Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Roman Forum

Having just spent a week in Tuscany with Jane for our 28th anniversary I've been flooded with so many thoughts and emotions. However due to Facebook, I've been neglecting posts here with daily posts there and photos, but need to get back to blogsville. :) I'll be posting photos here from Italy and remember you can always click on them for a "bit" larger 1024 version.

Reading the history of the Roman Forum (shown partly at left) and the interesting concept of the Vestal Virgins this morning, I'm reminded again that before Christs arrival, men tried very hard to create gods to fill that empty void in their lives with religious practices and sacrifices. Some honest , some very sick, but all, as the Hebrews were following, not following and following again Jehovah; waiting for Yeshua Messiah. While on the other continents of the world, men were as well seeking to fill that void with whatever made sense based upon their cultures, upbringing and personal moralities.

We sure see Americanized, NIV Christianity from CBN,TBN,GOD,ETWN and our denominations differently than the rest of the world sees it and views us. For us it appears to be pretty clean cut. With rules, regulations and exhortations on how each denomination see's it's believers to play out faith. Annually creating themes and slogans and bullet points and, and, and ways to grow "our" church while our neighbors continue to be lost, hurting and we turn the care of the homeless and widows and orphans over to the state. I wonder if God would or will bless the church ever again enough financially to take care of the widows and orphans if we had the passion and vision and leadership to do it? Or does God know mens hearts and would we just say "wow, what a super natural crop, I think I'll build bigger barns to hold it" and start a new building program with it... Forgive me Lord for I am part of that problem. Change begins with revelation so reveal to me and convict my heart till I do something Lord other than write, point fingers and talk about it like the pharisees were so great at.

With that said, I'm reminded of a couple obscure paintings I found in old basements of underground churches in Sienna that reminded me that the church has imho become focused to inward with the exception of missions trips. (I think many western missions trips should be re-named anyway as something more western like vacationjesus tours). I don't take away from the fact that just about every American who goes on a mission trip comes back changed and with a greater sense of how blessed "they" are to be living here, and now want to do more, but when I think of missionaries over the centuries, I don't think of bus trips to drop clothes off in foreign lands. I read the other month from a foreign missionary in Africa that the poor and so many of the villages live each day, week and year waiting and viewing calendars for the various denominations and churches to come feed them and cloth them for a certain amount of weeks a year when the weather is best and then leave for another year.
Thank you God for those faithful to live and serve amongst the people, to be living salt and light, teaching and mentoring life skills to those less fortunate, backed by the greater church.

So what was the good smaritan. What was their religion, their passion, their giftings, their motives. I love the other person walking away in this picture. Is this the traditional church or the heathen? I also love the ass in the background that shows that the Good Smaritan was on business and took time out to go out of their way to help. I was also fascinated by the background landscape which looks almost Spanish Western. What a painting, and to think it was about 10feet wide and 5ft tall many floors down in a dark room of an old monastery seen by very few. Talking with a friend this morning about this painting, he asked me, "if you are the good smaritan there, what is the question that the hurting person is asking you right there, and what are you gonna do about it when you get up from there, climb back on your ass to do your business and then get off your "donkey" down the road?

I think I'm gonna start by going to go look for my old 5 yr business plans to build bigger and better barns when the crops come in. ie: houses, cars, toys.

Monday, September 28, 2009


So today I received a letter from a bank that Cabellas contracted with. Canceling my card.
My card was paid up, I've had no balance for months, nor have charged there in 6 mo.
Cabellas didn't contact me.... but some bank did that they contracted with. Bad move boys and girls.

I remember shopping there one day a number of years ago and some guy says, let us give you a Cabellas card sir. You'll get 20% off your purchases today. Well that was a day I was prepping for a Yellowstone business and fly fishing trip and getting the card was going to save us a few hundred.
So 5 Min. later I have a Cabella's card with a 16k line of credit (so I can buy a boat I guess, if I were that stupid)lol.

Well I call the bank and they tell me that my credit score dropped below 700, and that keeps me from having an account with "Worlds Formost Bank" and their new quarterly benchmarks.
Okdoke. No point arguing with them, Cabella's was the source.
So I call Cabella's and they tell me that they can give me the "Formost Bank" 800 number.
Can you say run around circle jerk 5 times real fast. Well I'm sorry to say, Cabella will not get my business again. I told them that in this economic time of trying to people get to purchase anything, this was not a real productive idea, and they should re-evalute this thinking.
After all, it's not what you do It's how you do it. So it's back to ordering gear online at the best price instead of driving 50 miles round trip, and a few hours to walk through a beautiful store.

