer life, but they desire change in both spheres. And they are eager to do whatever will create the opportunity for change, even if it means dipping themselves seven times in a muddy river or marching around an enemy’s wall for seven days and blowing trumpets. They live for the truest desire of their hearts: to know God and to enjoy Him. They do not live for a better life in this world. And when their life here is hard, when things fall apart, they most clearly reveal who they are. They’re citizens of another world who most want what this world can never provide. So they wisely indulge their deepest desire and trust God to reveal Himself to them. That’s the Law of Liberty."
(the bold is my addition - favorite part of the quote!)

Friday, September 18, 2009

still a great story

Susan Boyle on America's Got Talent 2009

Friday, September 11, 2009

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

laughing with...

My MD (middle daughter) turned me on to this song. I think the sentiment is so true, and profound enough to post here. Oddly, every time I hear this, it really touches me.

Regina Spektor - "Laughing With"

No one laughs at God in a hospital
No one laughs at God in a war
No one's laughing at God when they're starving or freezing or so very poor

No one laughs at God when the doctor calls after some routine tests
No one's laughing at God when it's gotten real late and their kid's not back from that party yet

No one laughs at God when their airplane starts to uncontrollably shake
No one's laughing at God when they see the one they love hand in hand with someone else and they hope that they're mistaken
No one laughs at God when the cops knock on their door and they say "We've got some bad new, sir,"
No one's laughing at God when there's a famine, fire or flood

But God can be funny
At a cocktail party while listening to a good God-themed joke or
Or when the crazies say he hates us and they get so red in the head you think that they're about to choke

God can be funny
When told he'll give you money if you just pray the right way
And when presented like a genie
Who does magic like Houdini
Or grants wishes like Jiminy Cricket and Santa Claus

God can be so hilarious
Ha ha
Ha ha

No one laughs at God in a hospital
No one laughs at God in a war
No one's laughing at God when they've lost all they got and they don't know what for

No one laughs at God on the day they realize that the last sight they'll ever see is a pair of hateful eyes
No one's laughing at God when they're saying their goodbyes

But God can be funny
At a cocktail party while listening to a good God-themed joke or
Or when the crazies say he hates us and they get so red in the head you think that they're about to choke

God can be funny
When told he'll give you money if you just pray the right way
And when presented like a genie
Who does magic like Houdini
Or grants wishes like Jiminy Cricket and Santa Claus

God can be so hilarious

No one laughs at God in a hospital
No one laughs at God in a war

No one laughs at God in a hospital
No one laughs at God in a war

No one's laughing at God in a hospital
No one's laughing at God in a war

No one's laughing at God when they're starving or freezing or so very poor

No one's laughing at God
No one's laughing at God
No one's laughing at God
We're all laughing with God

Friday, September 04, 2009

amazing acapella choir

This is an amazing acapella choir. Enjoy!

Thursday, September 03, 2009

emotions... good or bad?

from Dr. Gary Chapman's "Love Language Minute" email today. Before you read, ask yourself, and answer honestly, how many times has someone asked you, "how are you?" and the answer was... "fine." How many times have you answered, "fine", when things were not fine? ESPECIALLY at church... read on...
Becoming Friends with Your Feelings

I often hear people ask, "How are you feeling today?" The common answer is, "Fine." It was a good question, but not a good answer. Why do we ignore our feelings or camouflage them with such words as "fine" or "not so well"? Feelings are a part of who we are. We have emotions because we are made in the image of God.

How dull life would be if we had no feelings. Imagine watching a sunset, a ball game, or the ocean and feeling no emotion. Feelings are a gift of God to help us enjoy life and process pain. Certainly sometimes we feel lonely, disappointed, and frustrated, but these emotions push us to take constructive action. Pause and thank God for whatever emotion you are presently feeling. Ask Him to guide your actions.

Some Christians are critical of their emotions. They will say, "Don't trust your emotions. Faith, not feelings, is the road to spiritual growth." Why are we so critical of our emotions? In Mark chapter three, Jesus felt anger and sorrow. Is that bad? I don't think any of us would condemn Jesus for having emotions. Then why do we condemn ourselves?

God gave us emotions for growth, maturity, fulfillment, and enjoyment. Feelings were made to be our friends. If it is a negative emotion, it means something needs attention. It is like the red light that appears on the dash when your car needs oil. We don't curse the light; we give attention to the problem. Why not do the same with your emotions? If you take constructive actions, emotions have served their purpose.
Adapted from The Marriage You've Always Wanted Bible Study by Dr. Gary Chapman. To find out more about Dr. Chapman's resources, visit

Monday, August 31, 2009

great quotes

great quotes from yesterday's sermon @ Truth Tabernacle of Praise

Michael Yaconelli in Messy Spirituality:
“Unfortunately, in many religious circles, there exists an unwritten rule. Pretend. Act like God is in control when you don’t believe he is. Give the impression everything is okay in your life when it’s not. Pretend you believe when you doubt; hide your imperfections; maintain the image of a perfect marriage with healthy and well-adjusted children when your family is like any other normal dysfunctional family. And whatever you do, don’t admit that you sin…."

Henri Nouwen, The Genesee Diary:
“He who thinks that he is finished is finished. How true. Those who think that they have arrived, have lost their way. Those who think they have reached their goal, have missed it. Those who think they are saints, are demons.”

C. S. Lewis
“One essential symptom of the regenerate life is a permanent and permanently horrified perception of one's natural and (it seems) unalterable corruption. The true Christian's nostril is to be continually attentive to the inner cesspool.”

Friday, August 28, 2009

souled out

Yes! This choir is killin' me!!!

Friday, August 21, 2009

awesome God

lovin' the choreography!

