Monday, October 12, 2009

Gerhard Tersteegen (1697-1769) was one of many so-called German Pietists, known for their desire to stir the hearts of their followers in order for them to live holy and pious lives. Tersteegen was an amazing writer and preacher who also wrote several hymns (some of which were translated by John Wesley from the German into the English). In light of our recent discussion on finding joy in the midst of death, I found one of his hymns that I thought was inspiring and helpful, so I thought I'd share a portion.

Pilgrim Song

"On, oh beloved children

The evening is at hand,

and desolate and fearful

The solitary land.

Take heart! the rest eternal

Awaits our weary feet;

From strength to strength press onwards

The end, how passing sweet."

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Inspiration or Lack Thereof

In all honesty, I've not been all that inspired as of late to write here a whole lot here on the Fuse. Not sure why, but inspiration to do anything can be a bit sporadic at times.  Such is the case with blogging.  Blogging, in all honesty, is probably one of those fads that will eventually go by the wayside.  Yes, everyone does it now but wait a couple of more years and let's track how many are actually blogging.  Anyway, here's some of my common excuses for not blogging as they relate to inspiration:

1.  Too many other things to do (Honestly, I do have other responsibilities).
2.  I may think it, I just don't feel like sharing it by writing it out.
3.  Too tired when I do get the inspiration (This usually happens around 10 pm when I'm truly not at my best and when I'm less likely to pull out the old laptop to share)
4.  Truly don't have anything of substance to share.

So, if I'm not blogging, faithful readers, don't take it personal.  I just don't want to saddle you with a bunch of rubbish.  

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Going Places

I love to go places.  If I had a choice in retirement to stay in one place or to go from place to place, I'd chose the latter.  

I especially like to go to places that I've never been before.  I like to explore cities and towns that are completely new and to do so without much or any agenda.  This is the adventurous spirit in me.  This works that same for me when it comes to music.  I love discovering a new artist, a new song, that I've never heard before!  

But, you know what?  I also enjoy going to places that I've been a hundred times.  Those kind of places where you know every corner, every restaurant, every store.  The kind of place that brings back fond memories time and time again.  In music, there's the "oldies but goodies" that we return to time and time again.  The kinds of songs that we just can't stop listening to.  

Still, in my book, it's always great to come home!  My son Zach said it best after returning from a day trip up north: "Home Sweet Home."  When all is said and done, home is a good place to be. It allows us the most security and comfort and brings us a normalcy that, after being away from for a few days or weeks, we really long for.  

Now that summer is nearly over, the "normal" life of school and work picks back up.  Part of me is sad that the adventurous time of the summer is over but there's another part of me that likes the normal too.  In the end, it's all good and it's all a part of what makes this life that God has given us that much more refreshing and enjoyable.   So, while the normal returns for most of us, the seasons do change and another adventure is sure to be around the next corner.  

Saturday, August 08, 2009

James 2 - Faith and Works Explained

In the 2nd chapter that bears his name, James, the brother of Jesus, expends no small amount of energy trying to get a simple and yet profound message across.  In three specific instances, in verses 17, 20 and then again in verse 26, the message is the same: faith that isn't accompanied by action is useless.  In other words, if our faith isn't backed up with some sort of living out of the faith, it probably isn't faith at all.  

What James is not talking about here is is saving faith.  This is where Luther got hung up and wrongfully concluded that James was merely an "epistle of straw" as well as a "chaotic mess." Here, James is in agreement with the Apostle Paul who claims that it's by "grace through faith by which we are saved."  However, what James is talking about here in James 2 is a faith that goes above and beyond saving faith.

James was well aware of the tendency that could easily overtake many of the earliest followers of Christ.  Scattered among the nations, they could easily fall into complacency and turn their time and attention in the wrong direction.  As such, James seemingly nips in the bud the potential and perhaps actual problem, seeking to warn his audience before things got out of hand. It would be easy to fall into the trap that faith is all that  is needed.  That works are simply an added benefit.  Nevertheless, James feels quite ecstaticlly that faith without works is useless and dead.  

