Wednesday, September 30, 2009

National Parks Documentary

Off and on the last couple days I have been trying to catch the documentary The National Parks: America's Best Idea. I usually try and avoid PBS because, well, I don't think the government should be in the business of running a television station. And they seem to do it fairly poorly, from all of the lame fundraising drives I seem to hear and see when I do watch. Anyway...I am getting away from my point.
The documentary on the National Parks is extremely well done. It is unashamedly in support of the development and continued support of National Parks. It weaves a story of the history of people who were a part of the National Park movement, including folks like John Muir, John D. Rockefeller, John Dorr, Steven Mather, and of course Theodore Roosevelt.
What I find interesting, however, is the strong emphasis on the spiritual and in some cases the religious that permeates the documentary. Listen to the movie closely, and you cannot help but notice this. But this is even clearer in the episode titles. Episode 1 is entitled The Scripture of Nature. Morning of Creation is the title of the sixth and final episode of the documentary.
Muir was one, like Lincoln before him, who had a strong classical knowlege of both the Scriptures and Shakespeare. and used both to his advantage in crafting communication about the value of the parks.
Over and over again, we find among those who were the strongest advocates of the National Parks, a sense of the healing properties of those most treasured natural places in the lives of those who were the National Parks strongest advocates. Mather needed the parks for his mental health, Muir for his physical well-being. Again, a spiritual dimension to the documentary, emphasizing the almost supernatural power of natural places to heal and strengthen.
I am eager to see more of this documentary as is goes along. Have any of the rest of you out there been watching?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


Beautiful sense of green grass rising into golden fields, which again rising into purple mountains, rising again into the blue cloudless sky.
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Jenny and I in the Tetons at Jenny Lake

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I thought this would just be a fun pic for thinking and meditating. There are certain images, perhaps some would call them icons, that often speak to me. One is a clear path in front of me. Another is a door, especially an open door. Certain kinds of bodies of water and trees also seem to provoke a strong emotional response in me. As do certain large rocks.
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Jen at Jenny Lake in Tetons National Park

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Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Fixed Hour Prayer

For around 6 months or so, I have made an off and on effort to participate in some sort of fixed-hour prayer. During this time, I have consistently felt like a failure at this project to my inability to practice this kind of prayer on a regular basis.

I tried to begin again with my effort to do fixed-hour prayer as a spiritual discipline. And, as often happens, I do well in the mornings when I am at an unhurried pace, and then fell short in the evening as things got easier.

This morning, I came to the conclusion that praying through my prayer book in the morning, a few times, and not getting to it more in the afternoon and evening is ok. In fact, it is good. It is working at centering me in the morning, and at times one or more of the Scriptures come to mind during the day.

Am I being to easy on myself?

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Biography in Music: Middle School--The CCM Years

In between elementary school and middle school I had a major spiritual awakening impact my life. All of the sudden, everything changed. My politics went from liberal to conservative. I started to feel guilty about wearing shorts in the summer. And my music went from ecclectic to shunning all secular music whatsoever.
Thus, we listened to a radio station in Ashland called K-DOVE. I learned to appreciate the musical stylings of Carmen, Sandi Patti, the Winans, and Amy Grant. Of course, my church declared that all of the music I had listened to before was of the Devil. So, much of the music I had before went into the garbage as an act of compliance toward my faith.
Of the CCM artists of the mid-80s, Amy Grant was my favorite at the time. My church taught that all rock music had its roots with African Witch Doctors (can anyone say racism?), and that much of Christian music was thus corrupted because it had occult rhythms. Thus, kids should listen only to sacred music and classical music (what about the pagan stylings of Stravinsky?), and most "Christian" music was actually also evil. Thank God we moved before my freshman year in high school. Among many other things, it would eventually let me listen to some half-way decent music again.
To this day, if I have to listen to a song recorded by Sandi Patti, I want to hit someone.

Biography in Music: Elementary School

By the time I got out of Early Elementary school, I was beginning to find my own voice in my music selections. Which means, above everything, that my musical tastes became ecclectic.


I had a strong affinity for country music in elementary school. I had heard a lot of it as a child, but certain artists began to grow on me. I remember asking for the Kenny Rogers greatest hits cassette, and getting it from my maternal grandmother. I also was a big fan of the album "Urban Chipmunk" from the Chipmunks. I remember my dad having a Hank Williams Jr. album in the house. I have always loved Bocephus.

Weird Al
I think every 5 to 10 years Wierd Al Yankovich makes a comeback because there is a whole group of elementary school boys discovers how fun and delicious parody is. I grew up at the height of Weird Al popularity. In 1984 "Eat It" came out on the album "Weird Al Yankovich in 3-D". It was his highest charting song until "White And Nerdy" charted higher a few years ago. I played that cassette for years until it fell apart, and loved every minute of it.