Monday, August 17, 2009

clinging to God in solitude

Clinging to God in Solitude

When we enter into solitude to be with God alone, we quickly discover how dependent we are. Without the many distractions of our daily lives, we feel anxious and tense. When nobody speaks to us, calls on us, or needs our help, we start feeling like nobodies. Then we begin wondering whether we are useful, valuable, and significant. Our tendency is to leave this fearful solitude quickly and get busy again to reassure ourselves that we are "somebodies." But that is a temptation, because what makes us somebodies is not other people's responses to us but God's eternal love for us.

To claim the truth of ourselves we have to cling to our God in solitude as to the One who makes us who we are.

- Henri J.M. Nouwen - Bread for the Journey

Friday, August 14, 2009

I'm going with Jesus

Okay, a more "traditional" Friday video.

mixing video (off topic)

Okay, this is somewhat off topic, but ran across this in Church Production magazine yesterday. Soundcraft has a whole series of training videos online now for free. You used to have to purchase a DVD. Check out

Saturday, August 08, 2009

unconditional love

Being Unconditional Witnesses

Good news becomes bad news when it is announced without peace and joy. Anyone who proclaims the forgiving and healing love of Jesus with a bitter heart is a false witness. Jesus is the savior of the world. We are not. We are called to witness, always with our lives and sometimes with our words, to the great things God has done for us. But this witness must come from a heart that is willing to give without getting anything in return.

The more we trust in God's unconditional love for us, the more able we will be to proclaim the love of Jesus without any inner or outer conditions.

- Henri J.M. Nouwen - Bread for the Journey

Thursday, August 06, 2009

sacred sabbath

great article in my inbox today. posting it here so I don't lose it. lengthy but worth the read.
"Sacred Sabbath"
by Dan Reiland

This is a tough topic for me to write on. Perhaps God has prompted me to write this article more for me than you. I'm not sure. Slowing down is difficult for me. I like what I do. No, I love what I do. I love the people I work with. Living life with a purpose bigger than me is exciting.

When I was much younger, I worked too much. I may still work a little too much. But now I understand the depth of the issues in play and have, for many years, experienced the great value of a day off. I might sneak in a phone call or check email for a few minutes, but for the most part I actually take a day off. Friday is my day. I've grown to love it. When something comes up that consumes a Friday, I find some time on another day of the week.

This subject may seem basic to you, especially in light of the clarity of Scripture. Genesis 2:2-3 says "By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day He rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it He rested from all the work of creating that He had done."

Rest. That's a key part of a healthy rhythm for any spiritual leader. One writer said: "Come apart and rest or come apart." Good advise. It's such good advise that God placed it in the 10 Commandments. Exodus 20:8-11 says "Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but He rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy."

God didn't need to rest. He wasn't tired. In fact, He's omnipotent. He rested from His work because He delighted in the rest, in the enjoyment of His own creation. And with the Sabbath idea, He blessed and sanctified the seventh day as a day to honor rest, a holy kind of rest. I have never believed this means to lay on the couch, chill out and watch TV all day. I believe it's a time to be more aware than usual of God's power, the glory of His creation and His presence in the unfolding story of your life. It's a time to change gears and shut down from your normal pace and rest from the pressures that try to consume you.

A personal insight from me to you -- something I've learned from a long journey as a spiritual leader. When I'm too busy to take a day off, ultimately, it's about trust. It's about whether or not I trust God to cover what I can't get to. Too heavy? Maybe. Again, I love doing what I do. My contribution is noticeable, perhaps, at times, even significant. But really, is the world going to stop if I don't run it seven days a week? Really?!

How about you? Is your world, your church, your life going to crash because you take a day off? Or is it more likely that it will crash if you don't?

Let's take a short trip in the other direction. Scripture does make it clear that you and I are to work for six days. You can interpret that however you want. Personally, I'm not a legalist about much of anything in life, but six is six. Even I can count that far. This article isn't about how many days you take off or how many hours you work a week. It's about when you find your Sabbath and what you do with it. But I couldn't write this article without making a clear comment that God calls us to work much more than He calls us to rest. Just a thought.

The goal isn't rest itself. The purpose is renewal so you can go back to work and accomplish what God has given you to do. Live to work? Work to live? I know, heavy matters of philosophy. But I keep it simple. God has me here for a reason. I'm not a random collection of DNA. I'm a unique creation with a purpose. Frankly, I'm fired up about that. I have no interest in a gold watch. I'm in for the work God has for me.

The purpose of the Sabbath is to acknowledge the majesty of God and His creation and to find rest and renewal for the work His has for you. And, by the way, your Sabbath should be fun! Enjoy the day. That's what God did!

In Christ we've been set free from the requirements of the law and the treadmill of good works. God has given us rest in His Son, rest that we could never gain ourselves. So don't start worrying if you are doing the Sabbath right! Just rest. Enjoy the day. Work in your garden. Ride your motorcycle. Plan golf. Run 10 miles. Play the piano. See a movie. Read a book. Pray. You have freedom. Just live the day in a way that renews your soul. I often get a massage. I don't get one every week, but for me, a good massage is like a gift from heaven. Now that is a good Sabbath!

Remember what Jesus said about the Sabbath in Mark 2:27; "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath." God designed this day of rest for you. You are not trapped by rules or regulations. I don't think the Sabbath principle negates, for example, the story of the good Samaritan. You might even help someone on your day off!

I don't think the purpose of the 4th commandment is to make us think about God once a week, but to remind us that all of life is under His control. Taking a day off each week is only part of a healthy rhythm for a spiritual leader. I believe your time with God in prayer each day is a critical part of the equation. I don't think your soul and spirit knows what to do with a day off if you haven't had set aside time with Jesus in prayer all week.

So how about you? If you take a regular day off and use it wisely, good for you. Keep it up. If you struggle with taking time off as many do, I urge you to act on what you know to be true. God can handle it while you take a break. He really can. In fact, you will be in better shape after your day off to handle the weighty things that tempt you to keep going.

