Saturday, January 16, 2016

Um, no

I believe in joyous worship. But this seems a bit more self-referential than God-reverential. (See what I did there?)

I'm also unfamiliar with the peek-a-boo maneuver at about 1:05. (If you can get that far.)



LITURGICAL DANCING?????????THE SPIRIT OF VATICAN 2
Posted by NOVUS ORDO Insider on Sunday, November 15, 2015



Friday, January 15, 2016

Campaign songs; prepare to be...well...

...revolted. That was my reaction when I first saw this Donald Trump campaign song.



Although the tone of that peculiar version of the George M. Cohan classic is a bit aggressive, kitschy campaign songs are nothing new.

Does anyone remember this adoring, bordering on the idolatrous, campaign song in anticipation of Hillary Clinton's 2008 run for the presidency? I like to think that this schlock is part of why she didn't get the nomination.



You don't associate "kitsch" with the amazing voice or work of Frank Sinatra. But in the 1960 campaign, Senator John F. Kennedy and Kennedy's then-brother-in-law Peter Lawford roped Sinatra into singing lyrics extolling Kennedy's candidacy for president. It was set to the tune of one of the Chairman of the Board's hit songs. It's an unfortunate misuse of Sinatra's talents.



Sinatra later became disenchanted with JFK.

In 1952, the Eisenhower campaign ran this TV commercial for the former general's presidential bid. When you watch it, you remember that back in those days and even into the 60s, commercials always ran sixty-seconds, which now seems interminable.




Prepare to be stunned...

...and laugh out loud with this fantastic Classical Music Mashup.

I love New York

I don't care about the politics of this exchange...I don't get into endorsing or bashing candidates. But I dislike the dismissal of New York City and its people, implying that anyone who lives in New York isn't patriotic.

New York is the cultural and financial capital of the United States. It's the place where, under George Washington, while he was president and New York served as the nation's political capital, Alexander Hamilton created this country's economic and financial system, the most enduring and strong engine for prosperity in the history of the world. On its streets, the world's greatest sport, baseball, was invented and refined. Baseball is about as American as it gets!

And, it was the patriotism, resilience, and courage of New Yorkers that inspired the rest of America after September 11, 2001.

I'm a lifelong Ohioan. I love New York.




Thursday, January 14, 2016

Hope Beyond the Sorrow

[This was shared earlier this evening during a funeral in honor of Clem, a member of Living Water Lutheran Church, a World War Two veteran and Pearl Harbor survivor.]

Last night, I was told, “You know, it’s quite an honor for you to be able to do Clem’s funeral.” It is. The members of the greatest generation are quickly leaving us. This is the third funeral for a veteran of World War Two over which I’ve presided in the past year. There have been others through the years.

In spite of the unique attributes of a generation to whom we owe so much, people who weathered the Great Depression and endured the greatest war in human history, every member of that generation is unique, each with their own special life stories, their own achievements beyond the horrors of the war, loved ones and friends who, after they have passed, miss them for who they were after the war was over.

Although Clem was in worship every Sunday, I never got to know him very well in the two-plus years I’ve been his pastor. (I do cherish the particular Sunday when he, moving beyond the usual good morning greetings, thumped me on the back and said, “You’re doing a great job!”) Clem’s age and circumstances by the time I arrived though, made really getting to know him difficult. But from other people who knew and loved Clem, I got to know some things about him. When Carol and I met on Tuesday, I learned even more.

To me, one of the most remarkable things I’ve gleaned from Clem’s life and from that of his wife, Joanne, is just how resilient they were. Even beyond World War Two, they both had tough lives. And yet, by all accounts, they emerged in adulthood as productive, caring, loving people who raised their family, started a successful business, enjoyed the company of friends, worshiped God, and, in the case of Clem, avidly golfed and fished.

There are people who don’t understand what it’s like to grieve the loss of a father, grandfather, and friend who’s lived 94 years. They think that somehow there’s less grief or sadness. They don't understand that while loved ones and friends may be grateful that someone like Clem lived a long life and was blessed with a peaceful passing, there is still sadness and grief at the loss of one who loved and was loved well, who was such a presence in the life of his family and circle of friends. Let no one make you feel guilty because you grieve at Clem’s passing. It would be strange for you not to grieve.

But there is hope!