And here's the main point: these actions that he's calling for arent' something we're supposed to add to our belief.  Rather, they become a part of who we are.  As a band of Christ followers, we're supposed to be living out our faith by fulfilling the two great commandments.  We're to love God and we're to love our neighbors.  The Law of Christ requires that we live our lives as servants to those around us.  

The question that we have to ask ourselves is this?  Do we really believe?  Do we really believe what we're selling?  If not, it should be no surprise that our lives are characterized by very little "works" or "action."  If we do believe, if our faith is authentic, our lives can't help but show the love of Christ in our own unique and authentic way.  

somewhat ironically, in the very words of Luther himself:  Our faith "is a living, busy active mighty thing, this faith.  It is impossible for it not to be doing good things incessantly."

Monday, August 03, 2009

The Day the Stiches Came Out

During this summer, the "Golf Bug" has taken over in our house.  First it was Mitchell, mowing lawns and eventually saving up enough money to buy his own brand new set of golf clubs.  Then it was Josh - similarly working on various odd jobs in order to earn enough money for his brand new set of clubs.  Thanks to Oriole Park down the street, our kids have a great place to go hit around and gain some practice free of charge.  My oldest son even constructed a psuedo putting green behind our shed in the back yard.  On top of all this is Tiger Woods 2010 - a fun game for all to play when the sun goes down.  

In addition to the older two, Zachary and Joy have taken up golf on a lesser but still interested level. With some hand-me-down clubs inherited from a variety of places, they too have been playing around in the backyard in their own unique way.  And all was going well this summer with no injuries to speak of but then it happened.  I wasn't there but I was given the gory details from my wife.  Joy swung the club and hit Zachary just above his left eye.  According to my sources, the blood was dripping as Zachary ran into the house, shouting to my wife:  "Momma, I'm dying..."  Sure enough, this wasn't just any old wound  but one that unfortunately required a trip to the ER.  

Seven stiches and a few hours later, Zachary was home.  A brave, courageous seven- year old had faced his greatest fear (all things doctor related) and returned home victorious.  Beat up and broken, there was also evidence of popsicles on his face - apparently what hospitals give to kids as they make their way around the victory lap.  Recycled toys repackaged as gifts from the neighborhood kids lined the living room floor as Zachary walked through the door.   Visibly relieved, it was great to see his face as he walked in and saw the love and support of his troop of friends and family.

Well, after a few days of having them in, today is the day the stiches come out.  And after they come out we're still reminded of what's happened for quite some time.  The scar from my stiches all those years ago in seventh grade are still there - that day the cow's brain that I was dissecting won.  Likewise, Zach will have a lasting scar that will serve as a reminder of the day his sister clubbed him in the head.  Nevertheless, the healing has begun.  

This little even reminds me of the fact that we all have scars and wounds from our past that remain with us for a long time.  Some are physical of course, but many are of the unseen sort, and perhaps more dangerous.  They are hard to see and they often surface at the most inopportune of times.  Yes, they are subtle but they can cause so much harm to us.    The good news is that healing does happen.  Over time, those harsh words don't seem so harsh.  Over time, the memories grow less memorable and seem to lose their steam.  Still, we rarely forget and we rarely gain complete relief.  We're left with those memories and those reminders whether we like it or not.  

The question as I see it is this: Will we allow these wounds from our past to haunt us forever or will we perservere and find the courage to press on?  James tells us to "consider it pure joy...whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."  Like Paul's "thorn in the flesh" that God never took away, perhaps our past memories (regardless of how painful they may have been and continue to be) can serve to strengthen us.  In fact, I'm confident that it's only when we see them in this way that we'll truly be able to keep on keeping on.  It's only when we allow God to use our wounded past to mature us, that we'll actually be able to experience healing.  It's only when "the stitches come out," so to speak, that we'll be able to get back in the race and run it as God intends for us.  