So it is in the ebb and flow of life. Those who serve the best, get the most clients.

Thursday, July 16, 2009


This photo is a picture I took on Ft. Sumpter. This flag flew over the Ft. on the first day of the Civil War. Oh the 10's of thousands of lives lost for the freedoms of so few but for the principals we hold dear for all.

I found a little book in my office that was left by a previous worship director. Seasons of Change by Dr. Myles Munroe.

His opinions about Slavery, Missions Fields, Missionaries, Enslavement and any groups ability to allow others to "take care of them" instead of learning to be responsible and 1st take care of themselves and 2nd begin taking care of others is pretty profound. It sure seems that our nation has elected officials into office and decided that "they" know best and will just do the right thing. I'm not sure if the average American is so overwhelmed with their own lives and families that they can't "go there" and just watch the news each night and say "it's only 4 years, and they promised to bring hope and change and compassion and transparency. It's gotta be better than the last 8".
Dear Jesus please wake up THIS nation's independents and moderates to realize what's really happening here. As Dr. Munroe would say "

What is freedom. Nobody should ever be given the privilege of ascribing to you worth. If you get your value from someone, (or a group) they can determine how much you are worth. In fact, the real issue is not "civil rights" but human rights. Human rights are inherent in God's creation of man; civil rights is man's opinion of that human being. Dr. Myles Munroe "Seasons of Change". P.71

We are allowing our elected officials to sell our nation into slavery to itself and other nations.

I will admit I'm an independent conservative who has voted for more conservatives than liberals over the decades and voting for Jimmy Carter is the one vote I'm now ashamed of 30 years later. In my youth because he was "born again" (I read that in a Larry Flynt Penthouse article)
I thought that was a good enough reason to vote for him. That was as misguided as reading the Larry Flynt article. I remember buying the magazine - asking what page the article started on - thumbing through the edge of the page numbers and cutting it out of the magazine so I could photostat the article and have it for other friends to read apart from getting your mind pumped up with an artificial injection of what love Isn't.

Back to Freedom. New conservative media superstar Glen Beck is crying out like John the Baptist every day. Pleading with Americans to take their country and government back. So he started the neighborhood parties concept and tea parties, and is screaming like a fool to the wind.

I'm afraid it might be to late. I'm afraid that God may have just said - like he said to Israel - "Ok, you want a king instead of me, so be it. Here's what's gonna happen because of it, but hey I love you and it's your choice. I'll still be here when you fall". And fall we just may. Beyond our wildest expectations. True leaders lead not for personal gain but for the sake of others. Do you see ANY of that in Washington. Is it even possible with the way the political systems are set up and paid for. The politicians become instant slaves to their "funders" and we in turn become slaves to our Govt. who will become our "funders" of everything "good" and for the sake of "all" because it's "fairer".

I hope you're praying each night and day for a miracle. God will always be there and He will always make good for those called according to His purpose and those who humble themselves and pray and turn from their "personal' wicked ways. His promises are true, each and every one, but the consequences of our lack of action in the natural right now, I'm afraid will change our nations foundational under pinnings and turn us from freedom to enslavement.
Thank you Father that our hope and future are not found here, but help us to not lose sight of the responsibilies we have in maintaining our libertys as a nation. God bless those serving for our freedoms, obeying orders and maintaining that high standard around the globe.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Mississippi Dreams