And that hope which comes from Jesus Christ, the Lord in whom Clem believed, means that even in the midst of grief, you can have hope and joy. The apostle Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14 in the New Testament: “Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.”

There is a different quality to the grieving of those who grieve for one who has trusted in Jesus Christ.


Clem is today, at this moment, experiencing life with God. He’s fully alive and in the presence of God, along with all the saints who have gone before us, including Joanne. He’s no longer afflicted by the ravages of time nor of dementia. He is restored fully in an eternity in which Christ, the Lord Who has died as the perfect sacrifice for our sins and risen so that all who turn from sin and surrender their lives to Him have life with God, “will wipe every tear from their eyes. [And with whom] There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.

Clem is experiencing Christ’s new creation in its fullness.

But this hope isn’t just for those who have died. The Bible teaches that “...if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come. The old has gone, the new is here!”

The new life of Christ, a life filled with God’s guidance, wisdom, and the power
to live this life with love, resilience, compassion, and toughness, lives in all who turn from sin and believe in Christ.

We don’t have to earn eternal life, only receive Christ and let Him reign as God and King over our lives.

We don’t have to be good enough, only trust in Christ Who has been more than good enough and will share His goodness with us.

I wish that I had known Clem well and I’m a bit jealous of all of you who did know him.

But I know this: God wants to give all of us an eternity to get to know special people like Clem, to live and love, work and worship side by side with them, as God fills us with His ever new and ever-renewing life.

Today, you grieve your loss.

But in the midst of your grief, I also commend to you the only One Who can give you life, hope, salvation, and joy in the midst of grief and beyond, Jesus Christ. Amen



Jettisoning the "little things" to live


For my morning Quiet Time, I spent a second day with Jesus in Mark 10.

Mark 10:21 drew my attention today. In response to the man looking for eternal life with God, Jesus said that despite the man's apparent obedience to God's moral law, as embodied in the Ten Commandments, there was yet something he lacked.
Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
Jesus isn't here condemning wealth. But having looked and actually seen the man and loving him, Jesus identifies the major obstruction between the man and the life with God he desires. The man's wealth is his god.

And the thing he lacked was an authentic relationship with God that goes beyond obeying rules. We are only saved for life with God by faith in Christ.

No matter how "successful" we are in avoiding violations of the second table of the commandments--"Honor your father and your mother," "You shall not kill," "You shall not commit adultery," "You shall not steal," "You shall not bear false witness," "You shall not covet"--if there is anything that we worship other than the one true God revealed first to Israel and then definitively to all the world in Christ, we violate all of God's moral law, including the first table, which addresses our relationship with God (i.e., "You shall have no other gods," "You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain," "Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy").

As James puts it in the New Testament: "...
whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it" (James 2:10). 

I couldn't help thinking about what it is that I turn to for life rather than to God alone.

I realize(d) that I too am guilty of idolatries that Christ is telling me I must leave behind.

To follow Christ, to have eternal life, to be a whole person, to experience grace freely offered and freely given, I must let go of those things--almost all of them good things--that keep me from having life with God.

This is no wifty philosophical matter. This is life and death.

It involves giving up things that are harmless on their face. Little things.

But the road to hell is paved by little things--little compromises, little obsessions that worm their ways into the centers of our souls and destroy the new Christ-like Adams and Eves got wants to make of us.

The wealthy man may have avoided all manner of immorality, been in worship regularly, given to the poor, taken care of his family. (They say that Hitler never smoked or drank.) But Jesus could see that in the inner recesses of his soul, the thing that gave the man his version of life...even though "you can't take it with you." Wealth was the god that he lived for.

It was also the thing he was evidently willing to die for. After Jesus told the man to sell everything he had, give the proceeds to the poor--divesting himself of his god, and follow Jesus: "...
the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth" (Mark 10:22). He preferred dying counting his cash rather than living with God.

It's one of the saddest verses in Scripture.

But rather than tsk-ing over this man, I needed and need to ask myself: What must I jettison in order to walk with Christ?

Such divesting is never easy. And, this side of the grave, I think that a person never loses the attraction to their particular god or gods. (Think of Gollum in Lord of the Rings.) 


This is where prayer and the fellowship of the Church comes in. Prayer in the name of Jesus is the most powerful form of communication in the universe. The name of Jesus represents all the power and authority of God. When we take refuge in Him, sometimes by even saying His name with faith, He will give us shelter. He will save us. He will give us life.

