March 31, 2010

"Hometown Stranger"

My review of Nightjar's debut album "Hometown Stranger" is long overdue. Thanks to @drchess for giving me the chance to checkout their new album. Having had the chance to listen through the album a couple times, I've found myself liking it a little more each time. The album has an 80's rock/folk/Americana feel to it that keeps you intrigued with edgy lead vocals and smooth background harmonies.

My favorite track on "Hometown Stranger" was solidified by the horn section on 'Sweet Brandywine'.

I missed the CD release show that took place at Radio Radio on 3/27 but from what I have read, it was a great show. I'm looking forward to the chance to see them live. Their two upcoming shows are on 4/5 at Butler University for a Haiti Relief Benefit and on 5/5 again at Radio Radio, maybe I'll see you there.

March 28, 2010


We all want to be around people we think are wise because we hope some of their wisdom will rub off on us, and maybe it does? Wisdom can take many forms but typically it comes to life in one these three ways:

1) thought: gaining of knowledge
2) discussion: teaching, encouraging and accountability (sometimes that means knowing when to be silent, Job 13:5)
3) action: the way we conduct ourselves in everyday life (if we are truly wise, we'll prove it by the way we act, Matthew 11:19)

A few other thoughts...
-We read a lot about the wisdom of King Solomon (I Kings 3; 10:23-25) and how great it was and yet, Jesus is greater still (Matthew 12:42).

-Jesus is Wisdom (Matthew 11:2-19).

-Wisdom beckons us to follow (Matthew 11:25-30).

March 22, 2010

Thoughts for Lent Part 4

As the journey continues...

O God our Father, renew our spirits and draw our hearts to thyself, that our work may not be to us a burden but a delight, and give us such love to thee as may sweeten our obedience. Help us that we may serve thee with the cheerfulness and gladness of children, delighting ourselves in thee and rejoicing in all that is to the honor of thy name; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

~From The Book of Worship

-Psalm 32 (how are you handling the weight of sin in your life? don't miss that confession & forgiveness can lighten the burden of guilt.)
-Colossians 3:1-17 (what is your source of life?)
-Romans 8:31-39 (find hope in the fact that Jesus is in the presence of God interceding on our behalf.)
-Philippians 3:8-14 (are you allowing Christ to take hold of your life?)

An act of pure faith is the death of what we love most so it may be offered to the loved one because only love is stronger than death...

At the ultimate moment of trial, when we try to pierce the invisible, with the sharpened spear of every possibility we can find, we realize that the three theological virtues - faith, hope, and charity - are really only one, and they have such a power of penetration that they could disrupt the entire universe.

~From The God Who Comes by Carlo Carretto

Ways to Follow and Connect

I know it has been a few days since my last post, for that I apologize. I am currently taking an Inductive Bible Study class through the Gospel of Matthew that is eating up a decent chunk of my time. I always have delusions of grandeur that I will post more often, which is still my goal but it has suffered lately. There are a couple ways that will make it easier for you to follow what's happening here:

  • You can subscribe to the RSS feed of posts and comments (which you can find to the left or click here) and get updates automatically of new content
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I hope to be posting more often and to be connecting with you soon. Thanks to all of you that take some time to check out A Journeyman's Catalog!

March 14, 2010


I preached this morning (3/14/10) at our Sunrise Campus a sermon from Mark 9:2-8 on the Transfiguration (the text and title had already been chosen). Here's my outline.



Thoughts on the Transfiguration...Mark 9:2-8
-God reveals a little more of His glory through Jesus by turning the lights up.

-Jesus did not change in substance, it wasn't as if He became more divine. His divinity had been present, just on a dimmer.

-Moses and Elijah show up representing the Law and the Prophets. Notice that they came to talk with Jesus, to learn from Him which further shows that the Law and Prophets find their fulfillment in Christ.

-Have you ever experienced those moments of awkward silence when you know someone should say something but no one really knows what to say? This is somewhat similar to how Peter, James and John felt except that they were freaked out after having seen Jesus transfigured before their eyes.

-Peter's suggestion of building "shelters" for Jesus, Moses and Elijah is not unlike something we would read in the Old Testament. We read of Noah, Abram, Jacob, etc. building "altars" to mark significant places where God was encountered as ways to honor and remember. Peter didn't know what to say so he went with this.

-Notice the connection to Jesus' baptism when He hears a voice from heaven saying, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased." And on top of the mountain the voice says, "This is my son, whom I love. Listen to him!" The first time the voice was for Jesus only, the second time it was for those who were present.

-Might the Transfiguration be the point at which that world and our world come closest?