I've always wanted to fish for Smallie's on the Mississippi, but with such a large river, I never felt comfortable taking my float tube down it without some instruction. It's Kind of like trying to navigate life without your bible. Pretty overwhelming and lot's of places to get hurt if you don't know how to avoid them.
Anyway, my old best friend Bruce: (Who I've been flyfishing with for almost 30 years) drove up from Nashville and for his birthday, I hired us the US Smallmouth fly fishing guru. (as he would explain to us) to drift us from Becker to Monticello. Around 5 or 6 miles of world class Small mouth waters. Never deeper than 6 feet and usually 2 or 3. Guide Tim Holshlag talked for 8 hours straight about Small mouth around the world. He worked the boat and his verbal skills like Wayne Newton in Vegas on a Sat. night show. Butta....
The photo below was the first fish. A nice 15" bronze back.
We each caught 10 in the 14 to 161/2 range and I lost two over 19 inches that I swore I set the hook hard enough to kill most other fish..., but after a minute or two of fighting, they would just bear down, down stream and put on the brakes, not allowing you to reel them while your rod is bent over and your forearm is burning from the pressure of being above your head holding a 9ft bent over rod. Then in a flash they turn sideways and pop out your barbless streamer or popper.
Still a lot of fun to get those big ones one and see them cross over and under the boat at will as if to say 'you may think you have me buddy, but I'm playing iwth YOU."
Eight hours in 98 degree heat, and a gallon of water will still not hydrate you enough.
Sure would have loved to eat a few of them that day, but it's those catch and release rules that keep world class fish in a river growing larger and larger with more and more hook scars.
I heard one story by Tim, of a large 21" grandpa that was blind in one eye from a few years ago and he caught that same lunker 4 times in one season. How fun and what an honor to release him back to his neighborhood. So there it was, the day came and went and I'm already dreaming of getting a Tim Holschlag custom built 8wt. smallie rod and tying a bunch of his fly patterns.
Now that I know the lay of the land, I'll be back there fishing that stretch of water in the next few weeks in my float tube, looking for more ways to say thank you God for all the beauty you've created for us to enjoy and relax with. Here's hoping your hobbies and passions draw you closer to Him who created it all for us to enjoy and thank Him for.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Bonding

There is something about guys eating meat, sitting around a campfire and getting real. Whatever the accoutrements are - doesn't really matter. What matters is, getting real. It's hard for guys to do this in public. They are not really touchy feeley by nature. So to get a bunch of poor musicians together who have Faith in Christ as a common bond, and who regularly work in a church environment, you can get a lot of very serious conversations going.
No, not one drummer joke was passed, only complements to Timmy Z's rounded skill sets on a kit. Part of me wishes we could have church like this. Well actually it was church without walls with hats and jackets. Three or four of Ricks neighbors just wandered into the firepit and sat and listened to our salty conversations about living lives of faith in the arts, in a broken world and imperfect church. How good it was. I'm thankful everyday for the artists who work, and practice, and woodshed to hone thier skills to honor the Father in their efforts. To show Him that they are trying to be better stewards each day with the gifts they were given. Not just sitting on their base talent. How great it would be some day when the church makes a commitment and re-hires musicians and artists full time to worship God day and night, lead worship and teach worship in the church. Let it be so Lord, for You are worthy of it all.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Good Friday ?

There just seems to be something wrong with the words "Good Friday".
Seems pretty selfish to even say it out loud to me. Should be "Thank You Friday" or "Not Worthy Friday".

Well last night I did a Good Friday service with only my family. Five of us on the platform. Marissa 26 on concert harp and vocals, Jamison 19 on percussion and vocals, Jordan 12 on percussion, Jane "always 19 in my dreams" on vocals and myself on guitar and keys. I remember commenting how wonderful it was to look out and see full families sitting all dressed up, sharing, and learning together, again, about the great price paid for our eternal freedom.

I spent two days recording and editing photos and text for the video backgrounds to get exactly what I wanted behind the platform. 100 candles, two 9ft crosses lit with red fabric and all lights out in the sanctuary gave it the feel I so wanted.

Well, technically it was a nightmare. My son was lost in traffic, we didn't get time to rehearse at all. My in ears were not functioning, I couldn't get my personal projector to turn on for backgrounds, the church office computer would not print a CCLI chart with flash that I needed, My piano mic would not turn on, and on and on. That's the way it is much of the time when you're leading and in charge. I'm not attempting to complain, just explain that I felt for the first time in a long time a real sense of let down. That I didn't properly prepare my troops and have them all locked and loaded for battle. You see it's not your musicians and volunteers faults when things go awry. It's the leaders. End of story. We either have them ready with the correct amount of setup time and tools needed to do the job so they can have it done and ready in time, or things fail and eveyone feels bad.
So with that said, today I've been going back over my methods and pre-planning. Taking mental notes of how to make things better and smoother. It was then that my phone rang, and a dear friend Mark answered. "Hey Craig, didn't want the day to go by without telling you that last nights "Good Friday" service was the most intimate and sensitive service I've ever been to. In case no one told you, I wanted you to know how moved I was, and how blessed it was to see your family worshiping together".

Well, Last night after the service and tear down and re-set for our Sunday services, I was having dinner with my family and son in law. When asked about the earlier service, I said "how I feel doesn't really matter. What matters is that God did what only He could do tonight".
We don't know what that is and if we measure it in the natural, we can be very mistaken.