This summer I'm taking some vacation time just with my son John-Peter, just the two of us. Patti is taking some vacation time with our daughter Mackenzie, just the two of them. We will thoroughly enjoy some close one to one time. Can you see some Sabbath ideas in that? We do and are so looking forward to it.

Work hard, stay on purpose, and find your Sabbath rhythm. Take it from a guy who didn't get it from the beginning. I'm sort of a Sabbath convert, it works and has become sacred to me. I hope it is for you too.

Friday, July 31, 2009

God Is Still Doing Great Things

Not the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir, but... WOW! The heart is there.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

two kinds of loneliness

In the spiritual life we have to make a distinction between two kinds of loneliness. In the first loneliness, we are out of touch with God and experience ourselves as anxiously looking for someone or something that can give us a sense of belonging, intimacy, and home. The second loneliness comes from an intimacy with God that is deeper and greater than our feelings and thoughts can capture.

We might think of these two kinds of loneliness as two forms of blindness. The first blindness comes from the absence of light, the second from too much light. The first loneliness we must try to outgrow with faith and hope. The second we must be willing to embrace in love.

- from Henri J.M. Nouwen's Bread for the Journey

Friday, July 17, 2009

Friday video

We had VBS this week. A.I.M. = Agents in Motion with a spy theme, so we used the theme song from Inspector Gadget as our pre-roll music. I ran across this on youtube... pretty amazing skillset. :-)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

being broken

Jesus was broken on the cross. He lived his suffering and death not as an evil to avoid at all costs, but as a mission to embrace. We too are broken. We live with broken bodies, broken hearts, broken minds or broken spirits. We suffer from broken relationships.

How can we live our brokenness? Jesus invites us to embrace our brokenness as he embraced the cross and live it as part of our mission. He asks us not to reject our brokenness as a curse from God that reminds us of our sinfulness but to accept it and put it under God's blessing for our purification and sanctification. Thus our brokenness can become a gateway to new life.

- Henri J.M. Nouwen - Bread for the Journey

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

can your church handle the truth?

A great article on community and recovery from Leadership magazine.

ready for your tax cut?

Obama Wants to Cut Taxes? - John Stossel's Take

A bold idea, and I think, one whose time has come! By the way, note the label for this post - "humor" - since we all know this will never actually happen. But... we can dream that sound advice for African nations would be good enough for the USA. Unfortunately just another case of political double-speak.

Sorry for the off topic post, but the headline caught my eye, and I couldn't resist.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Thursday, July 09, 2009

the children's bible

Okay, this was just too funny not to post. Hope you smile - I sure did!
A child was asked to write a book report on the entire Bible. This is amazing and brought tears of laughter to my eyes. I wonder how often we take for granted that children understand what we are teaching???

Through the eyes of a child:

The Children's Bible in a Nutshell

In the beginning, which occurred near the start, there was nothing but God, darkness, and some gas. The Bible says, 'The Lord thy God is one, but I think He must be a lot older than that.

Anyway, God said, 'Give me a light!' and someone did.

Then God made the world.
He split the Adam and made Eve. Adam and Eve were naked, but they weren't embarrassed because mirrors hadn't been invented yet..

Adam and Eve disobeyed God by eating one bad apple, so they were driven from the Garden of Eden.....Not sure what they were driven in though, because they didn't have cars.

Adam and Eve had a son, Cain, who hated his brother as long as he was Abel.

Pretty soon all of the early people died off, except for Methuselah, who lived to be like a million or something.

One of the next important people was Noah, who was a good guy, but one of his kids was kind of a Ham. Noah built a large boat and put his family and some animals on it. He asked some other people to join him, but they said they would have to take a rain check.

After Noah came Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Jacob was more famous than his brother, Esau, because Esau sold Jacob his birthmark in exchange for some pot roast. Jacob had a son named Joseph who wore a really loud sports coat.

Another important Bible guy is Moses, whose real name was Charlton Heston. Moses led the Israel Lights out of Egypt and away from the evil Pharaoh after God sent ten plagues on Pharaoh's people. These plagues included frogs, mice, lice, bowels, and no cable.

God fed the Israel Lights every day with manicotti. Then he gave them His Top Ten Commandments.. These include: don't lie, cheat, smoke, dance, or covet your neighbor's stuff.
Oh, yeah, I just thought of one more: Humor thy father and thy mother.

One of Moses' best helpers was Joshua who was the first Bible guy to use spies. Joshua fought the battle of Geritol and the fence fell over on the town.

After Joshua came David. He got to be king by killing a giant with a slingshot. He had a son named Solomon who had about 300 wives and 500 porcupines. My teacher says he was wise, but that doesn't sound very wise to me.

After Solomon there were a bunch of major league prophets. One of these was Jonah, who was swallowed by a big whale and then barfed up on the shore.

There were also some minor league prophets, but I guess we don't have to worry about them.

After the Old Testament came the New Testament. Jesus is the star of The New. He was born in Bethlehem in a barn. (I wish I had been born in a barn too, because my mom is always saying to me, 'Close the door! Were you born in a barn?' It would be nice to say, 'As a matter of fact, I was.')

During His life, Jesus had many arguments with sinners like the Pharisees and the Democrats.

Jesus also had twelve opossums.
The worst one was Judas Asparagus. Judas was so evil that they named a terrible vegetable after him.

Jesus was a great man. He healed many leopards and even preached to some Germans on the Mount.

But the Democrats and all those guys put Jesus on trial before Pontius the Pilot. Pilot didn't stick up for Jesus. He just washed his hands instead.