Today, think on these things... and may God's grace be with you!

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Cure for the Common Soul

On Sunday mornings over the last few weeks, we've been looking at what it means to Renovate our lives with the resulting benefit - a renewed mind. Paul's words are fairly clear: "Don't allow the world to be the mold and model for your lives; instead allow your mind to be transformed by God."

As I mentioned in my last post, it's pretty tough for us to live virtuous lives under our own power. We have a tough time watching our neighbor next door pull up in a vehicle that would suite us perfectly while our own beat-up and broken car leaves us wishing and sometimes praying for something better. In such a scenario, how often and easily envy, jealousy, and even hatred all surface for some reason that's apparently outside of our control. Try as we might, we just can't seem to feel joyful about it at all.

What's even more puzzling is why the Apostle Paul (keep in mind he was as human as you and I are) tells us to be loving, joyful, peaceful, kind, good, faithful, gentle, and self-controlled. The simple answer is that we do so only when we live with the Spirit as our guide. In other words, when the Holy Spirit controls us, the fruit of the spirit (the list of virtues above) begins to show up in our lives. As we shed more and more of our sinful nature (the flesh which isn't really part of who we are IN CHRIST) our lives begin to look a whole lot different. What happens, essentially, is that who we are on the inside resembles who we are on the outside more and more of the time. In a nutshell, we become the same person on the outside that we are on the inside. The old is gone, the new has come.

The implication then is that we don't have to fake it any longer. We don't have to fake compassion and concern because we REALLY do feel the compassion and concern. We don't have to control our anger in public anymore because our hot-temper is gone replaced by the fruit known as patience. So, there you have it. Keep in step with the Spirit and our lives show fruit. Keep in step with the world and we continue to deal with a divided heart and we find ourselves having to fake it over and over.

In my next post, I'll post some practical ways that we can put ourselves into position for the Spirit to work in our lives. Changes are a coming...!

Thursday, July 02, 2009

A Jealous Heart

This past week, I saw jealousy surface in my now 7 -year old son Zach that I hadn't seen before. As part of our vacation, we took a hike on one of the many trails in Lincoln State Park (Indiana), one of which led to an old but still climbable Fire Tower. We knew we were looking for something to climb but I had no idea that it would be so BIG. I'm not exactly sure of the height, I'm guessing somewhere close to 75 to 80 ft. Anyway, my oldest son Mitchell took right off and began the long ascent up. My daughter Joy (5) wanted to go next, with mom's help of course. Josh (11) made it up a few flights of stairs before deciding that it was too high so he quickly made his way back down. Next in line was Zach - with my help. We made it up to about 30 feet in the air and Zach was visibly scared. And honestly, I'm not that big a fan of heights either so I was a little nervous too! Well, Zach (determined to find the Crystal Skull at the top of the tower) was at his limit. He tried and he tried to talk himself into going further but at the end of the day, he never made it up. And in a vacuum, with no one else around, he would have been alright. But, what made him so mad - bringing out the jealousy like I've never seen before from him - was the fact that his little sister Joy (who's only five) made it all the way up to the top. Honestly, I think (like Cain and Abel) he wanted his little sister dead at that very moment. Seeing her celebrate her long ascent up created a fury in him that I wasn't quite prepared for.

Well, this story reminds me of my own jealous heart at times. We live in a world of constant comparisons. As a pastor, we compare numbers and stats with other pastors. How easily jealousy arises as one pastor describes tremendous success while the other pastor, in comparison, has quite obviously failed. As a father, we compare ourselves with other fathers who seemingly have it all-together and have the father-child thing down-pat. In comparison, we struggle in our child-rearing ability. The result: jealousy. I could go on, but I think you get the point. In our culture, jealousy is a BIG issue, in kids for sure, but perhaps even more so in us as adults. We always tend to want what we don't presently have. And it drives us mad!