So then here today Mark calls, and without knowing, re-affirms my faith that God works in our weakness and in spite of ourselves. We give our best efforts, we give them to Him.
We say "Your will be done", and then we must move on to the next assignment and log the corrections.

So tomorrow is Easter Sunday. Millions of believers will be shouting "He Is Risen" along with the host of heaven shouting "Daahhhh". (never thought of that one till right now:) ) and the enemies of our souls plugging their ears! Hallelujah!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


Well my little brother turned 40 this month. He always dreamed of skiing out west, but being a realist with 3 young kids he figured Lutsen, would be good enough. So after 25 years of dreaming about it, he asked me to go be his ski bum partner for two days. Can't fully tell you how fun it is to see someone living their dreams. I hope you have the chance to experience yours and or someone else's dreams some time. So much fun. And then there was the 48 hours of nonstop skiing. with a coca-cola break (once!). I will now admit that you can lose 10 pounds in 48hours if you exercise 15 hrs. of it. Had a great conversation at the chalet with a couple from Alaska who were pretty faith un-friendly. It was great to share the "love" of Christ by just being real with folks and watching them say 'hmmm maybe a life of faith isn't that weird as I thought it was". Thank you Lord for fresh powder and soft landings:)

Monday, February 23, 2009

Breaking Bread

Well, It's been a bit since my last check in. Since I've started working with another church worship department (River of Life EFC), in Elk River MN. , most spare time has been re-shifted to that process of discovery, evaluation and potential solutions.

I'm spending more time these days with Jordan our 12 year old, trying to practice what I preach about family before ministry. Cant' get that time back.
Well the photo above is last night after a worship event at the church called "Reign Down".
There were 25 musicans, singers, Tech crew, video and recording folks that should be in this picture but in the "process" we never thought about a photo until 10pm when there were just a few left in the kitchen hog-in down on some giant Italian Subs . L to R. Jason Peterson my little "Brah" is out as the sax man for Michael Bolton for years and tours with various artists as well as being a great singer,piano player and funky songwriter. Danny Roo was drumming and this church is his home church so it was a treat for him to have on the platform. Danny plays with a 10pc. horn band called "Power of 10" In the twin cities. He has one of the biggest hearts in the world. Tood Earnster "BigE" is founding member of "Killer Hayseeds" and we go back along time. Todd is a remarkable guitar player and has "I AM" studios just outside of the cities. I did a lot of my last worship record at Todd's place.

Well last nights "Reign Down" worship event was our second and I was blessed to have old friends come in and give their time and services to recording and multi camera shoots. JP, and the BPEFC video crew, thank you so much. I'm looking forward to seeing what it turns into.

Well it was the first night with my wife, daughter and one son "The O's" singing tenor, alto and soprano. Our daughter is a harpist and new mom :) ( What a treat. My dearest bud Rick Baron ( also sat in and sang after doing all his morning services cross town at his church.

Well I could go on and on about the band, and the ROL singers did a great job as the praise choir.

All that said, the real star of the evening was "the morning star". Hundreds of people got their praise down and then moved into an hour of intimate worship and prayer. It was wonderful with all the world class musicians on the platform, to see people standing, stitting, kneeling, bent over in the stillness of the Holy Spirits love and presence, not focusing on "men and their abilities" but on "God's Holy Spirit and it's presence, power and purpose". d Learning to be still and listen and receive is very hard for some folks. They just wanna keep "moving" in this nano speed atmosphere.

"Be Still And Know" is more important than ever before in this time we live in.

But can't we just do God at the fast food window? Drive up, get a blessing, give our offering, listen to worship while waiting for our blessing in line and then drive off?
Or just download it on our Blackberrys and skip the drive altogether. Hey, that way we can pause it whenever we get a text or call.

I'm reminded in saying that, of all the time I go to prayer and two minutes in the phone rings or my kids interrupt me or, or, or, and I snap out of prayer in that nano second and go back to it when I'm done with the distraction. Could i do anything more disrespectful to the Holy Spirit?
I know when someone sets up a meeting with me and then when they show up they are taking calls and texting in the middle of my converstions, I'm so frustrated by that lack of respect.
Well --- there I am - doing that to the great I AM! Forgive me Lord and help me to make time to sit and "soak" with You, alone. Getting my flesh used to not taking those distractions so that You can do the work on my heart that You desire to do, and not in the Fast Food Prayer Line.