Anyways, Jesus died for our sins, then came back to life again. He went up to Heaven but will be back at the end of the Aluminum. His return is foretold in the book of Revolution.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

the wounded healer

Nobody escapes being wounded. We all are wounded people, whether physically, emotionally, mentally, or spiritually. The main question is not "How can we hide our wounds?" so we don't have to be embarrassed, but "How can we put our woundedness in the service of others?" When our wounds cease to be a source of shame, and become a source of healing, we have become wounded healers.

Jesus is God's wounded healer: through his wounds we are healed. Jesus' suffering and death brought joy and life. His humiliation brought glory; his rejection brought a community of love. As followers of Jesus we can also allow our wounds to bring healing to others.

Henri J.M. Nouwen - Bread for the Journey

Friday, June 19, 2009

Friday, June 12, 2009

why is this happening to me?

Have you ever asked that question? Recently?

Okay, I thought this was just too cute not to post. Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

10 stupid things that keep churches from growing

  1. leaders do it all - instead, give away ministry; let others do what God created them to do
  2. establishing wrong role for the pastor's family - should have a "no church" zone; frequently get away; ask for help if/when necessary (counseling)
  3. second rate worship experiences
  4. low quality children's ministry
  5. promoting talent over integrity
  6. clinging to bad location
  7. copying another successful church - instead know who God has called you to be
  8. favor discipline over reconciliation
  9. mixing ministry and business
  10. letting committees steer the ship
from Ten Stupid Things That Keep Churches from Growing
listened to a webcast on
only discussed the first 3 on the webcast, though.

quote of the day

The paradoxical law of God's kingdom is that it is only when we give up what we clutch most desperately that we will receive it.
- David G. Benner, Desiring God's Will, p.41
There is no reason to feel guilty if you find it difficult to surrender to God’s will. Even Christ found it hard. He who knew the depth and dependability of the love of God better than any human also struggled to surrender to the demand of Love that he lay down his life. It seemed to be—and was—horribly unnatural. (p.41)

Monday, June 08, 2009

things I'm learning

Okay, I know some are wondering what's up with me, especially my peace with the major transitions that are happening at Truth Tabernacle of Praise.

Here are a few things I have been reminded of during this process as well as the last year or so. Hopefully you'll be encouraged, as I have been.

1. It's not MY church, it's God's church. If it's to be built, He will build it.
"I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it." (Matt 16:18 NASB)

2. If He began it, He will complete it.
...being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:6 NIV)

3. I don't have to do everything.
And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; (Eph 4:11-12 NASB)

4. The body has had enough time to learn (and has been taught) what it should be about, and we have now been given an opportunity for each member to put those things into practice.
I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already attained. (Philippians 3:14-16 NIV)

5. I have really only one responsibility - faithfulness to my calling. Boy, does that take the pressure off for numbers, results, and success as most define it.
Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful. (1 Cor 4:2 NKJV)

6. Stay humble.
He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8 NASB)

7. When all else fails...
Love never fails! (1 Cor 13:8 NASB)

Of course, that's not everything I've learned and am still learning, but those are a few of the things that free my heart and soul to rest during this season of my life. I pray that you will take comfort also.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009


I've been resting very well the last few nights. :-)
“This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest;
and this is the refreshing” (Isaiah 28:12)

Why dost thou worry thyself? What use can thy fretting serve? Thou art on board a vessel which thou couldst not steer even if the great Captain put thee at the helm, of which thou couldst not so much as reef a sail, yet thou worriest as if thou wert captain and helmsman Oh, be quiet, God is Master!

Dost thou think that all this din and hurly-burly that is abroad betokens that God has left His throne?

No, man, His coursers rush furiously on, and His chariot is the storm; but there is a bit between their jaws, and He holds the reins, and guides them as He wills! Jehovah is Master yet; believe it; peace be unto thee! be not afraid.

— C. H. Spurgeon
(from "Streams in the Desert" - June 1)

Monday, June 01, 2009

who's your Daddy?

Daddy's driving... I can go to sleep!

And I did rest incredibly well last night.

This will make sense to some and others will scratch their heads. If you want to know more, leave a comment. :-) You can also listen here, and I think it will make sense. If you need to you can skip to about the 15:30 mark and 17:00 mark and be blessed!

Friday, May 29, 2009

a little late, but...

yes, this Friday's video is a little late, but we've been enjoying La Jolla, CA and scenery like this all week long.

Friday, May 22, 2009


Great song! Choir - we will do this soon, so take a listen.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

celebrity swine flu fatality

The first celebrity swine flu fatality... and we all know who gave it to him...

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

a shining star

I received this from one of our missionaries this morning. Be blessed, encouraged, and challenged as you read.
A shining star

This morning I read and meditated on Phil. 2:1-18. I encourage you to take some time to read and meditate on this passage. This passage is summarized for me in verse 5: (NIV) - Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus; (ESV) - Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus.

Jesus is our example. He made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant (v. 7).

The Holy Spirit gives me a list of instructions in this passage:
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit (v. 3)
In humility consider others better than yourselves (v. 3)
Look not to your own interests, but also to the interests of others (v.4)
Do everything without complaining or arguing (v. 14)

In verse 12 and 13, I am instructed to "continue to work out my salvation with fear and trembling, for IT IS GOD WHO WORKS in me to will and to act according to HIS good purpose."

I must realize that my attitude (v. 5) either helps or hinders His work in me and through me. Do I allow stinking thinking or God's thoughts to prevail in my life? The choice is mine to make. He will not force it.

The result that He desires is in verses 15 and 16, "so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you SHINE LIKE STARS in the universe as you hold fast to the word of life."

love the "stinking thinking" part!

Friday, May 15, 2009

quite an introduction

another "different" video for you this week!

Saturday, May 09, 2009

ten "can"-mandments

Thought this was clever, so posting it.

1. Instead of thinking, "It will never fly," think, "Through God's strength, it's worth the try!"

2. Replace the thought, "It won't work," with faith that, with God's strength, it will work!

3. When someone says, "It's never been done before," respond by saying, "That means God's giving us the opportunity to be the first."