So, what' s the answer? After all, Christian's are called not to covet and not to desire what their neighbors and others have. We can try all we want not to want but sometimes that only makes it worse. The fact of the matter is this: it's a heart issue that only God can truly relieve us from. It's something that has to be dealt with on the inside before our outside lives (jealousy, anger, resentment, etc...) can ever show signs of rightness and righteousness characterized by joy, peace, patience, love etc... So, quit trying to be good or to be better. Quit trying not to be jealous. It's not likely to work. Instead, relinquish control and allow God to change you from the inside out. More on this tomorrow...

Monday, June 08, 2009

Long Overdue

It's been a long time since I've posted to The Fuse but new posts are coming soon! I promise... Stay tuned for some new reviews and other relevant information coming in the days ahead.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Easter at the Voyage Church

Just a reminder out there for all of you - this weekend will offer an additional Easter service on Saturday night from 6 to 7:15 or so. If you have family, friends that you know won't get up on Sunday morning, why not invite them to a Saturday night service! For those of you who just can't celebrate Easter on a day other than Easter, of course we'll be having our normal worship time at 11 AM. We'd love to have you either time.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

My Life on Music

One of my favorite things to do in my spare time is to listen to music. Thanks to local radio station 88.1 FM WYCE, I not only have a chance to get my hands on Brand New Music before it ever hits the record stores, I also get to review this great music as well! While I'm not a country music fan, the bluegrass of Donna Ulissee's latest is pretty good: Here's my review below. Check out the music when you get a chance - I don't think you'll be disappointed.

The word "real" comes to mind as you listen to Donna Ulisse's latest release, "Walk This Mountain Down." There's nothing phony here as the singer/songwriter shares her life - both the ups and the downs. The title track, well worth a spin, was actually inspired by Ulisse watching her mother-in-law hold strong and steady after losing her husband and daughter all in the span of one year. The fast-paced opener, "In My Wildest Dreams" is a great way to get things moving, highlighting the banjo and Ulisse's country laced voice that fits well in the bluegrass genre of things. Things slow down a bit, as the singer/songwriter gets serious on the beautiful "Poor Mountain Boy." Another song worth checking out is the blues sounding "The Trouble With You." Most prevalent here, however, is the genre of bluegrass gospel such as found on "Dust to Dust," "The Key," and perhaps the best of them, "Everything Has Changed," but also included as an element in many of the other songs as well. Despite where you might be at in life, it seems like there's a little something for everyone here as Ulisse gives the listener a perfect mix of down-home cooking with a voice that leaves little else to be desired of it. If bluegrass is your thing, you can't miss with Donna Ulisse's latest offering.
~ Reviewed by Jeff Bouma

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Pulling My Hair Out

Working at the coffeehouse helps me to do a lot of thinking. Thinking about what makes people tick, thinking about what makes me tick, thinking about the kind of music that MOST people like (as if that were possible) and wondering how the coming Easter season affects different people. For some, Easter is just another holiday that allows people to decorate in some fun sort of ways. For others, Easter takes on a religious meaning on par with Christmas.

The question perplexing me this morning is this: how to make the Easter message of redemption and hope in Christ, relevant to all? For the seasoned Christian, how do you make this message fresh? For the new believer, how do you share this message in a way that informs without giving too little meat to the maturing Christian? For the non-believer, how do you make share the message in a way that's attractive? All these questions and yet I don't have a lot of answers. But then I'm reminded of the fact that it's God's job to stir the hearts of the people. It's not what I say or do that will have any lasting effect. It's God's work on the people that will have a lasting effect. I'm only a vessel being used by God who is doing His work through me.

When you think about things that way, it does take a lot of the pressure off. Knowing that what I need to do is be faithful to what God has asked me to do. Knowing that what God convicts me of sharing is really all that matters. Instead of focusing on meeting everyone's needs, then, my prayer is that God would help me find the one message to share and then share it.

