Published December 15th, 2016 by

In my last post, I narrowed down the Spiritual Disciplines to focus on the few that are most common across traditions and over the centuries. They are:

  1. Spiritual Disciplines within the Community
    1. Devotion to the Apostles’ Teaching
    2. The Breaking of Bread
    3. The Fellowship
    4. The Prayers
  2. Spiritual Disciplines in the Home
    1. Study or Bible intake
    2. Meditation on the Word
    3. Silence and Solitude
    4. Prayer
    5. Fasting

But, before we consider them individually, we should look at the purpose or objective of these disciplines. After all, if we are saved by grace through faith, how can we hope to improve upon the relationship we have with God in Christ?… Read the rest

Published December 3rd, 2016 by

fraudI was walking out of a function at a local church the other day and speaking with a self-employed brother in the trades.* He was on his way to a job and somehow got on the subject of financial dealings with fellow Christians.

He related how he had responded to a plumbing emergency at the home of a church member over a weekend and the person neglected to pay him for his services after being billed more than once (straight time and materials — no premium for after hours or emergency). A few months later, that same person called and asked if he could come over and do some more work.… Read the rest

Published November 29th, 2016 by

I recently introduced this series of posts on the Spiritual Disciplines and we’ll begin with a couple of definitions. I’ll follow-up with my own observations and insights — then we’ll move on to identify the disciplines themselves.

Donald S. Whitney in his modern classic, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, writes:

The Spiritual Disciplines are those personal and corporate disciplines that promote spiritual growth. They are the habits of devotion and experiential Christianity that have been practiced by the people of God since biblical times.

John Piper calls the Spiritual Disciplines “grace-empowered habits, and Spirit-empowered disciplines.” Piper’s careful wording is so helpful here if we are to avoid blurring the Biblical doctrine of  justification with the ongoing process of sanctification.… Read the rest

Published October 8th, 2016 by

For those of us who have survived something like the flesh-eating bacteria or who are living with a debilitating disease or physical condition, it’s good to get a fresh perspective from someone like Cindy Martinez. She is:

a Gwinnett County woman [who] simply doesn’t have the words “I can’t” in her vocabulary. Source: Flesh-eating bacteria survivor inspires others – Story | WAGA

These kinds of stories can, at first, seem a bit discouraging for someone like me, who will never be able to accomplish the feats that Cindy has. Others with multiple amputations may just want to give up after reading an article like this.… Read the rest

Published September 23rd, 2016 by

91dmb9o48clI had the opportunity to attend the Andrew Fuller Conference at Southern Seminary this past week. On my flight home, I read a book I’ve been looking forward to for years — D.A. Carson’s Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor: The Life and Reflections of Tom Carson.

I was first drawn to this book through a couple of podcasts and/or interviews of Dr. Carson when it came out. The book recounts the rather ordinary, yet significant life of his father Tom, a Baptist pastor1 in French Quebec through the 1950s, 60s, and 70s. There are a number of reviews of the book out there and I’ll link to a few at the bottom of the post.… Read the rest

Published September 10th, 2016 by

haykinBack in June of this year, Nancy Guthrie messaged to tell me that she was reading a review copy of a forthcoming book and I was quoted in it! Well, that was exciting news. I wrote Good Mr. Baxter about 25 years ago and it has remained in obscurity for the most part. I was just happy to see that someone read it and found something of value. You can find my semi-immortal words on page 49 of Dr. Michael Haykin‘s Eight Women of Faith!

This is my mini-review of his biographical sketches of eight historically significant Evangelical women, in one volume.… Read the rest

Published September 6th, 2016 by

501c3-300x246Over the past few years, I’ve learned a little bit about Section 501 (c) (3) of the IRS tax code: the tax-exempt status for religious and other charitable organizations. I began blogging about these matters in a previous post Family, Finances, and the Faith: Nepotism In The Church. By the way, I’m still learning so please point out any errors in this post in the comments below and I’ll thank you in advance.