4. "What if we fail?" What if we fail to try, knowing God says we can do everything through Him who gives us strength?

5. "We don't have the money." Where God guides, he provides so that we can do everything he has called us to do.

6. "We don't have the time!" Perhaps God is telling us to re-evaluate our priorities as we rely upon his direction and strength.

7. "We don't have the expertise." Maybe not, but we can learn as God directs our path.

8. "It's been tried before." But we're wiser now because we know we can do everything when we rely on God's strength instead of our own.

9. If someone says, "There are so many problems with it," respond by saying, "Yet, there are so many possibilities when we're trusting God instead of ourselves."

10. Instead of saying, "It's not working out," say instead, "Let's try it one more time, but this time focused on God and the truth that we can do this through Him who gives us strength."

(copied from Rick Warren - Purpose Driven Connection Daily Devotional)

Friday, May 08, 2009

friday video

just because I love Patti Labelle's voice...

who knew she was a jumpin' jack too?!?!?!

Friday, May 01, 2009

my life is in Your hands

interesting version of this song by Kirk Franklin sung by the Modern Gospel Choir aus Berlin - YES, Berlin!! Check it out.

How about Kirk and the original version from Brazil with the audience singing along in Portuguese?

and if you want to hear the original CD version...

Thursday, April 30, 2009


from my nightly reading from "Streams in the Desert"
April 29
“Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are.”
(James 5:17)

THANK God for that! He got under a juniper tree, as you and I have often done; he complained and murmured, as we have often done; was unbelieving, as we have often been. But that was not the case when he really got into touch with God. Though “a man subject to like passions as we are,” “he prayed praying.” It is sublime in the original—not “earnestly,” but “he prayed in prayer.” He kept on praying. What is the lesson here? You must keep praying.

Come up on the top of Carmel, and see that remarkable parable of Faith and Sight. It was not the descent of the fire that now was necessary, but the descent of the flood; and the man that can command the fire can command the flood by the same means and methods. We are told that he bowed himself to the ground with his face between his knees; that is, shutting out all sights and sounds. He was putting himself in a position where, beneath his mantle, he could neither see nor hear what was going forward.

He said to his servant, “Go and take an observation.” He went and came back, and said—how sublimely brief! one word —“Nothing!”

What do we do under such circumstances?

We say, “It is just as I expected!” and we give up praying. Did Elijah? No, he said, “Go again.” His servant again came back and said, “Nothing!” “Go again.” “Nothing!”

By and by he came back, and said, “There is a little cloud like a man’s hand.” A man’s hand had been raised in supplication, and presently down came the rain; and Ahab had not time to get back to the gate of Samaria with all his fast steeds. This is a parable of Faith and Sight—faith shutting itself up with God; sight taking observations and seeing nothing; faith going
right on, and “praying in prayer,” with utterly hopeless reports from sight.

Do you know how to pray that way, how to pray prevailingly? Let sight give as discouraging reports as it may, but pay no attention to these. The living God is still in the heavens and even to delay is part of His goodness. —Arthur T. Pierson.

Each of three boys gave a definition of faith which is an illustration of the tenacity of faith. The first boy said, “It is taking hold of Christ”; the second, “Keeping hold”; and the third, “Not letting go.”

Friday, April 24, 2009

prayer requests

prayer requests...

got ya!!!

Happy Friday!

Thursday, April 23, 2009


A few great articles from Rick Warren the past 2 days. He calls it "margin", also known as "boundaries" (Townsend & Cloud).

April 22, 2009
Building Margin Into Your Life
by Rick Warren

A lot of people are on overload and headed for a crash. Consider these statistics among U.S. citizens:

• People now sleep 2 1/2 fewer hours each night compared to people from one hundred years ago.

• The average work week is longer now than it was in the 1960s.

• The average office worker has 36 hours of work piled up on his or her desk. It takes three hours a week just to sort through it and find what we need.

• We spend eight months of our lives opening junk mail, two years of our lives playing phone tag with people who are too busy to answer, and five years waiting for people who are trying to do too much and are late for meetings.

We're a piled-on, stretched-to-the limit society; chronically rushed, chronically late, chronically exhausted. Many of us feel like Job did when he said, "I have no peace! I have no quiet! I have no rest! And trouble keeps coming" (Job 3:26 GWT).

Overload comes when we have too much activity in our lives, too much change, too many choices, too much work, too much debt, too much media exposure.

Dr. Richard Swenson says, "The conditions of modern day living devour margin. If you're homeless we direct you to a shelter. If you're penniless we offer you food stamps. If you're breathless we connect you to oxygen. But if you're marginless we give you one more thing to do. Marginless is being thirty minutes late to the doctor's office because you were twenty minutes late getting out of the hairdresser because you were ten minutes late dropping the children off at school because the car ran out of gas two blocks from a gas station and you forgot your purse. That's marginless."

You need margin in your life. When you're not hurrying and worrying all the time, you have time to think. Time to relax. Time to enjoy life. Time to be still and know that God is God (Psalm 46:10).

April 23, 2009
Three Benefits of Margin
by Rick Warren

"One handful of peaceful repose is better than two fistfuls of worried work..." (Ecclesiastes 4:6 MSG).

Margin is the space between your load and your limit. Your load should never be heavier than your limit. But the truth is, most of us are far more overloaded than we can handle; we have no margin for error in our lives.

Dr. Richard Swenson explains, "Marginless is not having time to finish the book you're reading on stress. Margin is having the time to read it twice. Marginless is our culture. Margin is counterculture, having some space in your life and schedule. Marginless is the disease of our decade and margin is the cure."