The Church is the fellowship of recovering sinners and hypocrites. We turn to the Church, our fellow believers, not because we're perfect or sinless, but because we're imperfect and sinful. Whether through worship, receiving the Sacraments, community Bible study and prayer, or private conversation with more mature believers, God can give us the strength to divest ourselves of our idols and to hold onto Christ.

I know what I have to leave behind, but what is that you need to be set free from in order to follow Christ?

Pray in Christ's name.

Humbly join the community of faith, the Church, in confessing sin, receiving forgiveness, and being empowered by the Holy Spirit to live.



'Sports Illustrated' football writer Peter King's letter to NFL players

Read the whole thing.


Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Amid the Disgrace

There was this...


I don't follow the NFL. Or the NBA, for that matter. I prefer the college versions of football and basketball.

But because the Bengals are in Cincy, where I lived for seventeen years, and because people around here are pretty much equally divided in their loyalties between the Bengals and the Steelers, I tuned into the last part of the fourth quarter.

It's sad that A.J. McCarron's leadership of an amazing fourth quarter comeback by Cincinnati was both marred and wasted by what happened shortly after I tuned in.

Nonetheless, the image of opposing players praying together to God after that madhouse, is encouraging.

Bowie and Mercury Vocals on 'Under Pressure' Isolated

Nerdist linked today to this recording of David Bowie's and Freddie Mercury's vocals on the joint Bowie-Queen project, Under Pressure, from 1981.

In light of Bowie's death on Sunday, hearing the two late rockers without accompaniment is haunting.

The unadorned track and vocal adventurousness also underscore their talent and their artistic sensibilities.

Under Pressure is such a wonderfully weird song. Below the vocal isolation recording is the song as released, complete with the piano and bass riffs that Vanilla Ice ripped off several years later. (And I refuse to link to any video of that track.)





Strange Motions by Andy Mineo

Rapper Andy Mineo channels his inner-Pink Floyd on this track featuring Willow Stephens.




Breathe easy, God isn't disappointed in you

I urge you to read this piece written for Relevant magazine by Jade Mazarin. It's directed to all earnest Christians who beat themselves up for being less than perfect and feel that God must be constantly disappointed in them.

I love this:
If Christ has truly taken our sins, then clenching on to them is not what pleases God. When we feel we need to punish ourselves, we are actually devaluing Jesus' sacrifice—even exalting our perceived ability to redeem ourselves or finish His atonement.
This is so insightful. There is a subtle egotism involved in holding onto our sins after we have confessed them to God in the name of Christ and received His absolution. It's as if we're saying, "Christ died and rose to bring reconciliation between everybody else and God. But my sins are too big, complicated, and awful to be forgiven."

Then this:
God does not identify us by our sins. It’s almost as if He sees things the other way around—while we might magnify our mistakes, God magnifies the beauty given to us. He is not intimidated by our weaknesses, like we so often are. He sees their power as already dissolved by the cross. 
When we feel guilty and perceive God as sternly pointing out our faults, perhaps we can recognize it is really just our own voices or the enemy's. We can choose instead, to listen to His quieter voice that tenderly repeats, “There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ.” (Romans 8:1). We can recognize that God is a God of deep compassion.
I've told the story many times about the nursing home resident who would always join the worship services conducted by my internship supervisor and me, but would never receive Holy Communion. 

When we asked why, she always told us that she was unworthy, that God could never forgive her for a sin that she committed when she was seventeen years old. Nothing we could say changed her mind. 

Guilt and shame are two different things. 

Guilt is good. It's God'a alarm bell going off in our consciences telling us to back away from sin, to repent, and to have our relationship with God restored. Guilt is about the things we do.

Shame is bad. It's the instrument either of our egotism or of the devil trying to rob us of the peace of God that passes all understanding made available to all who surrender their past sins, their present realities, and their eternal futures to Christ. Shame tells us that, no matter what Christ accomplished from the cross or empty tomb, we are unforgivable, deficient, irredeemable. Where is guilt is about what we do from our fallen natures, shame tells us that our fallenness must be our eternal natures and that even God can't save us.

Guilt is truth. Shame is a lie, straight from the pit of hell. Jesus once described Satan as "the father of lies." Don't believe the liar!