There, now I feel better!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A huge thanks for all of those who made it out to Tower Coffee for our first ever night time opening! It was a great time and the place was packed to say the least! Also, we've got some big things planned for Tower's Grand Opening Week beginning on Monday, April 13. We'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Tower Coffee Open Tonight!

Don't forget! Tower Coffee is open tonight in celebration of St. Patrick's Day! Come and join the fun beginning at 6 PM - we'll be open until 9 PM.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Loving What You Do (or Doing What You Love)

We we're talking about the difficulty of school with our kids this afternoon over lunch and also about the reality of what comes after school--a job of some sorts (although in today's economy that's not even a certain thing anymore). On the surface, it would seems like life gets tougher and tougher and that one's learning while in school never really ends as an individual finds themselves in a job which requires some form of continuing education. The idea of more school for my kids is especially repulsive as of late. So, what's the secret to getting through life if this is the way it works?

It's finding something that you love to do. Another way we could say it is that it's doing that which you love the most.

God has wired each of us a certain way and I'm confident God want's us doing that one thing that gets us up in the morning and that keeps us up late at night sometimes too. And I'm so thankful that I've found that! I honestly love what I do. I love pastoring. I love preparing weekly sermons. I love meeting new people. I love leading and being part of small groups.

I've had much and I've had little when it comes to money and I would much rather have little and love what I'm doing than to be miserable and bored with much. I think that's a valuable lesson for any kid whose pursuing their vocation after school. Find something your jazzed about, not something that you think will make you the most money. While money does help pay the bills, it truly isn't everything and it certainly will never be the "final answer" in life.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

U2's latest: No Line on the Horizon

Leading up to the latest release from legendary rockers U2 there was a lot of talk about how they were 'experimenting' in the studios like never before. However, after a couple of listens, U2 seems like the same old U2 here, picking up where they left off on their last recording, "How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb." The craziest sound here is on their opening single: "Get on Your Boots," but even then we've heard such ear candy before from this Irish foursome.

Honestly, I'm not sure u2, and the talented crop of musicians that make up the band, not to mention the acclaimed producers that they manage to find (i.e. Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois), could ever make a bad record. Even their worst effort would be better than much that is peddled today as music. Nevertheless, I think it's fair to say that this isn't their strongest effort. While I'm confident the sound will grow on me with repeated listens, what this album seems to lack are songs that make you want to listen again and again and again.

Yes, there are some. For instance, Magnificent is the best song on the album and probably should be their next single. It's a great song on many levels. Musically, it just sounds good- even adding a few synthesizers at the beginning to wet my appetite. Lyrically, it seems to lift up God as "The Magnificent," as Bono sings: "Only love, only love can leave such a mark / but only love, only love unites our hearts / Justify till we die, you and I will magnify / The Magnificent." Good stuff to say the least. Still, I'm left wanting more.

In a recent article that I read, one theologian has called this the 'Most Thoroughly Christian' project by U2 to date. It seems like they say this about every U2 record that comes out. In fact, Christian bookstores have carried U2's music for the last several years. But, suddenly they're gone? Why? Could it be the "s...." word in the final song here, Cedars of Lebanon? (more on this later)

But, I'm curious what you think. Is this the most Christian of all the U2 recordings to date? Have a listen and let me know. You can find it for as little as $3.99 on Amazon as a download or $9.99 for a hard-copy from Best Buy.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Skating Backwards

It had to have been over twenty years since I last put on a pair of roller skates but there I was Sunday after church, lacing them up for a few trips around the local skating rink. Of course, I wasn't on my own, we had a good size group from our church there as well, including the hundreds of others that were there for the open skate. Needless to say, this made for a large crowd in rather small place.