Here are three immediate benefits you'll receive by building margin into your life:

1. Better health. Unrelenting stress harms our bodies. We all know that, yet we let it continue day after day after day. Many times the only time we get margin in our lives is when the heart attack almost happens (or does happen) or the blood pressure skyrockets. Why do we wait until our health plummets before we make this decision? Why not realize that we need to build some margin into our lives now? The truth is, your body needs downtime in order to heal.

2. Stronger relationships. Lack of margin is one big reason for the collapse of the American family today. When we don't make relationships a priority and make time for each other, our relationships suffer. The truth is relationships take time, and margin provides that time to sit and talk, to listen and enjoy one another, and to provide the comfort we each need.

3. Usefulness in ministry. When you're overloaded by activity, you can only think of yourself. You're in survival mode, just trying to make it through another day. But being available to God for his use makes all the difference in this world.

When you have no margin in your life and God taps you on the shoulder, saying, "I'd like you to do this for Me," your first response isn't joy. Your first response is, "Oh, no! Another thing to do! Sorry, God, I'd like to do that, but I'm just too busy."

We end up resenting the great opportunities God brings into our lives. But when you have margin, you're available for God to use.

You don't have to live on overload. You don't have to live in survival mode. Begin today to build a buffer around your schedule, then enjoy the benefits of margin and see what God does next!

you have been sent...

Each of us has a mission in life. Jesus prays to his Father for his followers, saying: "As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world" (John 17:18).

We seldom realize fully that we are sent to fulfill God-given tasks. We act as if we have to choose how, where, and with whom to live. We act as if we were simply plopped down in creation and have to decide how to entertain ourselves until we die. But we were sent into the world by God, just as Jesus was. Once we start living our lives with that conviction, we will soon know what we were sent to do.

- Henri Nouwen, from "Bread for the Journey"

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

15 Reasons Why First-Time Guests May Not Return

15 Reasons Why First-Time Guests May Not Return
  1. No welcome from the parking lot to the pews.
  2. Finding the right door to sanctuary appeared difficult.
  3. People in the pews held on to their “good seats.”
  4. Too many “churchy insider words” like doxology and introit throughout the worship experience.
  5. No safe, clean nursery for the babies and toddlers.
  6. No sincere greeting extended by pastors or members.
  7. No warmth or hospitality extended.
  8. Missing joy and a spiritual atmosphere.
  9. No sense of family in the church community.
  10. Very limited reaching out to outsiders or strangers.
  11. Very few ministries or activities for youth or children.
  12. Public recognition of guests that left them feeling uncomfortable.
  13. Appears to be no vision or purpose for the congregation.
  14. On Sunday morning, members and ushers seem focused on “member only” conversations.
  15. No one invited them back.

Friday, April 17, 2009

i dreamed a dream...

Okay, you'll have to click here for today's video, but it is well worth it. I stumbled across this Thursday morning while catching up on the latest from google news... and I have to confess it moved me to tears. Very moving performance.

Happy Friday!

If you want the URL, here it is:

Friday, April 10, 2009

Jesus is Alive

love the little balloons pointing out who's who on stage...

a classic Easter song from Hillsong with Ron Kenoly

Friday, April 03, 2009

bring it to the cross

A little different Friday video this week...


Wednesday, April 01, 2009

the simple things... (off topic post)

yes, it's the simple things in life...

my new pencil cup...

actually a stainless steel cutlery caddy (from IKEA), which has been converted into a pencil cup.

alas, upon arrival at home i discovered it was a bit too deep for pencils and pens, but a few layers of marbles and a piece of cardboard did the trick.

off topic? perhaps not, as this was a purely accidental discovery as we shopped for Mel's new desk yesterday. (see serendipity above in blog header)

Friday, March 27, 2009

israel houghton - new CD

Here's an acoustic version of a track from Israel Houghton's new project, The Power of One.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

communion prayer

Prayer I used in our "40 Days of Love" small group last night.
"Prayer with Communion"
by Matt Tullos

The bread of brokenness
The wine of grace
The fellowship of his sufferings
Our hearts long for communion with the One whose glory overshadows every joy, ever fear, every act of contrition and amazement.
The broken bread
The red blood washing away cleansing, rectifying, forgiving, renewing, like rivers of hope
Flooding the arid field of our helplessness
Wash us Jesus
As we move into the about-face of repentance.
We’ve seen a glimpse of your majesty
We’ve experienced you in the furnace of circumstance
And in the bliss of worship
Momentary, ephemeral
But We want so much more
So Lord Jesus
Son of God,
Architect of infinity
Ageless wonder of mercy
Loose your power among us.
Devour us in love
Until we are lost in you.
So lost we can’t even find our identity outside of you!
As we approach these elements- the bread and the cup.
We are saying yes to you.
Yes to everything about you
Yes to your holy purpose
Yes to your Spirit
Yes to the pain it may bring
Yes to the cross
Yes to the consuming fire- the eyes of love
Yes to all that will bring us into your courts of praise
We say yes to the bread and the wine
Which is bigger, wider, stronger, deeper, louder, and longer than anything this broken world could offer.
We want so much more.
As we call for more of you- we hear you calling for more of us.
And such is the element of communion
You in us
Us in You.
May we waste our lives in a reckless pursuit of You.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

dissatisfied with your church?

hmmmm... I wonder how many times I've heard that... or how many times you or I have said or thought it...

here's an interesting quote from in a review of Follow Me: A Spiritual Growth Conversation, by Greg Hawkins and Cally Parkinson (Willow Creek Association, 2008)
"...I remain unconvinced that the right question is, "What's the most important thing you want from your church?" This emphasis on an individual's expectations and preferences reveals a core problem in American Christianity—the unchallenged assumption that people can accurately evaluate their church based on whether or not it meets their needs. How does this prevailing attitude alter the biblical purpose of the Church in the world? We are a culture of Christ-followers who pay far too much attention to whether or not our needs are being satisfied. And we have become a culture of church leaders who spend far too much time orienting our ministries around the ever-changing preferences of our people."