Instead, believe and surrender to the one who describes Himself as "the way and the truth and the life." No one can know the Father except through surrender to Christ. (John 14:6)

As we daily surrender to Christ, we can know that despite our deficiencies and our presently sinful natures and the sins to which they lead, we are loved, we are saved from sin and death, and we belong to the God of all creation Who loves us totally, passionately, compassionately.

Sometimes, Christians can feel like "marked" men and women, people with whom God is so disappointed and frustrated, that nothing we can do can renew our relationship with God again. 

Do you remember God's conversation with Cain, the son of Adam and Eve, after Cain had murdered his brother? God decided to make Cain a wanderer without a home through all his time on earth. (Sin can be forgiven, but sometimes there are consequences.) Cain thought that he was a marked man: “My punishment is more than I can bear. Today you are driving me from the land, and I will be hidden from your presence; I will be a restless wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.” (Genesis 4:13-14)

Instead, God said, He would make Cain a "marked man" in a different way: [God told Cain] "'...anyone who kills Cain will suffer vengeance seven times over.' Then the Lord put a mark on Cain so that no one who found him would kill him.'" (Genesis 4:15) 

God met Cain's guilt and fear with forgiveness and grace. He marked Cain to live in spite of his sin.

When many of us were baptized, the pastor made the sign cross on our foreheads and said, "...child of God, you have been sealed by the Holy Spirit and marked with the cross of Christ forever." 



Every time the Christian saved through Baptism (1 Peter 3:21), comes to God to confess sin, the old sinful self is drowned and the new self rises to live, made new by Christ. Christ absolves us of our guilt, so that we need never be downed by shame. You are marked...by grace!



As Mazarin so beautifully says, "God isn't disappointed in you." 

Breathe easy.


Tuesday, January 12, 2016

"...one of the most segregated hours...in America"

Martin Luther King, Jr.'s observation about 11:00am on Sunday mornings, when Christians of different colors worship the same God revealed in Jesus Christ, is about as true today as the day he first made this observation. It was on April 17, 1960, Easter Sunday, on NBC's Meet the Press that King made this famous pronouncement.*



The reasons for this persistent segregation are many: the momentum of history, the locations where worship happens (often influenced, even mandated, by race), differences in comfort zones, and, yes, sometimes, racism.

But I pray that one day Christian congregations will mirror heaven and the words of a song many of us learned as children in Sunday School:
Jesus loves the little children
All the children of the world
Red and yellow, black and white,
All are precious in His sight
Jesus loves the little children of the world!
Even now, Lord Jesus, "Thy kingdom com, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." Amen

*The day was also the birthdate of one of my kid sisters.

Now I Know by Andy Mineo

Mineo's latest, Uncomforable, is great. This is a track from it.

She's Got a Way by Billy Joel

Lunchtime music.


"She's got a smile that heals me
"I don't know what it is
"But I have to laugh when she reveals me
"She's got a way about her
"I don't know what it is
"But I know that I can't live without her
"Anyway." 

Epiphany: Stop, Look, Listen, Respond

[This was shared with the people and friends of Living Water Lutheran Church during worship services on January 10, 2016. Though Epiphany, the Twelfth Day of Christmas, is always on January 6, we commemorated January 10 as Sunday of the Epiphany, so that we could celebrate the day together during Sunday worship.]

Matthew 2:1-12

Once, the pastor of our home church in Columbus told the story of how he became a follower of Jesus Christ. He came from a non-churchgoing family. He’d never been in a church building until, when he was a boy, he heard that there was going to be a magic show in the fellowship hall of the local Lutheran congregation. Curious, he went. Apparently, the magician talked about faith in Christ as he did his act. Our future pastor came for the magic. But he stayed for the Savior.

His experience relates to today’s Gospel lesson is several ways.

We call the visitors who brought gifts to the baby Jesus in our Gospel lesson wise men. We also sometimes call them kings. And while there’s nothing terrible about those designations, they’re really not accurate.

The original Greek of the New Testament calls them
magi. We get our word magic from the term.

The magi were, to put it bluntly, first century versions of palm readers or fortune tellers. Only they had credibility. They enjoyed a high status in places the New Testament called “the East”—they probably were from countries that set in what is modern day Iran or Iraq. They often served as the powerful advisers to kings.

But God’s people, the Jews, took a dim view of people like the magi. That's because God is clear in His Word that things like horoscopes and consulting with fortune-tellers is wrong. God’s people were (and are) to rely on God and His Word alone.