Heavy Metal and Hard Rock
In 6th grade I discovered groups such as Quiet Riot, Twisted Sister, Ratt, Billy Idol, and the like. I remember sitting in the house in the dark with the curtains drawn just listening to the guitars and testosterone filled lyrics. I loved this music. I also felt like it had the potential to bring out the darkest moods in me. Nevertheless I listened and enjoyed. At least, until mom got home from work.

In addition to having this ecclectic collection of music that I enjoyed listening to, our culture also had one central event that drove my music taste:

I remember being in elementary school one summer, staying at home with my sister while my mom was working, and watching two things on cable that whole summer. One was the Los Angeles Summer Olympics. The other was this new thing called MTV. At that point they actually played music videos full-time, they had real VJs , and interviewed artists. It was extremely low budget, with a public access picture of a man landing on the moon as their introduction. It was great.

Monday, September 07, 2009

The Fair and Darius Rucker

Last Saturday night Jennifer and I went to the Colorado State Fair. Specifically we went to the fair because we had tickets to the Darius Rucker concert, but we went a couple of ours early because we wanted to check out the booths at the fair and look around.

I asked Jennifer to drive. She asked why. I said because I hate crowds and they make me uncomfortable. This led to a good conversation on my relationships to crowds of people. Do I have concerns about an anxiety disorder related to crowds? No. Do I like being in big groups of people with lots of strangers around everywhere? No I don't. Crowds drain me of my energy and put me a little on edge.

We found a nice little curb to park on and paid NOTHING. We were pretty stoked about that. We walked for several blocks to the entrance of the fairgrounds. It was a perfect evening for a walk. Then we went into the fairgrounds.

What I enjoy about fairs is walking past the booths and smelling all the smells and hearing all the sounds. Now, I could not enjoy this over a long period of time. But over a short period of time, the constant change in smells and the constant change in the crowds around us intrigued me. It made me think about and enjoy the diversity of tastes, perfumes, and people as we wandered around.

We made a few purchases, and got a little bit to eat, and then we went into the Darius Rucker concert. Here are a few of my quick hits of thoughts about the evening:

  • Overall the concert was good. Well performed.

  • I enjoyed Rucker's choices of songs to sing that were not songs he had recorded with either Hootie and the Blowfish, or on one of his other albums. These songs included: God Love Her (Toby Keith), You Don't Even Call Me By My Name (David Allen Coe), Family Tradition (Hank Williams Jr.) and In Pictures (Jamie Johnson). This was a good mix of old and new in my opinion. And he handled doing covers of others with humility and grace, including saying "this was the section of songs I wish I had wrote". I believe Family Tradition to be the ultimate blue-collar anthem, and this was demonstrated by the amount of men that stood up ONLY at this point in the concert.His use of these songs, as opposed to some country songwith a little more of a pop music sound adds to a sense that he is authentically a fan of country and singing country.

  • Its amazing what happens when you ad a little fiddle and a little twang to a Hootie and the Blowfish song.

  • Rucker's body movement while singing is unique. While he can authentically pull of a country music performance in every other way, his mannerisms while singing seem to always have an R&B/Blues effect. Adds to a sense of authenticity to his craft, but at times can be a little distracting to the music.

  • The first encore Rucker sang a song a cappella. Man does that dude have a voice.

  • By far the best performance of the night (besides the cover material) was the drinking and dialing song. Funny.

  • He closed, strangely enough, with a country version of Prince's Purple Rain. The man can move across genres at light speed

  • One of the most fun things in listening to Darius Rucker is that his baritone voice gives most altos, tenors, and basses a sense that they can sing the music with him and be on key. Yet, few have the tone depth of Darius Rucker.

Sermon 9.6.09


Psalm 63

A Psalm of David when he was in the wilderness of Judah.

 1 O God, You are my God;
         Early will I seek You;
         My soul thirsts for You;
         My flesh longs for You
         In a dry and thirsty land
         Where there is no water.
2 So I have looked for You in the sanctuary,
         To see Your power and Your glory.
3 Because Your lovingkindness is better than life,
         My lips shall praise You.
4 Thus I will bless You while I live;
         I will lift up my hands in Your name.
5 My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness,
         And my mouth shall praise You with joyful lips.
6 When I remember You on my bed,
         I meditate on You in the night watches.
7 Because You have been my help,
         Therefore in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice.
8 My soul follows close behind You;
         Your right hand upholds me.
9 But those who seek my life, to destroy it,
         Shall go into the lower parts of the earth.
10 They shall fall by the sword;
         They shall be a portion for jackals.
11 But the king shall rejoice in God;
         Everyone who swears by Him shall glory;
         But the mouth of those who speak lies shall be stopped.