A Seed of Faith...Matthew 17:9, 14-20
-Jesus tells His disciples if they only had faith the size of a mustard seed they could move mountains right after He had just come down from the Transfiguration.

-It's not faith alone that moves the mountain, it is faith in the God who is bigger than the mountain!

-We need to view our mountains (disappointments, struggles, failures) in the light of God's glory revealed in Christ on that mountain.

-Not only does God desire to carry our burdens, He is strong enough to do so (I Peter 5:6-7).

March 10, 2010

Thoughts for Lent Part 3

Hoping that your journey to the Cross and empty tomb is proving to be meaningful for you. Here are a couple resources and thoughts you may find interesting along the way.

Lord God, you who are the source of all truth, wisdom, justice, and love, lead me through this time of worship and throughout this day of service to you. Help me constantly to rest my life upon the eternal foundations of your love and presence. Save me from haste and confusion, from wrongful desire, and the net of evil. Through the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, enlighten, instruct, and guide me all the day long. In the name of Jesus. Amen

-Hebrews 2:1-18 (how often we forget that we have a savior who can relate to us, even to the point of sharing in our sufferings. how might your sufferings be bringing about perfection in your faith?)
-Psalm 103:1-13 (what might your life look like without Christ in it? what might your life look like with Christ in it?)
-Isaiah 55 (are you spending your time, energy, and resources on the things that really matter?)


The question, you see, is not to prepare but to live in a state of ongoing preparedness so that, when someone who is drowning in the world comes into your world, you are ready to reach out and help. It may be at four o'clock, six o'clock, or nine o'clock. One time you call it preaching, the next time teaching, then counseling, or later administration. But let them be part of your life in God--that's ministering.

~From "Time Enough to Minister" by Henri J. M. Nouwen in Leadership (1982)
In fact, if you want to find out how proud you are, the easiest way is to ask yourself, "How much do I dislike it when other people snub me, or refuse to take any notice of me, or shove their oar in, or patronize me, or show off?" The point is that each person's pride is in competition with everyone else's pride. It is because I wanted to be the big noise at the party that I am so annoyed at someone else being the big noise. Two of a trade never agree. Now what you want to get clear is that Pride is essentially competitive--is competitive by its very nature--while the other vices are competitive only, so to speak, by accident. Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man.

~From The Joyful Christian by C.S. Lewis
Other Resources
-"2 Stories": A daily devotional from Asbury Theological Seminary

March 4, 2010

Gospel of Mark: Chapters 2-4

Week two of our study through Mark's Gospel took place last night. It's tough to cover three chapters in an hour's time so I highlighted a few passages that jumped out to me as I spent time preparing. There was plenty of great discussion and even a question or two that came up, one of which surrounded a tricky passage I'll try to address. As always, feel free to share your questions and comments.

Chapter 2
Vs 1-12 - The phrase "your sins are forgiven" and the connection to the paralytic's healing implies a relationship between sin and sickness, which was not an uncommon Jewish thought though this is not Mark's intent in sharing this story. Rather, Mark is again showing that Jesus is the strong Son of God who not only has the power to heal but the power to forgive sins. Which seems to fit well with the phrase Jesus uses to describe himself as the "Son of Man", which in later Judaism was used for a superhuman being that comes on the clouds of heaven. Another way in which Jesus' authority is conveyed.

Vs 13-17 - Being reminded that Mark had Gentiles in mind when writing his Gospel, the word "sat" in Greek is literally "reclined" which describes a familiar eating style for the Gentiles. In this passage we read that Jesus was sharing a meal with sinners and the Pharisees take issue with this. Isn't this us in the church sometimes? We fail to see that this story is describing Jesus' willingness to interact with us, the "sick" and "sinner", by judging others based on who they hang out with or call their friends. Jesus said that it is the sick who need a doctor which makes me think the Church should look more like a hospital than a country club.

Chapter 3
Vs 31-35 - It can be easy to read different passages in the Gospels where Jesus interacts with his family or talks about family in general (Matthew 10:37-38) and get a little defensive or upset. Sometimes it seems that Jesus doesn't care very much about family, especially when we read passages like this which make it seem as though he is ignoring his mother and brothers. This is certainly not what Jesus is saying and reading it that way may mean we are reading it too literally. I think the point that Jesus is trying to make instead is that the idea of family is much broader than a physical relationship, it is spiritual. Not only this but the very best way to love your family and neighbors is to love God first.

Chapter 4
Vs 1-20 - A parable that many of us have read or heard before. The challenge for us is to think about how we are making our "soil" better. In what ways are we preparing our souls to receive the seeds that God wants to plant in order that they might grow and bear fruit "thirty and sixty and a hundredfold"?