Well again this morning i'm reminded how much I need a Savior every day. Not that I don't understand the fullness of His grace and mercy on an eternal level, but that, no, I really don't understand the fullness of His grace and mercy. It is just that, to big, to wide, to great to comprehend in the natural. So humbly this morning I sit quietly in awe once again.

Thank you to all of my brothers and sisters who came out and supported this event last night.
You know who you are and I pray you left with a fuller cup from which to pour on the thirsty!

No there is something about soakin!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Desert Moon

Back from Tucson AZ this week. Jane and I had a week of R&R. Thanks Beth for the use of your home and car :) We love you.

We just run, walk to the town and shop for fresh food to cook meals each day, read books, listen to our favorite music and tell each other how blessed we are. First day we walked to the store we got about 8 bags of groceries and not until we paid and pushed the cart into the parking lot did we remember that we had walked and didn't have a car to load it all into.

Boy did we laugh as we pushed that cart down the side of the desert roads past all the traffic, looking like a couple of homeless people pushing our cart. We did get a lot of stares as white middle-agers with cart.

I have a two mile path I love to run in the morning around the desert where we stay and there is always lot's of life and death in the sand.

We saw a pair of deer hunting for water one evening and 5 large hawks all hunting together in the desert another day.

I'm always amazed how hot the sun is in upper elevations when the temp is under 40. In the shadows it feels like 40 but in the sunlight it feels like 80 on your skin.

The photo today was a cactus with a bird hole in it. I noticed the moon was out in the afternoon as well and it seemed like a unique combination. I loved the contrasts of the dark/light, moon and bird hole.

Read a great new book called "Leader-Shift" buy one of the founders of Willow Creek. Don Cousins.

Had a great time sharing faith for an hour with an agnostic friend we'd met who represents a famous artists museum. He was from England and had obviously been hurt by the church earlier in life. He was so refreshed to discuss God outside the confines of a religious denomination or set of religious rules. I'm praying he will email me back and we can become friends. What a great guy.

There was another great time in a Cantina having a margarita while ministering to an 82yr old man who had no family and had just lost his wife a few weeks ago after 42 years of marriage.
We went into the cantina at the end of our walk and Jane wanted to sit at a table in the restaurant. I said I wanted to go into the bar and sit at the bar. I love talking to bartenters and you never know who you might meet at a bar. Well there he was. All alone and we found out he'd been there having beer since noon. (It was 5;30). What a great time speaking life into this sweet, lost, broken man. And now we'll see if he responds to my email, so we can continue dialogues of "life". Thank you Lord for opportunities to share your love each day.

Then there was the butcher in the meat market. He looked forlorn and it took about 30 seconds of jokes to get him to laugh behind the counter. Well he laughed and I said "Ok now I can go home, I made you laugh and smile today". He looked at me perplexed and then realized I was serious. You see God works in mens hearts in different ways. We're only called to spread his Love and good fruit. He works the mysteries. Amen.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Repairs, Runnin and Gunnin

I'm reminded that Fixing things up is not always fun. This photo was my picnic table as I built screens and rebuilt broken glass windows last year. A big sigh of relief at the end, but no fun in the middle of it all when everything is a mess and you've broken more than you were going to fix.

This morning I drove into a church to do worship and my first call was that the alarms were going off and the police had arrived. Second, I didn't have my tenor, soprano or aco. guitar player due to illness and vacations.
My wireless DPA head mic kept cutting out during the rehearsal, The main projector failed and shut off during rehearsal, as usual, some of the band didn't print the chart they were mailed. Then 45min before the service the Sr. Pastor called me to tell me he was very ill and could not get out of bed. The associate pastor was on vacation and the youth pastor was on vacation so I was to make it work. Yee Haa.

So this is life. These are the moments you remember. The last minute changes not the preplanned and smoothing running events. How did we handle it. Did we come unglued? Did we bend or break, run or hide? Did our attidutes suffer with others? Did we begin the blame game? Did we tear down the weak and wounded? Did we build up our teams and lead them with grace.

This really is where our faith is tested. Do we have the strength and confidence in Him to lead and carry us, or are we being a mercenarys driven by the need to "win" for prides sake.

Lord help me more and more each day ask for a humble heart. One willing to share my faults to let others "in" to be more transparent with their issues.

Hope your days of "fixing" and "rebuilding" become ones of great testimony and revelation. Ones you store up to be used in helping others cope with like and similar struggles!

In our weakness He is made strong.