Today, after the sermon, we come to a table. A table with the fruit of vine, and food made from wheat from the ground. Simple common elements. Something to drink. Something to eat. To remember our Lord we have food and drink. Nothing fancy. Just a cup and a plate.


Many times as we have come to this table, we have come and remembered Christ's sacrifice for us. We remember that the bread represents his body, broken for us. We drink the cup and remember his blood that has been shed for us. We do well to do this. For there is no more pivotal event in history, no more important action of God in the world, no more loving act ever offered, than what Jesus did on the cross. Dying so that we might live. Loving us first so that we might learn to love. God is good. Nowhere do we see that more than when we remember Christ at the Lord's Table.


This morning, before we come to the table, I want us to examine our hearts. I want us to take inventory of what is going on in us, and where our heart is in relationship to Jesus. Scripture commands us to do this generally, and it encourages us in I Corinthians 11 to examine our hearts as we come to the Lord's Table (v.28).


How I want us to examine our hearts this morning is by looking at what the elements we have in front of us are as we partake in the Lord's Supper. What we have in front of us is food, and drink. Food and drink. When Jesus started to lay out how he wanted to bless his followers in the Sermon on the Mount he said "blessed are you who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for you shall be filled"(Matthew 5:6). When we look at the bread, we remember Jesus said "I am the bread of life" (John 6). When we look at the cup we remember Jesus said "I am the vine, and you are the branches" (John 15). Ever think about how we remember God with food and with drink? Interesting isn't it?


Then we come to the passage we just read earlier. This Psalm was written by King David. It was written as he was wandering around in the desert. Running for his life from King Saul. David had been anointed the future king, but Saul was still on the throne. He was moody, jealous of David, and out for blood. So David and his friends ran. And they hid in the caves and crags in the wilderness of Judah. I imagine he had gotten hungry and thirsty.


Have you ever been walking or riding out in the wilderness? Maybe you were out on a hunting trip, or maybe you were on a hike, or you were just working or playing a football game, and all of the sudden you became thirsty. And, if you were out hiking, all of the sudden you came to a place where you found some cool, safe water to drink. Or if you were playing volleyball or football, someone ran out a bunch of water during a timeout. You were hot. You were thirsty. You were drenched with sweat. All you could think of was having a bit of that nice, cool water on your tongue.


I think David must have felt like this when he was running from Saul. He was rushing through those dangerous, dry places. He was hot. He was climbing and running. And then he would get something to drink. And it was like he wanted that cool water more than anything in the world. At some point, after one of these experiences, he was left to think about how life was more than food and drink.


I think it must have been one of these times of reflection when God inspired David to write this Psalm, this prayer to Him.


You see our hunger for God should be as daily, and as central for our existence, as our hunger for food. Our thirst for God's presence and blessing, should be as daily, and as central to our existence and health as liquid we drink.


The Psalmist says of his thirst for God

"I seek you"

"I long for you"

"my flesh longs for you in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water"


He goes on to say

"my soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness"


Do you hungry for God? Are you thirsty for more of God's presence and more of his blessings? Do you have a sense of spiritual longing? Are you looking to God to satisfy your deepest needs? Is knowing Jesus more and doing his will growing as a desire of your heart, or is that something on the backburner? Examine yourself and see!


Central to your spiritual well-being, your ability to grow in Christ, and your ability to have peace in Christ is having a sense of spiritual longing in your life. Longing to know God more. Longing to see more of God's power at work in your life. Longing to see more of Jesus present in your moment by moment living.


As you come to the table….I want you to think about this hope and this truth. Do I have the kind of longing for Christ and his kingdom in my life that drives it and defines my goals and my actions? Do I have the kind of longing for God and his presence that pursuing that love and that grace that it orients and defines whatever direction my life is going in? I hope that you do.

There are so many things that get in the way.


We can become hungry for financial security. And so, when it becomes time to give we become afraid to give. And so we work and work to try and develop some sort of financial security that will make us feel happy and safe and satisfied at some point. And we learn that we can never have enough money in savings, never enough food in the pantry, and never enough security in our hearts.


We can become hungry after pleasure. And we chase after whatever feels good. We get drunk, only to have a headache and a bunch of regrets in the morning. We sleep around, only to find out that that kind of pleasure doesn't satisfy in the way that we were promised. We buy new televisions and toys, clothes and vacations, hot tubs and houses thinking that each of these things will help us to feel satisfied. And we still feel hungry for more.


