Monday, April 07, 2008

It is a glorious spring day in Pittsburgh. I am loving it and trying my best to take it all in. One of the things I am doing to celebrate the day is listening to some great "spring" music. Jon Foreman, lead singer of Switchfoot, has released a series of EP's based upon the four seasons and today I downloaded, "Spring." These EP's are unlike anything you have heard from Switchfoot. They are acoustically based and formated songs with simple instrumentation and vocals.

Spring includes these six tracks:

* March
* Love Isn't Made
* In My Arms
* Baptize My Mind
* Your Love Is Strong
* Revenge

My favorite is "Your Love is Strong" which is Jon's take on the Lord's Prayer and Psalm 62:11-12 ("One thing God has spoken, two things have I heard: that you, O God, are strong and that you, O Lord, are loving..."):

Heavenly Father
You always amaze me
Let your kingdom come
In my world and in my life
You give me the food I need
To live through the day
And forgive me as I forgive
The people that wronged me
Lead me far from temptation
Deliver me from the evil one

I look out the window
The birds are composing
Not a note is out of tune
Or out of place
I look at the meadow
And stare at the flowers
Better dressed than any girl
On her wedding day

So why do I worry?
Why do I freak out?
God knows what I need
You know what I need

Your love is
Your love is
Your love is strong.

So, what are you dong on this spring day?

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Friday, February 23, 2007


Guess what I gave up for Lent? My Dell notebook. I have moved out of the darkness and into the white side of things with my new Mac Book. Very cool.

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Friday, February 16, 2007


Yesterday I experienced the gift of music in a variety of ways. It was an especially fitting day for me as February 11 is the day the Church remembers Caedmon, a member of the great cloud of witnesses that cheers us on. Tradition tells us that Caedmon (d680) loved to listen to music; it thrilled him and other’s people’s stories and songs brought him great joy! However, Caedmon could not play a single note on an instrument, nor could he sing on pitch. As a child his singing was so bad that when he tried to join in a song, everyone else was unable to keep singing.

One night, when Caedmon had left a great feast and had taken refuge in the stable, he had a dream and in it heard a voice saying: 'Sing, Caedmon. Sing some song to Me.' Caedmon stammered in reply: 'I cannot sing.' 'But you shall sing,' replied the voice. 'What shall I sing?' Caedmon asked in wonder. The voice answered: 'Sing the beginning of created things.' And Caedmon, in that moment, attempting to sing, found his stammering tongue had been loosened. He sang a song of praise to the Guardian of Heaven, the Father of glory. And in his dream he was able to sing a song so beautiful that it would make you cry!

When he awoke, the song was still with him. He sang it for God and for himself. He sang it for the stewards. And he sang it for the Abbess Hild, to whom he related his strange story. He sang to her the song he had sung in the night, and she and all who heard were amazed, and agreed 'that heavenly grace had been conferred upon him by the Lord.'

This was the original Caedmon’s Call.

Yesterday morning I received the gift of music as our worship team had opportunity to raise song of praise and love to our great God. It is a true joy making music with our team and it delights my soul.

Last night I watched the 49th Grammy’s with my son Sam (a gifted musician in his own right). We had fun together not only watching the performances but providing our own critical commentary along the way. Some of my highlights:

The Police’s version of their classic “Roxanne”
Christina Aguilera nailing James Brown’s “It’s a Man’s World”
Emily Robinson of the Dixie Chick’s doing a great impression of the girls from the Robert Palmer video
Smokey Robinson doing “Tracks of My Tears” and Lionel Richie singing “Hello”
Gnarls Barkley’s haunting version of “Crazy”
Corinne Bailey Rae, John Legend and John Mayer performing together (especially Mayer’s ripping guitar solo at the end of “Gravity”)

Let me close with the words of Bono:

“Music is worship; whether it’s worship of women or their designer, the world or its destroyer, whether it comes from the ancient place we call soul or simply the spinal cortex, whether the prayers are on fire with a dumb rage or dove-like desire, the smoke goes upwards to God or something you replace with God. Usually yourself.”

Think about it! Thanks be to God for the gift of music!

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Tuesday, February 06, 2007


One of my developmental goals this year is to grow in my emotional engagement. The other day I received a short but powerful email from The Human Performance Institute:

"Being fully engaged requires that you are emotionally connected, mentally focused, physically energized, and spiritually aligned in what really matters. The emotional dimension consists of two types of emotions: survival-based and opportunity-based emotions.

Survival-based emotions involve feelings of anger, fear, revenge, anxiety or insecurity. These negative emotions provide a very low quality of energy.

Opportunity-based emotions involve feelings of adventure, challenge, confidence, enjoyment and gratitude. These positive emotions provide the highest quality of energy, making it possible to fully ignite your talent & skills in what matters most to you.

Tip: When engaging in something or with someone that is very important to you, do whatever it takes to bring opportunity-based (positive) emotions to the moment. For example, think about the positive outcome that you would like to see happen. Generating positive energy ensures that you can be fully engaged in that situation or with that individual."

Today I had the opportunity to put this advice into action. I have a regular weekly meeting with a group that up to this point has been draining me. The last couple of weeks I have walked into this meeting with a variety oif survival-based emotions. This afternoon I worked hard to enter into the experience with a sense of challenege and adventure and it made all the difference for me (and I hope for the others involved).

Does any of this resonate with you? How do you stay engaged emotionally in demanding situation and contexts?

