Tuesday, October 31, 2006

All Hallow's Eve

Halloween cat?

Monday, October 30, 2006

causes of violence

Seven blunders of the world that lead to violence: wealth without work, pleasure without conscience, knowledge without character, commerce without morality, science without humanity, worship without sacrifice, politics without principle.
Mahatma Gandhi

kid graffiti

Sunday, October 29, 2006


They will be called oaks of righteousness,

the planting of the LORD,

to display his glory.

Isaiah 61:3

Saturday, October 28, 2006

last of fall color

bumper sticker


Friday, October 27, 2006

the ideal size congregation

From a monastic forum:
Even a congregation of just one can be an extremely difficult number to deal with.
"If I contradict myself, I contradict myself. I contain multitudes."
Walt Whitman

Is your church paying competetive salaries?

This book may provide the answer. click here

This can apply to many of us, especially when seeking God:
Let me keep my mind on what matters,
which is my work,
which is mostly standing still and learning to be astonished.
Mary Oliver, Thirst

God's art

red oak seedling

Thursday, October 26, 2006

funeral services are difficult . . .

. . . when you have to read poems such as this
To: Grandpa
Why did this happen?
Is it true?
Grandpa, I miss and love you.
Why did you leave?
I didn't say bye,
Now I sit here and wonder why
I miss you grandpa,
I hope you know that.
I want my favorite Grandpa back
You made me laugh,
You made me cry,
Grandpa, just tell me why?
Why did they take you from me?
Just wake me up from this horrible dream.
I love you grandpa.
Love always,

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

more on studying Scripture

Do not approach then words of Scripture, full of mystery, without prayer . . . say to God: "Lord, make me perceive the strength that is to be found here."
Isaac of Nineveh

Sunday, October 22, 2006

quick review

I just finished watching the first episode of The Monastery (see my previous post today). It was better than I expected; the selection of the five individuals seems a little contrived, but the beautiful photography made up for it; I'd love to spend some time there. The mode of life at Christ in the Desert Monastery is more strict than at the monasteries I have visited. The monks follow The Rule of St. Benedict more literally, which I can certainly respect. As I watch future episodes, I expect I may have more observations to share.

For an application of
The Rule in lay life, I can recommend Br. Benet's new book,
How to Be a Monastic And Not Leave Your Day Job: An Invitation to Oblate Life (Voice from the Monastery)

"The Monastery"

Starting tonight, The Learning Channel will broadcast a five-part series, The Monastery, about five men seeking God for 40 days at Christ in the Desert Monastery, 75 mi. north of Santa Fe, New Mexico. I've been a little sceptical about the show based on the preview/commercials on TLC. However, the TLC website has good references to materials about Benedictine spirituality; I'm hoping the show will be realistic about life at a Benedictine monastery (at least as based on my experiences at Blue Cloud Abbey, St. John's Abbey, and St. Paul's Monastery).
P.S. You may be interested in some brief comments about monks by Abbot Thomas in his current message at From Abbot Thomas' Choir Stall.

Saturday, October 21, 2006


A few quotes from my message tomorrow on Mark 10:25-45, Our Mission Statement:

Are we forgetting that the
church of Christ is a community of grace? We are not in a race with one another for the best seats in the Kingdom. Or are we?

We hear what we want to hear – and we ignore that which doesn’t match the conclusions we have already reached. We look to Scripture to back up our opinions and beliefs – rather than listen to Jesus’ words with an open mind and heart.

In the world, greatness is determined by how many people serve us. In Christ’s kingdom greatness is determined by how many people we serve. It’s not a matter of authority and control – but of humility and service. It’s not a matter of fame and recognition by the world – but of knowing that we have done God’s will. Someone wrote that the Lord never says, "Well done, good and famous servant," but he does say, "Well done, good and faithful servant."

Usually we tend to think of heaven as a place free from suffering – pain – and death. That’s certainly something to look forward to. However, there is another freedom, perhaps a greater freedom, which we will experience in heaven. And that is freedom from evil. The old nature, which plagued James, John, and their mother – and also plagues us – will be defeated. As promised by the prophet Hosea, “He will restore us, that we may live in his presence.” The constant battle which we fight every day with the old Adam will be over. No more will we face temptation. No more will we battle sin. No more will our conscience make us feel guilty. We will be truly free. We will be truly perfect. We will be truly holy.