For me anyway, skating is like riding a bike. While I won't name any names, I can't say the same about most people in our church. It's a small miracle that we didn't have to call an ambulance after seeing some of the falls that I saw! This, of course, even included my very own kids. My oldest son Mitchell is a pretty good skater but my other four (I won't count Seth here since he's a little small to be skating) aren't quite so hot. As I was teaching my son Zachary by practically holding him up as he labored around the rink trying to make sense of shoes that have wheels on them (not very safe some might say), Zach and I were run over. What I mean is that Zach went flying and I nearly lost my balance and went down. And I saw it happening out of the corner of my eye, the guy was skating backwards of all things when he ran right smack into us. While he was very apologetic and concerned for Zachary (who was fine and managed to get right back up), I honestly wanted to let the guy have it. There I was trying to teach my six-year old how to skate and this guy thinks he can skate backwards - when he really can't - and runs right into us!

While my anger eventually faded, this guy skating backwards didn't. Throughout the entire three hours we were there, this guy skated backwards. The last time I saw him skating backwards, he ran right into another of our church members and actually went flying. At that moment, I have to admit that I was smiling (after checking to make sure he was alright of course).

I share all of this because I think a lot of us "skate backwards" in life. What I mean is that we take our eyes of God - who should be our focus - and we look in all the wrong places and skate in all the wrong directions for our fulfillment. The result is quite often a crash of some sorts. You've been there, I've been there so none of us are exempt from this. Nevertheless, there's one way to fix this. Quit skating backwards and turn around. God is there and he's waiting for us to focus on Him and Him alone.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Music and Faith

Over the last few weeks, I've been writing about Bob Dylan and the role that faith has played in his music - a most interesting one to say the least. But his life and music is only one of thousands that mixes their faith and beliefs together. Really, if you listen to any "popular" music you can find songs that seem to be searching for answers to life's most perplexing problems. Here's the latest set of lyrics to The Fray's new album and single "You Found Me."

I found God on the corner of 1st and Amistad
Where the West was all but won
All alone, smoking his last cigarette
I said, "Where've you been?" He said, "Ask anything."

Where were you, when everything was falling apart.
All my days were spent by the telephone that never rang
And all I needed was a call that never came
To the corner of 1st and Amistad

Lost and insecure, you found me, you found me
Lying on the floor, surrounded, surrounded
Why'd you have to wait? Where were you? Where were you?
Just a little late, you found me, you found me.

But in the end everyone ends up alone
Losing her, the only one who's ever known
Who I am, who I'm not and who I wanna to be
No way to know how long she will be next to me

Lost and insecure, you found me, you found me

Lying on the floor, surrounded, surrounded
Why'd you have to wait? Where were you? Where were you?
Just a little late, you found me, you found me.

The early morning, the city breaks
And I've been calling for years and years and years
And you never left me no messages
You never sent me no letters
You got some kind of nerve taking all I want

Lost and insecure, you found me, you found me
Lying on the floor, Where were you? Where were you?

Lost and insecure, you found me, you found me
Lying on the floor, surrounded, surrounded
Why'd you have to wait? Where were you? Where were you?
Just a little late, you found me, you found me.

Why'd you have to wait, to find me, to find me?

It's interesting to note that The Fray is being marketed both in the secular market as well as in the Christian market. While the band mates have each expressed their Christian faith, they have chosen to make music that isn't your typical CCM fare.

In this song, you can sense some of the angst and anger with a God who seems to come after the fact. A God who comes after things have fallen apart. For me, the book of Job comes to mind. But just like the book of Job, God does answer.

As a Christian, I think we could argue that God is always there. After all, he is omnipresent.