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Saturday, February 03, 2007


Have you ever felt you were stumbling around in the dark? Or maybe wishing you could get your life going in a different and healthier direction? I sure have.

This morning these words from Isaiah 58 grabbed my attention:

“Do this and the lights will turn on and your lives will turn around at once. (Isaiah 58:8, The Message).

Wow – do this and the lights will turn on. What must I do?

The word of the Lord:

“Break the chains of injustice, get rid of exploitation in the workplace, free the oppressed, cancel debts. What I’m interested in seeing you do is: sharing your food with the hungry, inviting the homeless poor into your homes, putting clothes on the shivering ill-clad, being available to your own families.” (Isaiah 58:6-7)

Let’s go turn some lights on!

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Wednesday, March 15, 2006


Yesterday was my birthday - 47. I had a great day. Here's what a guy like me does on his birthday.

I began the day with a good friend of mine, Terry Mann (pastor of Fountain Park Church) doing what we do every other Monday morning - drinking large amounts of coffee, kicking around life and ministry, and encouraging one other to be all that God intends us to be. One of yesterday's highlights was the finalization of our travel plans for a trip together to LA in May to attend ORIGINS. I participated last year and I am looking forward to sharing the experience with Terry, as he is one of the biggest dreamers I know.

During the mid-day I gathered with about a dozen other missional leaders at the home of Scott Sunquist (professor at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary) for the second missional pastor’s cohort. This is a brand new group that I am involved with and we are committed to traveling together on the path of solid biblical and theological reflection on the practice of leadership in the local church. Yesterday our topic of conversation was Missional Hermeneutics and we discussed some ideas found in Lesslie Newbiggin's, The Gospel in a Pluralist Society. It was good to wrap my mind and heart around some of these ideas.

Taking full advantage of a 75 degree afternoon, I hit the road for a 45 minute run. Over the past three months I have made a commitment to getting the body back in shape and apart from nagging back pain, things are going pretty well. I have been leveraging the time to take in some podcasts and yesterday I listened to a dynamic talk from Mark Batterson, speaking about the God story behind the opening of their coffee shop in Washington, DC. Talk about a venti dream – wow!

Birthday dinners are big in our household and we typically hang out at Outback. Yesterday was no different. The Outback special and lots of brown bread make us very happy. I was even treated to an Aussie version of Happy Birthday.

After dinner, our Ministry Coordination Group gathered for our monthly meeting in the atrium of the Galleria. One of our leaders baked a cake for me (white cake – yes!) and I was truly blessed as team members took time around the table to pray for me. Thanks to Marlaena for carving out the meeting time and space to celebrate with me.

I made it home by about 8:30 PM which left enough just time to open a few presents and share in the traditional poppy seed cake (my favorite passed along by my Grandmother Timm now lovingly baked by my wide Patty). I received some special birthday cards including three handcrafted cards, one designed by my daughter Hannah (an art student at Mercyhurst College), a “Bono wishes you a Happy Birthday” card from my son, Sam (including a classic image of Bono from the early ‘80’s) and a family portrait from Abby. My two sons had a secret mission after dinner and they returned with a special gift, an autographed copy of Mike Greenberg’s book, Why My Wife Thinks I am an Idiot. I am a big Mike and Mike fan (much bigger Greenberg than Golic) and my son Nathan discovered that Mike happened to be signing books last night at the local Barnes and Nobles. That was pretty cool!

And what better way to top off a birthday than with a compelling episode of 24. Yeah, Logan cried (but so did Jack) – best hour on TV.

As my younger brother Rob said to me earlier in the day, we getting older, but better (well at least he said that about himself). Amen to that.

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Wednesday, March 01, 2006


Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of this 40 day season of preparation the Church calls Lent. As many of you know, I am not a huge liturgical kind of guy, but this day does hold special significance for me and as I reflect upon it this morning I am reminded of the incredible mystery of God's love and grace for me (and us) in Christ Jesus - love and grace that takes up residence in this very body.

This morning in our Momentum for Life study we were talking about the "E" in DRIVE which stands for Eating and Exercise. We read together Paul's words from 1 Corinthians 6:

"Didn't you realize that your body is a sacred place, the place of the Holy Spirit? Didn’t you see that you can't live however you please, squandering what God paid such a high price for? The physical part of you is not some piece of property belonging to the spiritual part of you. God owns the whole works. So let people see God in and through your body" (1 Corinthians 6:18-20, The Message).

Wow - our bodies are dwelling places of the Holy Spirit and the vessels through which Christ's work is accomplished in this world. In another text Paul calls our bodies, "jars of clay." How could this be?

On this day in many traditions, ashes are offered to the faithful and presented to the people of God with these words: "Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return. Turn away from sin and be faithful to Christ."

Those words remind me of my origins. I am dust, but oh what precious dust. God has breathed His very life into me, His very Spirit living in me.

Over the past couple of months, this truth has come alive for me through the words of a song by the David Crowder Band called "Wholly Yours" (I have discovered that when God really wants to get my attention God uses a song). The bridge of “Wholly Yours” contains these words:

But the harder I try
The more clearly can I
Feel the depth of our fall
And the weight of it all
And so this might could be
The most impossible thing
Your grandness in me making me clean.

And then concludes with this tag (but oh what a precious tag it is) - I am filled with earth...and dust...and You.

How wonderful, how mysterious, how gracious is that?

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