"As we mature in Christ, might the goal be to develop a gut-level instinct to give less attention to what we aren't getting from our church? Perhaps a step on the way to growing more Christ-centered is to accept our dissatisfactions instead of assuming they have to be resolved. Churches that spend too much time alleviating their people's dissatisfactions may be nurturing a self-absorbed attitude of the heart that needs to be nailed to the cross."

Having fought my share of worship wars over the years, and leaders who wanted to shift the church direction and/or worship 'style' based on member preferences, I have to give a hearty "A-men!"

Friday, March 06, 2009

holy (Nichole Nordeman)

One of the best live concerts I've ever been to... years ago when she first "made it"... humble spirit, and genuine... similar to this clip, but only her and a piano - no tracks, nothing, just her and a piano, and it was incredible.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

forgiveness and Romans 12:1

Therefore, I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, because of the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a sacrifice, living and holy and acceptable to God - which is your spiritual worship.
- Romans 12:1 (translation Marva Dawn)

"Though we have blown it, we need not despair. Forgiveness gives us new hope,... sets us apart as holy,... and sets us free to do pleasing things because we already know that we are pleasing to God..."

- Marva Dawn, "Truly the Community"

Friday, February 27, 2009

center of my joy (Richard Smallwood)

Great song from Richard Smallwood. This must be the black gospel version of Bill Gaither's Homecoming videos. Now THESE I'd like to see!! :-)

and then "Journey" from Richard's most recent CD, with Kim Burrell singing the solo. One of the best jazz singers in gospel music!!

and then (totally unrelated) this cool violin solo (trio) cover of Coldplay's "Viva La Vida".

Happy Friday!

Friday, February 20, 2009

always smiling?

I read this several months ago, but for some reason my mind keeps coming back to this, so I thought I'd post it here.
Any study of the life of the apostle Paul requires a serious look at the subject of pain. Suffering is not a pleasant subject to explore, especially in our western culture. Perhaps you heard, as I did growing up, that, “Pain and suffering come from the devil. Since God wants His servants well and free of pain, healing and happiness are of the Lord.” That sounds great. The problem is, it’s neither true nor biblical. The devil is not always the one responsible for the pain and suffering in our lives. You may be surprised to know that there are times when pain comes as part of God’s sovereign plan to prepare us as useful servants. He knows what is best for us in light of what He’s doing in us.


Our theology gets fuzzy here in these United States because of our addiction to the creature comforts. I’m not the first to observe this. Well-known pastor and theologian, Helmut Thielicke, after an extended visit to the States was asked what he believed was the greatest defect among American Christians. His answer: “They have an inadequate view of suffering.” How’s that for insightful?

I smiled as I read John R. W. Stott’s comments on the subject of suffering as he reflected on Romans 8:22—23. First, let’s look at the verses before we consider Stott’s observation.
For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.
Romans 8:22—23
Explaining Paul’s words to the Romans, John Stott writes, “It is not only our fragile body (s_ma) which makes me groan; it is also our fallen nature (sarx), which hinders us from behaving as we should, and would altogether prevent us from it, were it not for the indwelling Spirit (7:17,20). We long, therefore, for our sarx to be destroyed and for our s_ma to be transformed. Our groans express both present pain and future longing. Some Christians, however, grin too much (they seem to have no place in their theology for pain) and groan too little.

The man has grown weary of the perpetual Christian grin—frankly, so have I. If you groan and allow your countenance to reflect any measure of inner turmoil, people frown at you judgmentally, as if to suggest you’re not walking in the Spirit. Don’t get me wrong. I find nothing offensive about Christians laughing. I wrote an entire book affirming that God’s people need to laugh more. Laughter demonstrates authenticity in our lives. I simply believe there’s no need to glue a permanent Cheshire grin to our faces, lest we look like we’re not living a victorious Christian life. If a fellow believer tells you he’s going through a particularly tough time, I urge you not to insist he smile. (I tell the folks at the church not to ask me to listen to one of my tapes on joy when they notice I’m feeling down.) Don’t urge people to sing along with you on some tune you think they should be singing. Sometimes we just don’t feel like singing or smiling. Matter of fact, there are times it’s hypocritical to paste a smile on your face.

Folks who know me well know I don’t linger very long in the doldrums—rarely do I slip into extended periods of depression. I’m not melancholy by nature. But frankly, I find some days pretty close to tragic (September 11, 2001, comes to mind). There are days when my heart feels so heavy I dread preaching, or writing, or doing anything else related to the work of the ministry. Those are the days I don’t grin. Yet regardless of how I feel, my responsibility is to communicate the truth—even when that truth is hard to deliver and even harder to receive. So I’ve not written these words necessarily to comfort you. That’s God’s work, ultimately.

My desire is to help equip you for what life will inevitably sling across your path. I understand you may be bearing a burden or heartache the likes of which I’ve never known. You may be living with pressures or some debilitating physical disease or emotional pain I couldn’t even begin to imagine. In almost four decades of pastoral ministry, I’ve often seen the evidence of inner turmoil surface on the faces of God’s people. It is in those times, when I feel at a loss to offer encouragement, that I am most thankful for the Scriptures. In God’s Word we not only discover His will for our lives, we find words of genuine comfort for those times when life comes unglued.

All this brings us back to Saul of Tarsus. A day rarely passed in his Christian life when he didn’t face intense pain, suffering, and/or pressure — almost all of which were related to the harshness of life and the hardships of ministry. Thankfully, he doesn’t keep those experiences to himself. He bares his soul and lets the unedited truth flow.

- Charles Swindoll, “Paul”, p.91-93
He goes on in "Paul" to address the thorn in the flesh... maybe some posts/quotes on that at a later date!

blessed assurance (Aretha)

Old school this Friday! Aretha Franklin sings Blessed Assurance. Now this is the way it should be sung!!

