Fridays Are For Photographs

March 25, 2011 1 comment

Original Photo (with a texturized edit), Vintage Euro Espresso Machine, Oklahoma City


Fridays Are For Photographs

March 11, 2011 Leave a comment

Waiting For Spring”  Original Photo, Winter 2011, Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Missouri

Return To Me

March 10, 2011 Leave a comment

“Even now, declares the LORD, return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning. Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.” Joel 2:12-13

“The Return of the Prodigal Son,” Rembrandt, 1663-1665

Being Human – Ash Wednesday

March 9, 2011 Leave a comment


“By the sweat of your brow
will you have food to eat
until you return to the ground
from which you were made.
For you were made from dust,
and to dust you will return.”
Genesis 3.19

Today’s post include thoughts from Mark D. Roberts.  He talks about Ash Wednesday and being human.  Here are some excerpts.  You can find the complete devotion at The High Calling of Our Daily Work.

Today is Ash Wednesday, a day many Christians set aside as a special day. It is a day to remember our humanness and mortality. It is a day to begin the season of Lent, a time for reflection, penitence, and preparation for Easter . . .

. . . Like Adam, we have come from dust, and to dust we will return. Throughout our lives, our dusty bodies remind us of our [humanity], when they get sick, or when they work imperfectly, or when they age, or when they stop working altogether . . .

. . . Ash Wednesday begins with bad news . . . but also signifies hope.  The ashes that are imposed on our heads form the shape of a cross. Sometimes these crosses are obvious; sometimes more subtle. But the very stuff that symbolizes our [humanity] and sin also alludes to that which will set us free. It reminds us that God has entered into our human condition in order to break the power of sin and welcome us into the fullness of his life.

Yet Ash Wednesday is not Good Friday. It is not a day to focus on the cross so much as a time to begin to realize just how much we need the cross.

. . . Like millions of Christians throughout the world, today I will be reminded of my [humanity]. I have come from dust, and to dust I shall return. Thanks be to God, this is not the end of the story, but just the beginning, because God himself entered into my dustiness in Jesus Christ.

Categories: Devotional

Psalm 84 – How Lovely Are Thy Dwelling Places

March 2, 2011 Leave a comment

I am meditating on Psalm 84 this morning with the help of Johannes Brahms.  His German Requiem is impressive.  The first time I heard it was with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra.  Movement 4 is Psalm 84, “How Lovely Are Thy Dwelling Places [Tabernacles].” This piece moved me completely–more than any of the others.  Serene.  Restful.  Contented.  All the troubles of my world melted away for a short time.

Using Luther’s translation of Psalm 84, Brahms brings these words to life with a breathtaking score.  Brahms’s personal story is a victory over physical and psychological abuse–one who understands personal loss.  This encourages me as I listen.  I hear the triumphant call and invitation to find a home in the Lord Jesus. Even the sparrow wants a place near Yahweh’s dwelling place,

Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young— a place near your altar

I found a You Tube video with the Philharmonic Orchestra playing Brahms “Wie lieblich sind deine Wohnungen.”  The way I like to listen is with my headphones.  And, since I see better with my eyes closed, I close my eyes and let the words of the psalmist and Brahms’ music wash over me. Here is the english translation:

How lovely are thy tabernacles,
O Lord of hosts!
My soul longs, yea, even faints
for the courts of the Lord:
my heart and my flesh cries out
for the living God.
Blessed are they that dwell in thy house:
they will always be praising thee. Psalm 84:1,2,4

Categories: Devotional, Scripture

Whom Have I In Heaven But You

February 28, 2011 Leave a comment

If we love a human being and do not love God,

we demand of him every perfection and every rectitude,

and when we do not get it, we become cruel and vindictive;

we are demanding of a human being that which he or she cannot give.

There is only one Being who can satisfy the last aching abyss

of the human heart  and that is the Lord Jesus Christ.

Why our Lord is apparently so severe regarding

every human relationship is because he

knows that every relationship not

based on loyalty to Himself

will end in disaster.

[Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest (July 30), 154]

Psalm 73:25-26

25 Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
26 My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.

If E’er I ‘Tweren’t A Poet

February 26, 2011 2 comments

I don’t write poetry.  I’ve tried my hand at it. I start out with an extra-fine writing pen and an empty page. Write one word or two.  Push back.  Stop.  I laugh at myself.  I know that when I try my hand at poetry, my words read more like muddled ooze on the page.  I’ve embraced the non-poet in myself (!) Smile.  On the other hand, I enjoy, if not all out love, reading poetry.  I’ve also taken to listening to Garrison Keillor’s “The Writer’s Almanac.” Along with historical notes and birthdays of authors, Garrison reads a poem for the day.  I like Garrison’s voice, but more so, I like the poetry he chooses to read.

Even though I would have liked to write poetry, I don’t have to.  I read other poets, and listen when I can.  I appreciate those who are able to write  – as poetry is a crafted language and an art unto itself.

One poet I read is Wendell Berry.  He is a farmer, essayist, conservationist, novelist, and teacher.  Mr. Berry writes about marriage, community, the land and the fidelity each demands.  He pulls on my love for nature and the country.  He also speaks strongly towards the irreverence toward God’s gift of Creation and the uniqueness of people and relationships – both at an alarming risk in our post-modern culture.

The poem that inspired this post is called “How To Be A Poet.”  By the poem’s end, I know that his words and sentences are about writing poetry but so much more.  You can listen to the poem read by Garrison Keillor here.

How To Be a Poet

by Wendell Berry

(to remind myself)

Make a place to sit down.
Sit down. Be quiet.
You must depend upon
affection, reading, knowledge,
skill—more of each
than you have—inspiration,
work, growing older, patience,
for patience joins time
to eternity. Any readers
who like your work,
doubt their judgment.

Breathe with unconditional breath
the unconditioned air.
Shun electric wire.
Communicate slowly. Live
a three-dimensioned life;
stay away from screens.
Stay away from anything
that obscures the place it is in.
There are no unsacred places;
there are only sacred places
and desecrated places.

Accept what comes from silence.
Make the best you can of it.
Of the little words that come
out of the silence, like prayers
prayed back to the one who prays,
make a poem that does not disturb
the silence from which it came.

“How to be a Poet” by Wendell Berry from Given. © Shoemaker Hoard, 2005.

Categories: Authors and such, Poems