It’s a thing. It’s a perennial. It’s a recurring fascination. Like Daffodils springing up along our local highways in February, some Evangelical somewhere escapes the bonds of fundamentalism, gains new insights and clarity concerning what Jesus and the New Testament actually taught about this or that long-held, cherished doctrine or confession. Then, rather than move along down the road to enlightenment and into their newfound freedom from a dark, dank doctrinal prison, these initiates feel compelled to set the rest of us straight and usher Christ’s church into the hidden knowledge that will set the captives free from dogmatism (such a shame, too, because as Dorothy Sayers once observed The dogma is the drama).… Read the rest
Lisa Hunt didn’t win the Rock ’n’ Roll San Antonio Half Marathon on Sunday, but then again, she’s not dead either. That was a possibility for the 44-year-old teacher back in 2012, a few weeks after she ran in the 2011 version of the full marathon. You and I might view Hunt’s journey after that as either a mysterious tragedy that altered Hunt’s life forever or as intangible proof the human spirit cannot be destroyed.
Read about Lisa Hunt here: Teacher runs race, reclaims her life – San Antonio Express-News.Read the rest
I was reflecting on my dad, who passed away in 1996. I think about him often — probably every day. He was a memorable man and I’m reminded of him every time I look at my arms and hands. Back before the entire world owned smartphones, taking and developing photos was a bit of a pain. So, I don’t have many pictures of my father. This is how I remember him.
As a kid growing up in Whittier CA, some of my friends absolutely hated their parents and, from what I could tell, usually for no good reason, if it’s reasonable to hate someone, at all.… Read the rest
This was a small painting born from sheltering in place during the early months of the COVID 19 pandemic.
The painting began years ago as one of my first attempts at oil on a black gessoed canvas. My first attempt was dismal. So, I decided it would be an abstract, but that became horrible. So, I thought I would experiment with collage on oil paint using pages from an old Bible and dried flowers.
I still wasn’t happy with it until I had the gas mask idea, inspired by current events. A friend from the coast really liked it — now, it’s his.… Read the rest
Some of the most heartbreaking episodes in my Christian experience have been the occasional encounter with someone who has become disillusioned with the Gospel or defeated in their spiritual life and concluded “Jesus is not enough.” They may say it differently, but that is the reality. Having passed through a particularly difficult event or hardship or test of obedience, these once enthusiastic followers of Jesus were left joyless, crushed, and hopeless. They “tried Jesus,” but found their Savior was unable to fix a broken relationship or absorb their grief or “help” them to “be good enough” in the Christian life.… Read the rest
I wanted to capture a downtown Grass Valley scene without the Del Oro Theater in it. So, here is my acrylic on canvas painting of Fable Coffee: 12″ X 16″Read the rest
Let’s face it, Jesus says some hard things. One of the most offensive statements in the Gospels is this winnowing word about families and disciples or followers of Jesus:
If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:26 ESV)
First, what is Jesus not saying? He isn’t barring or shutting anyone out of the Kingdom. Rather, He’s speaking the language of common sense along the same lines as this statement:
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No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.
I thought I’d try my hand at hyper-realism, but I don’t think acrylic paint was the best choice. Live and learn, they say. I painted this from a photo of Olive and Sylvie I took at the Roseville Aquatic Center. It’s a 40″ X 40″ canvas and it’s found a home.Read the rest
Sunrise Over SPD is acrylic on canvas 36” X 48”. This wasn’t my favorite entry, but it won the People’s Choice Award at the Nevada County Fair in 2019.Read the rest
It seems like forever ago when I walked into downtown Grass Valley for their annual classic car show, snapping away with my Nikon. When I got home and looked at all the photos I shot, it just seemed natural to paint the passage of time. I had to remove some cars that were parked out in front, but that guy actually walked out and began taking photos with his phone. Nevada Club is acrylic on canvas.Read the rest
This is one of my favorite paintings.
A friend posted a video on Instagram of her daughter running by on a dreary winter day — it’s a split second long. I loved the complementary colors and motion, so I thought I’d try to capture both on a small 12″ X 12″ canvas.
Nine of ten churches are either declining or growing so slowly they are not keeping up with the growth of the community. Many churches are just a few years away from dying and closing. Revitalization is an urgent need. Thom Rainer
“set in order what remains” (Titus 1:5 NASB)
We were part of a church plant back in 1988, which experienced the highs and lows common to Evangelical churches moving through the widely acknowledged lifecycle of a church. There are various labels or descriptions of the stages a church passes through on the way to revitalization or oblivion and it’s helpful to recognize where your church is in the process; especially if you have the sense your fellowship is declining numerically and/or spiritually.… Read the rest
“Mr. Truman, reminiscing in a recent issue of the Times, says the press sold out in 1948 to ‘the special interests,” was 90% hostile to his candidacy, distorted facts, caused his low popularity rating… The ‘Republican controlled press and radio’… gave vent to frequent horse-laughs in their editorials and commentaries… Some of the published news was distorted, but distortion is inherent in partisan journalism… I have yet to see a piece of writing, political or non-political, that doesn’t have a slant. All writing slants the way a writer leans, and no man is born perpendicular, although many men are born upright.