The magi though, thought that events in the heavens bore a relationship to events on earth. When they saw a light that may have been the conjoining of Jupiter and Saturn or, according to a new and interesting theory, maybe a comet, they were certain that something major was up. Probably unschooled in the prophecies of a Savior Who would be more than the king of the Jews, but also the Savior of the whole human race, they went to Herod. In 40BC, Herod the Great had been declared to be King of the Jews by the Roman Empire, though Herod himself wasn't really a Jew. The magi may have thought that a baby had been born into Herod's royal household.

Instead, Herod’s household and servants--and Jerusalem--were thrown into an uproar, a fact that they tried to conceal from the visitors from the East.

Scholars and theologians were consulted and the magi were told that the Old Testament prophecy from Micah had said that a king of the Jews, the Messiah, was to be born in a tiny village about five miles from Jerusalem, the hometown of Israel’s first king, David. The place was called Bethlehem.

That’s all the magi needed to know. They left the king and found the baby living in a house in Bethlehem. There, we’re told, they worshiped Jesus.

Think of it: The first people to worship Jesus were Gentiles, non-Jews.

Just as the angels’ announcement to the shepherds on the night of Jesus’ birth signaled that the Messiah had come for the humble and lowly of heart, God’s guidance of the magi to the house of the baby Jesus was God’s signal God loves all people and it’s God’s desire that all people should come to worship and follow Jesus and have eternal life with God.

Like our home pastor who had been attracted by a magic show and instead found the Lord of his life, the Magi had been attracted by what they thought was the portent of a birth in the Judean equivalent of Buckingham Palace. Instead, in a humble home in a tiny town, they found the God of all creation, come to save the world from sin and death!

You never can tell what might attract people who have never had anything to do with God before to come and worship Him! The unlikeliest things can be attracted to follow the Savior. And magic shows and stars aren’t the only things that can attract people to Christ. Sometimes other people--siblings, parents, friends, classmates, co-workers, even husbands and wives--can attract others to Christ!

Today we celebrate the Epiphany, the day that God used a star to guide people who didn’t even know God to Jesus Christ, the Light of the world.

The word
epiphany is what’s called a transliteration of a Greek word, epiphane. It literally means shine upon. It carries the meaning of making something clear, of manifesting something. In other grammatical forms, the word can mean to see glory.

On the first Epiphany, a bright star shone upon the magi. But having received clarification from the Word of God in Jerusalem, they understood that they were doing more than following a star. The Savior of the world, the One Who gives the gift of new and everlasting life to all who repent, or turn from their sin, and believe in Jesus Christ, was made clear to them. Jesus was the brightest light the magi saw that day at Bethlehem!

Some three decades after the Magi visited the baby Jesus, after Jesus died and rose from the dead and spent forty days instructing His disciples, it was time for Him to ascend to heaven. But before He did, Jesus gave one last bit of instruction to His followers, including me and you. “As you go through your lives,” Jesus said, “make disciples of all peoples, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” This is often called the Great Commission.

You and I are called to be stars who shine the light of Christ’s Gospel into the lives of others. You and I are called to make Gospel clear to others, so that they can see the goodness and the greatness of the Lord Who was born among us, died for us, and rose for us to give us life with God forever. In short, God has called us to be something that is a bad word to some people, witnesses for Christ!

We’re to let others see Jesus Christ.

We’re to invite our friends to know Jesus.

We are, when asked, to share what God has revealed to us in His Word, the salvation that comes in Christ alone.

We are to make disciples.

I know how hard being a witness can be. But I also know that it can be done. I am here this morning because people dared to witness for Christ to me.

And when we dare to be witnesses, God can do amazing things. This past week, I was talking with Dennis. He showed me some texts and pictures he received from a pastor in Haiti. The pastor indicated that his church was hosting a women's conference. The picture showed that the event was packed and that not just women were present. The women had invited male family members to attend as well.

The next day, the Haitian pastor texted that there had been three-hundred present, including males and females and people of all ages.

The next day he reported that the previous day's meeting had brought four-hundred to the event. This time, the youth of the congregation had gone door-to-door in the village to invite people to come. That night, eight people gave their lives to Jesus Christ!