If we survey history objectively, we have to admit that the Church in the United States enjoys a privileged relationship with the government compared to many other nations — tax exemptions on property and financial assets are not a Constitutional right (those are guaranteed to individuals) but a blessing bestowed by a government that was formed out of the nightmare of state-run, coercive churches that suppressed religious freedom.… Read the rest

Published September 5th, 2016 by
Published September 4th, 2016 by

Yesterday, I spent the afternoon with a friend, who lives in constant pain from a degenerative back ailment. We were discussing how often God blesses us through our fallen, broken, mortal bodies. If Jeremy Linneman is correct, 40 percent of Americans suffer from chronic pain. I’m one of them. Here’s why suffering can be a gift from The Paradox of Chronic Pain:

It is a constant and demanding journey; it is supremely complex and often seemingly meaningless; and there is no cure for the hardship or hope for restoration in this world itself. Chronic pain, like every type of suffering, is a form of brokenness that drives us to Christ.

Read the rest
Published September 2nd, 2016 by

Fudenjuce 2This year I had two entries in the Fine Arts competition at the Nevada County Fair. I received a Third Place for a Nevada County Scene with my Fudenjuce, which is acrylic on a large reclaimed yard sale canvas. It is one of a number of urban landscapes I am planning for the future. Although I received a third place, I was very happy with the result because I was competing across all skill levels including professionals.

Bridges PointI received a First Place in the novice category for my acrylic painting of a boat on Bridge’s Point in Brooklin ME.… Read the rest

Published September 1st, 2016 by

autopsy-of-a-deceased-church-12-ways-to-keep-yours-alive_2525018From Thom Rainer’s book, Autopsy of a Deceased Church, the author lists some tell-tale signs to alert us that our church is in trouble. Here are the most telling, in my opinion:

  • “The church refused to look like the community. The community began a transition toward a lower socioeconomic class thirty years ago, but the church members had no desire to reach the new residents. The congregation thus became an island of middle-class members in a sea of lower-class residents.”
  • “There was no attempt to reach the community.”
  • “More and more emphasis was placed on the past.”
  • “The percentage of the budget for members’ needs kept increasing.
Read the rest
Published June 2nd, 2016 by

I’ve been struggling over the past year and a half, trying to get a routine down — to optimize my time and get some real work done. I am essentially self-employed now, even if I’m not earning a living by my efforts. Nearly forty years with the US Postal Service and twenty-four years as a bi-vocational pastor kept me working and focused, so there was an imposed structure to my day with objectives and goals to meet, as well as work to be done. Now, I have to plan  my own workday, thankful that years of working for the USPS, Denise’s years of contracting and employment,  the generosity of others, and personal planning have provided the financial foundation for labors of love that don’t necessarily pay.… Read the rest

Published June 2nd, 2016 by

IMG_4687

I completed my acrylic painting class about two weeks ago and this was my final project: Olive At Seven. I’m generally pleased with it, although it gave me a bit of trouble in combining white with raw umber and, then, glazing and going to a gray. After encountering that problem, I created swatches and learned that raw umber has some blue in it, evidently. I found that by mixing in a little burnt sienna, it “warms” a bit and will go to a creamier tint. Oh, well. That’s why I’m taking these classes.

Next up are a couple of portraits and then on to my current fascination: urban scenes.… Read the rest

Published April 27th, 2016 by

My first acrylic painting class is drawing to a close. This is the first time I’ve put serious energy into painting since high school, over 40 years ago. I’ve learned a lot from our excellent instructor, Sandra Miller, at Sierra College. And, I can’t say enough about the wonderful color theory course I had with Linda Byrne two semesters ago.IMG_4209

One of the most enjoyable projects was a mixed media assignment. I decided to parody (not mock) this familiar Paul Delefsen print, Serenity. Denise found it at the thrift store, heading out to the garbage. We displayed it in our patio each summer, in order to capture the feeling that we were in a cool redwood grove, on hot afternoons.… Read the rest

Published April 25th, 2016 by

rant1I felt a New Years rant coming on, but didn’t get around to publishing it until today.