Gotta go but it's interesting to me all the songs that actually deal with faith type issues.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Dylan Get's Saved (Part 3)

It's interesting that much is made about the faith of Bob Dylan and that many questions whether his turn towards the Christian faith (from his Jewish upbringing) was simply a farce. Still, one could argue that Dylan had been wrestling with Christianity quite some time before his more explicit Christian recordings. For instance, on the song "Long Ago, Far Away," Dylan opens and closes with the death of Jesus. Listen (okay maybe you can't listen but imagine that you're listening) to these words:

To preach of peace and brotherhood
Oh, what might be the cost!
A man he did it long ago
And they hung him on a cross
Long ago, far away
These things don't happen
No more, nowadays

When Dylan wrote this song in 1962, well before his conversion, he wasn't a Christian but I think we see hints of what's to come.

Then, on a later recording, 1997's Tell Tale Signs, Dylan writes the following on his song Trying to Get to Heaven."

Gonna sleep down in the parlor
And relive my dreams
I'll close my eyes and I wonder
If everything is as hollow as it seems
Some trains don't pull no gamblers
No midnight ramblers, like they did before
I been to Sugar Town, I shook the sugar down
Now I'm trying to get to heaven before they close the door

Here, Dylan seems to be wrestling with a life spent in the wrong places and wonders whether or not there's enough time to make things right in order to get into heaven.

So, well before and well after, Dylan has and seemingly continues to wrestle with the Christian Faith or at least faith in general. While he may not say a whole lot (Dylan doesn't do a lot of talking these days) he does let his music do the talking and his music seems to indicate his Christian faith is still intact. No, he's not a model of the Christian faith (who is?) but he seems to be on a journey which he hopes will one day end in the realms of heaven.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Tower Coffee Open!

It's official. Tower Coffee is now open for business! We are open from 7 AM until NOON so be sure to stop on in and get some freshly brewed coffee or an assortment of other espresso drinks. Don't be shy! We'd love to see you. We'll have a Grand Opening in a few weeks.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Dylan Get's Saved (Part 2)

Much could be said about the overall library of Bob Dylan's music. While I'm somewhat a fan of Dylan, I'm by no means the Dylan expert. I leave that label for the real experts, such as those who've actually listened to his corpus of music in it's entirety. Stephen Webb, in his book that I've been reading titled "Dylan Redeemed," suggests that when one looks at the whole of Dylan's recordings, one finds the origins of what would later become Dylan's three Christian recordings. In other words, Webb is saying that while his earlier music may not have been labeled "Christian," there is no small amount of theology therein. While Dylan didn't have his born again experience until the late seventies, the foundation for his soon to be Christian faith can be found in many of his earlier songs. So, even though many Dylan fans might be less than excited by such a claim, it's pretty hard to ignore when one truly gives some of his earlier records a spin. I'll touch on some of those in the days ahead...

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Dylan Gets Saved

One of my goals for this year was to read more and to do so from a variety of different genres (both fiction and non-fiction). As a result, I've been blogging less even though one of my other goals is to write more. Balance has always been tough for me. Anyway, one of those books I'm currently reading is a book about Bob Dylan called "Dylan Redeemed." Here, the author chronicles Dylan's three so-called "Christian" albums from the late seventies and into the early eighties. His first, 1979’s “Slow Train Coming,” is more Christian than much of what passes as Christian music today. Ironically, however, Bob Dylan’s three albums have never been embraced by the Christian community as such. Even more interesting is that for many of the Dylan devoted followers, they too failed to embrace these three albums. In fact, it brought no small amount of disdain and disgust as many of these Dylan devotees saw their once iconic and liberal minded musical companion turn into a hell-bent conservative virtually overnight. What’s a fan to do?

Dylan has always lived with a veil of secrecy surrounding his life but during this period, there is no doubt that Christianity for him was real, and became something he expressed through his music.

I’ll say more about this period in Dylan’s life in the days ahead.

Stay tuned.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Back On Our Feet

Sorry for not posting in a while. The Bouma's are back on our feet (figuratively and literally) and adjusting to life with a new little one. To be fair to my wonderful, beautiful, and hard-working wife, she has the brunt of the work with Seth. Since she's breastfeeding, I can't help a whole lot with the feeding. Sure, I try to change a diaper every now and then, but Cara does 95 percent of even that.