Friday, October 20, 2006

study Scripture

Yesterday you understood a little, today you understand more; tomorrow you will understand still more: the very light of God becomes stronger in you.
St. Augustine

In the measure in which our spirit is renewed by this study, the Scriptures also begin to take on a new face. A more mysterious understanding is given us, whose beauty grows with our progress.
Abba Nesteros

Thursday, October 19, 2006

prayer request

Please remember in your prayers my sister-in-law, Judy, and her husband, Robert, who suffered a stroke last week which has left him with extremely impaired vision.

If you have any prayer requests that you would like me to list on this site, just e-mail me. My e-mail address -- ikrafts@msn.com -- is at the bottom of each post.

guest preaching

This Sunday I will be filling in for Pastor Charlie at Beaver Lake Lutheran in Maplewood, Minnesota. The title of my message is Our Mission Statement, based on the Gospel text from Mark 10:35-45. The early service is traditional; the second service, contemporary. For directions & service times, check their web site. I would love to see you there.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Someone asked St. Antony (foremost of the Desert Fathers), "What must I do in order to please God?" The old man replied: "Pay attention to what I advise you: wherever you go, always have God before your eyes; whatever you do, do it according to the testimony of the Scriptures."

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Either pray assiduously or read assiduously; sometimes speak to God, at other times listen to God speaking to you.
Cyprian of Carthage

Friday, October 13, 2006

Yankee Doodle

As even a casual visitor to our website knows–we adopted a dog named Lucy. She’s an adorable black Lab, perky, friendly and not a little interested in all things edible. Our Sister Terese, because she cares for Lucy, is her favorite. The way Sister Terese gets Lucy to come to her is to whistle “Yankee Doodle.” I heard her do that today, and it got me thinking of God and us. I feel God has a tune for each of us to get our attention. Lucy comes right away when she hears “Yankee Doodle.” God is whistling, too. Are we coming?
Sister Ruth

Thursday, October 12, 2006

What do I say?

Often it is difficult to find the right words for someone who has lost a family member or a dear friend. The following words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer may help you:

Nothing can make up for the absence of someone we love. It would be wrong to try to find a substitute; we must simply hold out and see it through. That sounds very hard at first, but at the same time it is a great consolation, for the gap, as long as it remains unfilled, preserves the bonds between us. It is nonsense to say God fills the gap; God doesn’t fill it, but on the contrary, keeps it empty and so helps us to keep alive our former communion with each other; even at the cost of pain.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

bulking up
for the flight

note from Northern Minnesota

"Wow wee! I made a snowball on my way in from the car to the house. We have snow and some fall colors left. Could be a good sign of a long winter. In the next couple of days the lows are to be in the low to mid 20's and the highs in the 30's."

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

St. Francis of Assisi

This afternoon a friend and I were discussing the early monastics. St. Francis of Assisi was mentioned -- neither of us could recall whether St. Francis was a priest. I did some research and came up with the following in a note to my friend:
It appears that St. Francis was not a priest; I've looked at several sources and none of them mention his ordination. There are a lot of references to his preaching, but none about him celebrating Mass. It is personally humbling for me to recognize this since I miss serving a parish -- but then, look at all that St. Francis accomplished by taking an oath of poverty and simply preaching Christ! -- all without the accoutrements of a priest!

Some of St. Francis' sayings:
It is not fitting, when one is in God's service, to have a gloomy face or a chilling look.
It is no use walking anywhere to preach unless our walking is our preaching.

Above all the grace and the gifts that Christ gives to his beloved is that of overcoming self.

Monday, October 09, 2006

"I feel, and have long felt, that discrimination in any form has no place in the life of a faith community."
Rev. John P. Hankins, 73, who filed an age discrimination suit after being removed from the pulpit of a Methodist church in Stony Brook, N.Y.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

A fundamentlist is an evangelical who is mad about something.
Jerry Falwell

fall flowers

"The harvest is past,

the summer is ended,

and we are not saved."

Jeremiah 8:20

Friday, October 06, 2006


Rejection is difficult to accept, particularly if it is based on prejudice, lies, or as my grandkids would say, "It's not FAIR!" It is tempting to think of retribution and to plot schemes of revenge. But it is much better to rely on the Lord.
For He stands at the right hand of the needy,
To save him from those who judge his soul.
Psalm 109:31

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

crossing guard

"Let us go across to the other side."
Mark 5:35

I'm not finished, because I'm still curious.
Barry Diller

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

waiting for school to open

Open the gates,

so that the righteous nation that keeps faith

may enter in.

Isaiah 26:2

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