Monday, February 16, 2009

comedy and absurdity

"The wings of the ostrich flap joyfully." (Job 39:13)
Even in the best of times our world can appear, on the surface, chaotic and absurd. But comedy takes this very absurdity and puts it to work. In classical literature the device of absurdity was used to reflect the natural limitations of the human mind. Since the reality of life itself is always bigger than the mind is able to assimilate, our view of any given event is bound to be somewhat absurd. In the literature of the twentieth century, however, this truth came to be turned upside-down. To modern writers the device of absurdity usually reflects the essential meaninglessness (as they see it) of life. But this is not at all the case with Job or with any of the other great literature of antiquity. Classically, it is not life that is absurd, but ourselves. If reality seems meaningless to us, it is because we are not dealing with a full deck. (emphasis mine - DT)

In His response to Job the Lord does not supply any of the missing cards. All He does is to say, in effect, “Here is the deck; learn to play with it. Learn to live without knowing everything. What does it matter whether I give you great wisdom or only a little? Compared to all there is to know, it is still only a pittance, and therefore many things are going to strike you as preposterous or even insane. So get used to it. Get used to My absurdity, and live by faith rather than by sight. Be like the ostrich: though you cannot fly, you can still flap your wings joyfully!
- Mike Mason, The Gospel According to Job, p.404

Sunday, February 15, 2009

a waste of time

To worship the Lord is — in the world’s eyes — a waste of time. It is, indeed, a royal waste of time, but a waste nonetheless. By engaging in it, we don’t accomplish anything useful in our society’s terms.

Worship ought not to be construed in a utilitarian way. Its purpose is not to gain numbers nor for our churches to be seen as successful. Rather, the entire reason for our worship is that God deserves it. Moreover, it isn’t even useful for earning points with God, for what we do in worship won’t change one whit how God feels about us. We will always still be helpless sinners caught in our endless inability to be what we should be or to make ourselves better — and God will always still be merciful, compassionate, and gracious, abounding in steadfast love and ready to forgive us as we come to him.

Worship is a royal waste of time, but indeed it is royal, for it immerses us in the regal splendor of the King of the cosmos. The churches’ worship provides opportunities for us to enjoy God’s presence in corporate ways that take us out of time and into the eternal purposes of God’s kingdom. As a result, we shall be changed - but not because of anything we do. God, on whom we are centered and to whom we submit, will transform us by his Revelation of himself.

To understand worship as a royal waste of time is good for us because that frees us to enter into the poverty of Christ. We worship a triune God who chose to rescue the world he created by means of the way of humility. God sent his Son into the world to empty himself in the obedience of a slave, humbling himself to suffer throughout his entire life and to die the worst of deaths on our behalf. He did not come to be “solving the world’s problems in any sense that the world could understand,” as Simon Tugwell puts it. Worship of such a God immerses us in such a way of life, empowered by a Spirit who does not equip us with means of power or control, accomplishment or success, but with the ability and humility to waste time in love of the neighbor.
- Marva Dawn, A Royal "Waste" of Time, p.1-2

Saturday, February 14, 2009

going to church?

What a sad commentary it is on our spirituality that the delight of “keeping the Sabbath day” has degenerated into the routine and drudgery — even the downright oppressiveness — of “going to church.”

In the first place, how we talk affects how we live. To say “I am going to church” both reveals and promotes bad theology. In the earliest days of Christianity, “the church” was a living and vibrant gathering of God’s people, who met together to be strengthened and then went out into the world to manifest the gospel in their actions and their very beings. Now the church has become a static place.. . . We are NOT “going to church”! We are going to a sanctuary to participate in an order of worship together with other people of God gathered in community to be nourished by all that we do there together so that we can go out into the world and be church.

In the second place, the act of worship is only one small part (though an essential one) of the whole meaning of Sabbath keeping. To “keep the Sabbath holy” means to recognize that the rhythm of six days of work and one day of ceasing work is written into the very core of our beings. To observe that order week by week creates in us a wholeness that is possible only when we live in accordance with this pattern of being graciously commanded by God....

To keep the Sabbath is not a legalistic duty. Rather, living in accordance with our own natural rhythm gives freedom, the delight of one whole day in every seven set apart as holy.

In Jewish tradition the Sabbath is loved as a bride or a queen. Deep in our beings there is a longing for completion.... Only holy time, in which we experience the presence of God, can fill our emptiness.

- Marva Dawn, Keeping the Sabbath Holy, pp.x-xv,2

Friday, February 13, 2009

amazing grace (The Clark Sisters)

Amazing Grace sung by The Clark Sisters. Amazing! Enough said!

Friday, February 06, 2009

good in da hood

Something a little "lighter" this week. :-)

Follow the link for this Friday's Video.

Click on the "watch in high quality" link at the lower right corner of the video for best quality.

This is one of our family's favorite songs from the "Stand Out" project.
Check out other Tye Tribbett & G.A. music and videos. They're awesome!!

Thursday, February 05, 2009

unconditional love (Nouwen)

God's Unconditional Love

What can we say about God's love? We can say that God's love is unconditional. God does not say, "I love you, if ..." There are no ifs in God's heart. God's love for us does not depend on what we do or say, on our looks or intelligence, on our success or popularity. God's love for us existed before we were born and will exist after we have died. God's love is from eternity to eternity and is not bound to any time-related events or circumstances. Does that mean that God does not care what we do or say? No, because God's love wouldn't be real if God didn't care. To love without condition does not mean to love without concern. God desires to enter into relationship with us and wants us to love God in return.

Let's dare to enter into an intimate relationship with God without fear, trusting that we will receive love and always more love.
from Henri J.M. Nouwen's Bread for the Journey.