I know that in our rich American culture, we have more distractions to entertain us and keep us from interacting with others or thinking about God. According to a 2014 study cited by the New York Daily News, the average time spent watching TV by Americans each day is five hours. And that doesn't count the time spent on Snapchat, Instagram, Genius, Twitter, or Facebook. It can be tough to reach people whose only accessibility is of the cyber-variety.

But witnessing is also hard for us. Often we lack the confidence to witness for Christ.

What if someone asks me a question I can’t answer?

What if my friend or family member will be offended and dismiss me as a nut?


It’s always possible that followers of Christ will be dismissed as nuts, of course. After all, if Jesus Himself was crucified, we can probably expect to sometimes be misunderstood or dismissed.

But when you know that you belong to the King of the world, you have every reason to be confident. And the better you know Him, the more confident you will be.


But how can we be confident? How can we be the means by which others come to follow Jesus?

As we prepare to begin the second phase of establishing a discipleship culture at Living Water, under the coaching of Navigators, there is a group of people who make up here in the congregation known as the Life and Learning Team. One tool that we’ve learned about and are now using is something called
Quiet Time. Quiet Time is a means we can use to cultivate closeness to and gain confidence in witnessing for Christ.

Quiet Time is summarized in four words: stop, look, listen, respond.

Here’s how it works. Five days a week (you can take two days a week off)--for most people usually the first thing in the morning, though others may find other parts of their days more conducive--close the door, turn off the cell phone, move away from the laptop, shut off the dumb box, get rid of distractions.

Then stop!
Come into the Lord's presence. Ask God, “Lord, where is my heart today?” Simply take the time to appreciate being in the presence of the God Who made you and loves you beyond all telling.

Next look into God’s Word. I suggest reading just one chapter of the New Testament each day and working through the New Testament as the year progresses. If you only get through part of a chapter when God gets your attention, that's great. Then, focus on the one verse in the chapter that strikes you most. As you do so, the Navigators teach us, you should ask God, “Lord, what new truth do you want me to discover from Your Word today?” This is not a request for head knowledge. You’re asking God to speak His truth to you through His Word. Since God’s Word is inspired by the Holy Spirit, this can happen often.

After you've stopped and looked, next listen. We remain silent before God and ask Him, “Lord, what is Your thought for me today?” Don’t be afraid to be silent for a while. It sometimes takes a time for God’s message to get through the noise and distractions of our lives.

Finally, respond. Responding to what God has told us may mean offering up a prayer of repentance. Or, asking for guidance for a particular issue that God’s truth has surfaced in your mind. Or, it may mean deciding on an action step in line with the truth God teaches you.

A few months ago during my Quiet Time, God convicted me for failing to respond to the needs of people I met while walking down a North High Street in the Short North of Columbus before a concert. Several people, maybe homeless, certainly impoverished, asked me for money.

In my mind, I thought, “They probably want to use it for drugs or alcohol or cigarettes.” But the truth is that I was making rationalizations because  I didn’t to bother with people for whom Jesus Christ died and rose!

Jesus’ words from Matthew 25:40 rattled my conscience: “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

“Lord,” I prayed during my Quiet Time, “how can I respond to the truth You’ve put before me today?”

In my spirit, God seemed to suggest that I buy gift cards from a fast food restaurant so that the next time I was tempted to  pass an imploring person on a city street or freeway off-ramp, I could hand them a gift card. I responded by buying four cards shortly thereafter. I keep a stash with me all the time.

The magi followed a star, looking for an earthly king and instead, found God come to earth as a baby. When we spend quiet time with God each day--when we stop, look, listen, and respond, we will know the Lord better. We will gain confidence in our faith. And we can be the stars shining in a darkened world, guiding people to Christ. God needs us to be confident witnesses for Christ now more than ever. Amen



Monday, January 11, 2016

David Bowie is Dead



The announcement of David Bowie's death has hit me hard. I wasn't a Bowie fanatic. But I loved his music, his theatrical sensibilities, and his propensity for chameleon-like changes and the commitment to growth it represented. Bowie never aroused passion the way Dylan or U2 have, at least not in me. But in his death, we have lost a giant.


Sunday, January 10, 2016

Just arrived...

...today, two CDs: TobyMac's latest, This is Not a Test and Andy Mineo's Uncomfortable. Can't wait to listen.

Just arrived a few days ago, some new books: How We Got the Bible by Timothy Paul Jones and Formation of the Bible by Lee Martin McDonald. (Are you detecting a pattern?)