Friday, December 19, 2008


I've been doing a lot of studying lately. December is an off-month for me, which means there are no classes to teach. So I'm trying to take advantage of the downtime by preparing for the classes that begin in January. I'll be teaching Galatians, Hosea, and doing an e4 session on the Wisdom Books.

The book I chose to study in preparation for the Psalms (Just one of the five Wisdom Books) is "Praying the Psalms" by Walter Brueggemann. I chose the book mostly because it was short and appeared to be both scholarly and practical, which is the thrust of our e4 program. I should also point out that in my first e4 session I railed against Brueggemann's awful exegesis of the book of Luke, so coming back to him is a work of redemption. 

His book hasn't particularly blown me away, but I just finished the second chapter, "The Liberation of Language." I appreciate the distinction he makes between language that describes things as they are and language that creates new spaces. The Psalms fall into the latter category. These poems and prayers do not describe the world as it is. Rather, they create a space of communion between hurting people and a healing God, or between celebrative people and an overjoyed Lord. They are not the language of, to use my own experience, computer engineering. They are the language of theatre.

Psalms are words which occupy a space for which there are no words. They create a bond between creature and Creator. They give breath to both inexpressible grief and joy. In the Psalms we find a depth of true expression that we did not know existed, or did not think we had permission to speak. The Psalms set our hearts free to speak to God as sons and daughters, with all the familiarity of in-the-family language. They are the inside-jokes, so to speak, of God's household. They are our special language to him--a personal prayer language for God's children.

They are also prayers that we can offer on behalf of others. I am not always writhing in the agony of Psalm 22, but more often than not, I know someone who is. These are our prayers for ourselves and for each other. May it be so in me.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

A Violet Christmas

It's not that I'm tired of Christmas music, it's that I'm tired of cheesy-pop-family-friendly-same-50-song-rotation Christmas music. If I ever have to listen to a radio station called "The River" again I'm going to punch myself in the face. That's why I'm so grateful to The Violet Burning for putting out a Christmas album and offering it as a FREE DOWNLOAD on their website. It's a way awesome take on Christmas songs with that usual Violets twist. Download. Listen. Enjoy [Christmas again for the first time once again all over again].

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

He Found a Rhythm

A couple months ago we were at church and I let Cyrus play the drum set. I showed him one time how to play a simple beat on the high-hat and snare, and he picked it up right away. Breena shot this video on her phone, so the image is really dark, but that's him on the drums with me in the background. (I've got my foot on the high-hat pedal to keep it closed.)

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Sermon Audio: Outsider In

I preached at my church this past weekend, and I finally have access to sermon audio! Woohoo!