We can become thirsty for the approval for others. So we do what people ask of us. We do things we don't want to do, just to make the crowd or that special someone happy. We work to do things that will get us admired and respected by others. And we find that no matter how many people like us, we have other that do not appreciate anything we do. And no matter how many things we do to gain others approval, those people's approval is as fleeting as what we have done for them lately.


You can chase after all sorts of pleasures. You can desire all sorts of things that this world has to offer. You can thirst after all sorts of temptations, hopes and dreams. And they will be alright for a season, but then you will wake up and discover that your achievements are just achievements, your things are just things, your pleasures were only for the moment, and your life will seem empty, hapless, and hopeless.


Or you can come to the Lord's Table this morning. You can remember that Christ came to earth and died for us to not just help us escape from hell, but to satisfy our deepest thirsts and our most powerful hungers in ways that we have yet to imagine. I hope, I pray for you as you come to this table this morning that you will begin to commit to making Christ your passion. That knowing him and serving him will become your greatest desire. I pray you will make his presence and power in your life the deepest longing of your life. I hope that you will remember that he can fill you up full of hope, truth, and meaning. I pray that your thirsts, so often misguided, will finally be directed toward him who offers living Water and your hunger toward the Bread of life. And you will find that he satisfies.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Sad But True....

ht: Mike DeVries

Quotes from Tilden Edwards on Spiritual Formation and Prayer

From the Book--Living the Presence

“…we are tempted to draw the experience toward us as a possession, a trophy to grasp, secure, and assimilate into a willed autonomous empire of self” (9)

“prayer is more a way of being than an isolated way of doing” (11)

“By the heart God can be gotten, by the mind never” from Cloud of Unknowing (12)

“Toward ourselves we become petty tyrants, invoking overstriving and a consequent sense of failure and guilt, or self-deception at every turn” (13)

“God meets with an open-armed cross rather than with an army” (12)

“Anything we do with our bodies is a form of prayer when our central intent is opening to God’s presence through it” (17)

New News in Duggarland

Apparently, the Duggar family is having child #19. There are a lot of things that I want to say about this, but I think it better to just ask questions. Honest questions. Here they are:

How healthy is it to have 19 children? For the mother? For the children's ability to have a full-compliment of healthy genes?

What kind of depression is in store for Ms. Duggar when she can no longer bear children? How will she cope?

Will the Duggar parents live to see all of their children grown?

How do the Duggar parents have any really good sex when there are 18 children running around?

In what ways is having another child furthering their television career/plot line?

I am just curious.....

Some Interesting Articles on Bible Interpretation

The end of the TNIV

Bible Manuscript Found

Biography in Music: Pre-school through Early Elementary School

As my parents started to drift apart, they decided to move into town. As we moved into town, we started spending a lot more time with my Aunt Teresa. This increased even more once my parents got divorced, and my aunt and my mother rotated child-care at different points.

My Aunt Teresa, for as long as I can remember, always drove Subaru station wagons (now known as a "crossover"). Driving with my Aunt Teresa was always fun, because she always had the cool music, and she was always willing to play that music with us.

Most of this music was also of the country variety. Knowing my Aunt Teresa now, this surprises me, because she is not the typical pusher of country music. But almost all of Aunt Teresa's country songs were fun. Perhaps most popular on our little road trips was the song "The Devil went down to Georgia" by Charlie Daniels. Another well worn favorite song was "Elvira" by the Oak Ridge Boys. I am sure my parents played these as well, but I associate them with my Aunt Teresa.

My aunt was also a big Stray Cats fan at this time. All of us kids LOVED the Stray Cats, and their reprisal of 50's style music. It was fun and playful.

Biography in Music: Early Childhood through Preschool

One of my earliest memories is listening to Linda Ronstadt on 8-track in my mother's car. I also remember the hymn "He's got the Whole World In His Hands" playing a lot on my mother's radio. As I researched this music on Itunes, and began to play the samples, I have in my mind's eye this mental picture of us in the back of our station wagon singing "You're No Good...You're No Good...You're No Good!, Baby You're No Good" (Heart Like a Wheel Album, released 1974).

Most of what I remember my dad listening to at that time was country music. Especially the early "outlaw country" crowd of Willie, Waylon and the gang.

When my parents were married, we had family friends that we spent a lot of time with. Most of their activities were wrapped around river rafting, or the women shopping with the kids while the men went fishing. In addition to this, there were many memorable barbeques at friends' houses when we were young. At one point, all of our families were living out in different parts of the country around Roseburg, Oregon. Again, during those gatherings, I also remember a lot of outlaw country


Saying What Needs to be Said, But Should Go Without Saying           Racism is wrong. Violence based on racial prejudice is wrong. Christi...