Thursday, December 31, 2009

Where did you get your ears?

Where did you get your ears? In other words, where were the churches and who were the preachers who affected the way you listen to sermons?

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Book Review - 'The Bauhaus Group - Six Masters of Modernism,' by Nicholas Fox Weber - Review -

Book Review - 'The Bauhaus Group - Six Masters of Modernism,' by Nicholas Fox Weber - Review -

One of my favorite trips while living in Wittenberg was down to Dessau to see the Bauhaus museum and school.

New Year's/Decade's Resolutions


1. Post weekly re: Book of Concord: The original idea behind Lutheran Confessions was to post commentary on the Lutheran confessional documents. I'm going to try and return to that practice.
2. Pray the Daily Prayer Office, with special focus on Psalms
3. Listen better
4. Participate in the resettlement of a refugee family


1. Intentional weekly study of Greek, be able to recognize vocabulary down to about 20 word occurrences in the NT; improve parsing and syntax.
2. Write three books
3. Raise happy and healthy children, and continue to develop a thriving marriage.
4. Serve as a pastor in a way that helps the congregation grow as disciples of Jesus--bring together efforts in prayer and evangelism so that more unchurched and de-churched will come to know Christ.
5. Finish my doctor of ministry at Fuller

This is my working draft, I may edit or change as I move along, but thought I might as well be ambitious and forward thinking. What are your resolutions/goals?

Fifteen Musical New Year's Resolutions for 2010 :: Blogs :: List of the Day :: Paste

Fifteen Musical New Year's Resolutions for 2010 :: Blogs :: List of the Day :: Paste

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Driven to Distraction, Some Teenagers Defriend Facebook -

Driven to Distraction, Some Teenagers Defriend Facebook -

Best Books of 2009

It's really hard to narrow down to just 10 or 20 best books for any given year, because I don't exclusively read books published in that year and I read in a lot of different genres, but here's an attempt, not at the best books of 2009, but the best books I read in 2009. These are in no particular order:

1. Susan Scott, Fierce Conversations
2. China MiƩville, The City and the City (as an audiobook)
3. The Last Theorem, Arthur C. Clarke (as an audiobook)
4. Wondrous Depth: Preaching the Old Testament, by Ellen Davis
5. Driftless, David Rhodes
6. The Life of Messiaen, Christopher Dingle
7. Breathing Space: A Spiritual Journey in the South Bronx, Heidi Neumark
8. Reason, Faith, and Revolution: Reflections on the God Debate, Terry Eagleton
9. Dostoevsky: Language, Faith and Fiction, Rowan Williams
10. Surprised by Hope, N.T. Wright
11. Zeitoun, Dave Eggers
12. Anathem, Neal Stephenson
13. Lutheran Study Bible
14. Colossians Remixed, Brian Walsh and Sylvia Keesmat
15. The Bible and Mission, Richard Bauckham
16. Conversations with Barth on Preaching, Will Willimon
17. The Worldly Philosophers: The Lives, Times, and Ideas of the Great Economic Thinkers, Robert L. Heilbroner
18. Paul Krugman, The Return of Depression Economics and the Crisis of 2008
19. Till We Have Faces, C.S. Lewis
20. Indignation, Philip Roth
21. Preaching and Theology, James Kay

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Antiphons of Advent

The Antiphons of Advent



Lutherans and Immigration

I'd like to invite you to join me in study on a topic I care about deeply. Tuesdays in January, from 6:30 to 8 p.m., we'll gather together to discuss the book They Are Us: Lutherans and Immigration. This book was written by Ralston Deffenbaugh, the president of Lutheran and Immigration and Refugee Service, and Stephen Bouman, director of Evangelical Outreach and Congregational Mission for the ELCA. He was formerly bishop of the Metro New York Synod where he ministered with immigrants.

Some kind of comprehensive immigration reform will be on the table with congress this year, and it is important for those of us who are people of faith, who are descended from immigrants, and who desire to fulfill the biblical mandate to welcome the stranger and refugee in our midst, to learn more about the current immigration debate, and the Lutheran voice in the midst of that debate.

Would you consider joining me in this important study? We'll meet in our church council room. We'll have hot cider and coffee on, and I guarantee a lively and enriching conversation.