Vs 26-29 - I particularly like vs 27 because the farmer doesn't always know how the seed grows, it just does. So often as Christians we "plant seeds" and either a) don't even know it or b) see someone's faith grow but we're not quite sure how it got there in the first place. Maybe the main reason I like this short parable is because it emphasizes the partnership with the Holy Spirit. I sometimes forget that the Holy Spirit is at work in people's lives and fall into the trap of thinking it's all up to me, when it's clearly not! And thank God that it doesn't depend on just you and me.

A Tricky Passage
Vs 4:10-12 - At first glance this passage seems to convey a sense of exclusiveness and even a level of unfairness to those on the outside. First, I think it is helpful to look at Matthew's account of this story (Matthew 13:10-17) for a more in-depth reading of the prophecy from Isaiah (Isaiah 6:9-10). Second, I think it's important to keep in mind that Jesus wanted to make the Truth easier to understand, not more confusing (Mark 4:21-25), hence the reason that he taught using parables. Third, I think often we want to read a tone of judgment into this passage. While there is a judgment that is being described, it should be noted that it is a judgment that one brings upon himself or herself through unbelief and even outright rejection of Christ's message. This is what Isaiah's prophecy speaks of and what Paul mentions in Romans 16:25-26. Lastly, we cannot miss the faith factor in all of this. What I mean by this is that the Gospel message, especially for early Gentile Christians, began with a faith relationship because without that as the foundation, the whole message would be foolishness. Paul also talks a lot about this in his first letter to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 1:18-3:1). So, there's an attempt at it at least....

March 3, 2010

The Avett Brothers

Until a few months ago I had never heard of The Avett Brothers but thanks to a good friend (@bhsmith1) I was introduced to their music. Not only have I become a fan of their tunes but I had the chance to see their show this past Sunday night (2/28) at the Murat Centre Egyptian Room in downtown Indianapolis.

Decent venue but honestly, the show these guys put on made the venue irrelevant. Not only was the opening act one of the best openers I have seen, The Low Anthem, but the show overall was solid. The mix was perfect, the guys were energized and the set list was everything I was hoping it might be. A total of 21 songs with each song full of passion and energy that left me wanting more.

Their style of bluegrass mixed with folky rock combined with vocal harmonies that only brothers can provide was powerful. You could feel the vulnerability and passion in their lyrics, hear it in their voices and see it on their faces. It was a beautiful reminder to me of God's ability to use music to connect with a person, even the "secular" kind. I like to think that God is able to use good music as well as "Christian" music. I walked away from that show wishing it wasn't over and feeling like I had just experienced church. I look forward to seeing them again, hopefully sooner as opposed to later.

March 2, 2010

Thoughts for Lent Part 2

A few thoughts that I pray will encourage and challenge you on your Lenten journey. As always, feel free to share.

Lord of life and love, help us to worship thee in the holiness of beauty, that some beauty of holiness may appear in us. Quiet our souls in thy presence with the stillness of a wise trust. Lift us above dark moods, and the shadow of sin, that we may find thy will for our lives; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

~From The Book of Worship

-Psalm 42 (what does your heart thirst for? do you seek God to quench that thirst?)
-John 6:22-40 (when people look at your life, do they see bread of life or bread that is stale?)
-James 1:2-18 (are you finding joy in the development of perseverance? what if, we used the sufferings we faced as ways to connect with others? what message might that send about the Gospel?)


There is no Christian who is not in the same case as the disciples. Every Christian ought to say to the Savior as humbly as they: 'Lord teach us to pray.' Ah! If we were only convinced of our ignorance and of our need of a Teacher like Jesus Christ! If we would only approach him with confidence, asking him to teach us himself and desiring to be taught by his grace how to converse with God! How soon we should be skilled in it and how many of its secrets we should discover! Do not let us say that we know how to pray the prayer they learned from him. We may know the words, but without grace we cannot understand the meaning and we cannot ask or receive what it expresses.
~From How to Pray by Jean-Nicholas Grou

March 1, 2010

Don't Miss Out

If you are a Christian, in exactly 34 days you will have an opportunity that you really don't want to miss out on. It's as if every year the calendar lays in our laps the chance to tell someone about the Easter story. I know for many of us sharing our faith is not something that comes easily but I what other point in the year is the story laid out so simply for us to share with others? Don't get me wrong, Christmas is important (and certainly one of my favorite times of year) but we have to fight with credit cards, presents and consumerism to share our part of the story. Not as much with Easter.

My challenge for you is to begin preparing now in order to take advantage of the opportunity that will present itself in just a few short weeks. Ask God for opportunities to share the Easter Story and not to miss them when they come. If you've been looking for an "excuse" to invite someone to church, Easter just might be it.