Thanks for all the diapers and other wonderful gifts that you've blessed us with in the recent days. We feel especially blessed and are grateful that diapers will not be a problem for us for quite a while.

Have a blessed week!

Friday, January 09, 2009

More Pictures

Here's some more pictures of the latest edition to the Bouma family.

Thursday, January 08, 2009


There's something beautiful about the word "home," isn't there? Yes, we like to get away every now and then but for most of us, it's always a comforting thing to come home. It's even better to come home when you've been at, of all places, the hospital. A few weeks ago, with our daughter Joy in when her appendix burst, all she wanted was to go home. And we as parents just wanted to go home too. And what a wonderful thing it was when the doctors came in telling her she was ready to go home!

All this to say, Cara is now home! Only 36 hours after giving birth to numero six, Cara packed up her things this morning and was given the formal release just after lunch. Thanks for all of your prayers for a safe delivery as well as for the health of little Seth Michael. After the x-ray, it was determined that his clavicle wasn't broke after all. He's home now and we're busy trying to adjust once again to having a little one who requires someone's constant attention. It's fun though, and with a big family like ours, there's many hands to lend a helping hand when need be.

We look forward to seeing you all very soon!

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Here's some pictures of Seth Michael Bouma. He was 6 pounds even with a full head of hair. He's having x -rays later today to see if he's broken his clavical bone from the "speedy delivery," - apparently a common sort of thing to happen. Otherwise, everyone is doing fine. I'm taking the kids up tonight to see Cara and their new little brother.

Exciting times to say the least!

Waiting to Push

We are sitting at the hospital as I write this, waiting for the doctor to come in so that Cara can finally start pushing. Unlike most times, this time we had enough time to get an epideral to help with the pain of labor.

Updates will follow.

Friday, January 02, 2009

My New Year's Goals

Most of the time, I'm dead set against making any sort of New Year's Resolutions. Yes, I've done it and like most, I've not lived up to them very well. The problem with resolutions - especially once they are verbalized - is that others will soon remind you how you've so quickly fallen off of the wagon. The main reason we fail, as I see it (and have experienced it), is that we're not truly passionate about it. We really haven't bought into what we are attempting to do (or not do). Yes, we can trick ourselves into being passionate about exercising for a season, but if we're really not wired to exercise in the manner we've chosen, many of us will slowly fade back into our previous way of living.

A couple of years ago, someone graciously purchased our family a 6 month membership at the local YMCA. It was very kind and considerate and we used it early and often as a family. However, as our 6 months was coming to an end, our collective desire as a family to go swim and go exercise began to wane. It just wasn't us. Our kids would rather play basketball, football, baseball (any sport) outside in our yard as opposed to going to the local gym to do so. I would much rather play softball with a bunch of guys (as I did and still hope to continue) than get up at 6 AM to go lift some weights by myself.

All this to say, don't make resolutions you know in your heart of hearts you'll never keep. Set goals instead. If it's to lose weight, find a way you can lose weight that fits who you are. If you love video games, go get the Wii and the Wii fit game and go for it. If you like pick up basketball, find a local league to be part of where you can get your weekly dose of exercise. If you simply need to eat less food, find a unique way that allows YOU to eat less food.

I have many things I'd like to do this year but they aren't resolutions. They're goals or dreams that I have that I hope to achieve. Here's a couple of them that I have and maybe you'd like to have as well. If nothing else, perhaps they'll get you started on coming up with your own unique set of goals.

Read more ~ I feel like I really slacked in this area in 2008 so I want to set some acheivable reading goals for this year.

Listen more ~ I don't listen very well, quite frankly. I need to listen more to God and I need to be a better listener to my wife and kids.

Write more ~ I really love to write but haven't done a whole lot of this lately. One of my goals this year is to write a short story and get it published somewhere.