Advent Conspiracy

Advent Conspiracy

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Christmas Letter 2009

Christmas is something we receive as a tradition from our ancestors. Each of us is in that long chain of disciples who can say, “For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you” (1 Corinthians 11:23). In fact, even the early Christians understood the coming of Christ among them to be something they received from their ancestors. “Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom he also created the worlds” (Hebrews 1:1-2). This Christmas season, we celebrate once again by repeating the same old story. We tell it again, in our worship, and in our church. We pass on what we have first received as a gift.

Trudy Spike, our council president, recently shared with me an excerpt from her great-great-grandmother’s diary. I consider her brief Christmas morning meditation a perfect example of how our ancestors maintained the faith. She wrote:

“Christmas morning dawned bright & clear. It froze quite hard last night. It has been a very pleasant day, not so very cold. Santa Clause remembered the children & a kind God remembered us all with a bountiful harvest & in also sparing our lives, & all in the enjoyment of good health at present. So much to be appreciated & to feel thankful for& to give thanks to Him who ever remembers us with these blessings, & may He help us each day to live nearer to Him & lead us in the way He would have us go & help us to guard our lips from speaking evil or doing anything wrong, & help us each one so to live that we may be prepared to live with our Savior above as we separate here one by one for a little time. May we be all reunited above, an unbroken family, not one missing one” (Rosanne McKinney Arnold’s diary, dated December 25, 1894).

Christmas is also a story that comes to us new each year, and in each generation. Christmas is always coming again, in the present moment. I’m reminded of a favorite Christmas carol, O Little Town of Bethlehem, where we sing and pray in the fourth verse, “O holy child of Bethlehem, descend to us, we pray; cast out our sin, and enter in, be born in us today.” Jesus Christ is born in our hearts, and is born in human hearts “where meek souls will receive him, still.” When Jesus taught Nicodemus, one of the leader’s of the Jews, about the new life of faith, he said, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above” (John 3:3). We are born from above when Christ is born in us. Halleluia!

So I encourage you, in these holy days, to find ways to receive the tradition that has been passed on to you as a gracious gift, and then find bold and healthy ways to pass the tradition on. Tell the story again. Read the nativity story from the gospel of Luke when you gather together for Christmas (Luke 2:1-20).

And let us be open, each of us, to the ways we might receive Christ in faith in our hearts now, in our generation. God in Christ can change even as hardened a heart as Scrooge in A Christmas Carol. God can warm our hearts, give us new hearts, create in us clean hearts, so that Christ may be born in us today. May it be so with us, and our congregation. May we be so bold as to offer our hearts as the manger where the Christ child can be lay.

In Christ,


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Take Action on Immigration Reform

I just took action on CIR ASAP, a recently-introduced just and humane immigration reform bill. Please consider taking action to support this bill! Our leaders need to hear from constitutents that our immigration system is broken. Click here for more information about Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service's Stand for Welcome campaign: and click here to take action:

Praying the Psalms with 30 People in an Online Community

Reading a sermon of John Donne in Ellen Davis's wonderful book: Wondrous Depth, Preaching the Old Testament. Donne was a prebend at St. Paul's Church, and there were 30 prebends altogether. Between the 30 of them, they prayed all 150 psalms each day, five psalms assigned to each prebend to pray daily. What are the odds we could form a Facebook/Blogger/Twitter prebendary, 30 folks who agree to pray five assigned psalms daily?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Country Music and Proverbs, vote for your favorites

Use this link, to vote for the best country music songs for our worship band to cover and sing during Lent as we reflect on links between the Proverbs in Scripture and the text of country music songs.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Bringing the Text Forward in Preaching

Mary Hinkle Shore on speaking about bringing the text forward in preaching. Rediscovering Values: On Wall Street, Main Street, and Your Street (9781439183120): Jim Wallis: Books Rediscovering Values: On Wall Street, Main Street, and Your Street (9781439183120): Jim Wallis: Books

About Jim Wallis's New Book

"I have written a new book -- one I didn’t expect or plan to write, but one that simply emerged as we were seeking to respond to the economic crisis that has gripped the nation and the world. I wrote it as a tract for the times, and it’s titled Rediscovering Values: On Wall Street, Main Street, and Your Street -- A Moral Compass for the New Economy. It will be released by Simon & Schuster in January and is available now for pre-orders.

This recession presents us with an enormous opportunity to rediscover our values -- as people, as families, as communities of faith, and as a nation. It is a moment of decision we dare not pass by. We have forgotten some very important things, and it’s time to remember them again. Yes, we do need an economic recovery, but we also need a moral recovery -- on Wall Street, Main Street, and Your Street. And we will need a moral compass for the new economy that is emerging.