I received my first commission and began with a full portrait from the waist up, but it wouldn’t work out in acrylic. So, I painted this portrait of Jesse in acrylic on canvas. I still have the original acrylic on a panel and hope to finish it in oil paint or pastel sometime in the future.
Read the rest
This is acrylic on a 24″x 30″ canvas. I took a photo of Olive in a blueberry field on Christy Hill in Sedgwick ME on an overcast day and thought it would make a good composition, if I made up a horizon and cloudy sky.Read the rest
I noticed something about women’s fashion while working for the Postal Service: many, if not most, blouses, tops, or business outfits for women don’t have pockets!
Most of my career was spent in Post Offices where I was the Postmaster or manager, so I organized them for me. I had pens located at a few stations I visited often during the day like the retail window, the desk, or the area set aside for receipt and notification of mail. But, I kept a pen in my pocket for the dozens of other places I would visit throughout the day. I couldn’t carry one around in my hand, because I was called upon to use both hands all the time.… Read the rest
I was looking at photos and video from our trip to Maine in July 2016. I wanted to paint these girls playing on a float on Blue Hill Bay in a way that would communicate activity and the passage of time. I decided to create a series of five small paintings in a left-to-right timeline depicting the girls in different positions on the float as they moved from one side to the other, in order to look at a crab they found. But, I was unsure if it would communicate what I wanted — and, that was the downfall of this project.… Read the rest
I spent a couple of hours arranging my upcoming book and, so far, it looks like I’ll have a 175-200 page general Introduction to the Baha’i Faith for Christian Readers. Actually, I’ll try to make it accessible to any reader, but it will be written from my perspective as an Evangelical Christian — I’ll be presenting the material in a semi-autobiographical fashion. There are a couple of reasons for this approach, but the most practical consideration for presenting this material to someone new to the Baha’i Faith is where we find ourselves in history — we are entering in on the “ground floor” of Baha’i history and development as a distinct religion.… Read the rest
Back in 1988, I received my first promotion to become the Postmaster at Camptonville CA. In 2014, I would become the last Postmaster of Camptonville, but that’s another story and another post. This one’s about the failure of musical education in the United States.
I needed a radio for my small rural post office with a good adjustable antenna to pick up stations from the Bay Area. It was June and I went to the local Long’s Drug Store (now, CVS), because they sold consumer electronics at the time. I found a ghetto blaster that looked promising: it had an impressive telescoping antenna, tone controls, headroom, and a cassette player.… Read the rest
I’ve been wanting to return to the blog and have a number of posts in the queue — strange that this will be the first one published since back in March. It’s not a subject I felt compelled to write about in the past, but Denise and I just finished watching the Grateful Dead documentary, Long Strange Trip, on Netflix.
We were real live Deadheads for a short time and this film pulled back the curtain to reveal why we never felt that compatible with the band’s following and eventually lost interest in the Grateful Dead, a band we enthusiastically embraced almost 50 years ago.… Read the rest
I knew Winston Churchill was a painter, but only recently heard of his essay, Painting As A Pastime. Former President George W. Bush credited this little book with both his deliverance from “sitting on the couch, eating potato chips” in retirement and awakening in him a newfound passion for art and painting. I thought I’d read the essay online, but The Estate of Winston S. Churchill has a tight hold on the former British Prime Minister’s massive collection of writings and correspondence.
I read the reviews and found this gem on Amazon.com “used” — it was actually new and I picked it up for about the price of a sugary, dairy-based corporate coffee drink.… Read the rest
Is there hope for a zombie church? The short answer is a resounding YES!
Look at these lavish promises Jesus holds out to churches He said were dead and/or in the process of dying — zombie churches:
… Read the rest
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God. (Revelation 2:7 ESV)
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.
First, I want to reiterate that churches belong to Jesus and not us — He wars against zombie churches (Revelation 2:16) and we do not — period. If a death-blow falls on a zombie church it is Jesus, with His shocking white hair and flaming eyes Who comes against them by the word of His mouth — Jesus is the zombieslayer.
But, it’s plain throughout the Scriptures that each one of God’s people fills a role in the Church as members of His Body.… Read the rest
Back in the 1980s, as a young Christian involved in the various youth movements of the time, it was very common to hear people speak of this or that church being “dead.” Entire geographical areas were also written off as lifeless: “the church back east is totally dead, man.” That was a common post-mortem among the 20 and 30-somethings in those days. It always struck me as wrong to speak of this or that church as “dead,” when there were certainly genuine born-again Christians involved — I mean, if some of the individuals in a church are abiding in the Vine, how can we say the entire fellowship is dead?… Read the rest
I recently read a wonderful post by church-planter Joel Littlefield: Aren’t There Already Enough Churches? He asks and answers “one of the most common questions a new church planter might hear… ‘Aren’t there already enough churches in this town?’” Not all church planters or denominations engage in that level of reflection before going into a place where a vibrant Christian community already exists — they just get the call, parachute in, and get on with the work. Others simply want to live the ministry dream and don’t consider the impact their vocational choice may have on a wider community of Christians.… Read the rest