The Great Recession that has gripped the world, defined the moment, and captured all of our attention has also revealed a profound values crisis. Just beneath the surface of the economics debate, a deep national reflection is begging to take place and, indeed, has already begun in people’s heads, hearts, and conversations. The questions it raises concern our personal, family, and national priorities; our habits of the heart; our measures of success; the values of our families and our children; our spiritual well-being; and the ultimate goals and purposes of life -- including our economic life.

Underneath the public discourse, another conversation is emerging about who and what we want to be -- as individuals, as a nation, and as a human community. By and large, the media has missed the deeper discussion and continues to focus only upon the surface of the crisis. And most of our politicians just want to tell us how soon the crisis can be over. But there are deeper questions here and some fundamental choices to make. That’s why this could be a transformational moment -- one of those times that comes around only very occasionally. We don’t want to miss this opportunity.

The economic tide going out has not only shown us who was “swimming naked,” as Warren Buffett put it, but it has also revealed that no invisible hand b e hind the curtain is guiding our economy to inevitable success. It is a sobering moment in our lives when we can see our own thoughtlessness, greed, and impatience writ large across the global sky. And it is a good time to start asking better questions.

The book suggests we have been asking the wrong question: “When will this crisis end?” It seeks to replace that with the right question: “How will this crisis change us?” The book is about the moral recovery which must accompany the economic recovery, and suggests that we must not go back to business as usual; rather, we need a new normal. The new book is about the values questions that are at the heart of how we got into this crisis, and are critical to getting us out of it. It describes the maxims that overtook us -- Greed is Good, It’s All About Me, and I Want it Now -- values that wreck economies, cultures, families, and even our souls. Instead it calls for a return to new/old virtues like Enough is Enough, We’re In It Together, and evaluating our decisions by their impact on the Seventh Generation out.

It also calls for a conversion of our habits of the heart to a clean energy economy, a family values culture, and a new meaning for both work and service. It suggests that, spiritually, the market had become god-like, and that restoring proper worship even means recognizing the limits of the market. The book describes how our many religious traditions contain many valuable correctives to this economic crisis that has spun out of control. It describes how the recent narrative of banks, bailouts, and bonuses has all the makings of a bad morality play. And it ends with 20 “moral exercises” that offer a values audit of our personal, family, community, financial, and social life.

Could there be some good news in, through, and even because of this Great Recession? Maybe so, if it becomes the opportunity to rediscover some important things that we somehow lost, but now might find again."

Protestant Blog Ethic: You are invited to arrange and produce a new Jonathan Rundman recording!

Protestant Blog Ethic: You are invited to arrange and produce a new Jonathan Rundman recording!

Works of Mercy

[excerpted from Wikipedia, I try to review these regularly and then review my life to see how they compare. It is a good spiritual discipline I commend to everyone]


Corporal works of mercy

Corporal Works of Mercy are those that tend to bodily needs. The The Judgement of Nations (Matthew 25:31-46) enumerates such acts -- though not this precise list -- as the reason for the salvation of the saved, and the omission of them as the reason for damnation. The last work of mercy, burying the dead, comes from the Book of Tobit.

Feed the hungry
Give drink to the thirsty
Clothe the naked
Shelter the Homeless
Visit the sick
Visit the imprisoned
Bury the dead

Spiritual works of mercy

Not everyone is considered capable or obligated to perform the first three spiritual works of mercy if they do not have proper tact, knowledge or training to do so. The last four are considered to be the obligation of all people without condition.

Instruct the ignorant;
Counsel the doubtful;
Admonish sinners;
Bear wrongs patiently;
Forgive offences willingly;
Comfort the afflicted;
Pray for the living and the dead.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Lutheran World Relief Global Development Strategy

Lutheran World Relief

Petition the White House for a Global Development Strategy

Right now, President Obama and his senior advisors are debating the future of U.S. efforts to alleviate poverty, fight disease, and create economic opportunity for the world’s poorest people.

National Security Advisor James Jones and National Economic Council Director Lawrence Summers are urgently preparing recommendations for how the whole U.S. government should do development in in the 21st century.

Join LWR and the rest of the development community and sign the first-ever petition asking the White House to make a strong statement about America’s commitment to development. We need 150,000 signatures by December 17th.

ARE:A Renewal Enterprise:

ARE:A Renewal Enterprise:

Anyone else familiar with this coaching resource and can give comment?