First up: There must be something wrong with me. I’d rather eat at a taqueria than Chipotle – there, I said it – I’m out – that’s just me – not hating or judging anyone. From an early age, I always knew I was different than the rest – but, that’s another story altogether. I don’t feel any different after eating organic/fresh than I do eating other kinds of food (unlike just about everyone else on social media). In fact, I recently ingested a bunch of home cooked fresh stuff and felt terrible.… Read the rest

Published April 25th, 2016 by

It’s great to see someone battle back after their ordeal with necrotizing fasciitis and a brush with death.

Haxton had been an elite rower in high school at Upper Arlington and for months after his illness, Blake had no plans to try adaptive rowing. But with some urging, he discovered the sport and quickly realized he was a natural. He was soon among the best in America.

We share a similar perspective, which may come from extended time unconscious or in a coma: the ordeal is worse for family and friends, watching this disease devour us in real time, while we are “off somewhere.”

We wish Blake Haxton the best in his competition!… Read the rest

Published March 30th, 2016 by

Well, it’s been over a month since my last post. A few things have conspired to keep me away from writing.

First, a friend of the family was hit by necrotizing fasciitis, the flesh-eating bacteria. It’s so rare, I never thought I would know someone, personally, who would be stalked by this deadly foe. He is a young man, received a timely bit of advice from his pharmacist and a quick diagnosis by his first surgeon and, then, he was off to an excellent hospital. He’s come through with flying colors. Today, he just learned that his grafts had taken very well and he’ll be going home Friday, after a month in the hospital.… Read the rest

Published March 30th, 2016 by

I used to tell people, jokingly, that I spared them from necrotizing fasciitis because, statistically, it’s so rare that they will only meet one person with this disease in their lifetime. Well, I can’t say that again as a personal family/friend has just passed through the worst of a bout with that nasty, cruel bacteria. His elbow and arm were affected and he has made it through the worst. It looks like the infection is under control and his surgeon has just grafted his affected area and the grafts took. So, he’ll be going home this Friday.

He’s pretty beat up, but rallying back.… Read the rest

Published February 7th, 2016 by

The MoabitessI’m back in school again, taking an acrylic painting class and a publication design course, learning Adobe InDesign. The strategy at this point is to take courses I need to move forward in my new career: writing, designing, laying out, and publishing books that hardly anyone will read, aimed at niche audiences, interested in obscure subjects. Doesn’t that sound super-bohemian?

the practice of an unconventional lifestyle, often in the company of like-minded people, with few permanent ties, involving musical, artistic, or literary pursuits. In this context, Bohemians may be wanderers, adventurers, or vagabonds.

I’m feeling hipper and groovier by the moment.… Read the rest

Published February 6th, 2016 by

Back in October, I wrote about an injury to my reconstructed left leg that left a hole over my superior and inferior retinaculam (top of my foot, at the ankle), which revealed my tendon, sliding back and forth, as I moved my foot (shivers). As a necrotizing fasciitis survivor, one becomes something of a wound care specialist and, though I’ve gotten along treating myself for nearly 20 years, this one required more expertise than I have.

So, I visited my general practitioner to get a referral to a plastic surgeon, because I felt a graft may be required. But, the wound began coming together by that time and my GP was able to really help it out with some minor surgery in his office.… Read the rest

Published February 4th, 2016 by
Biblical Eldership Resources put together this handy little collection of links today on accountability for Christian leaders. Often times, the focus is on sexual sin or pornography, which can be a huge temptation to Christians, male and female. By majoring on sexual purity, lists or resources like these often overlook other areas of accountability that are crucial to building healthy Christian community into the church. Ken Sande’s contribution offers refreshing insights from real life.
 
For example, the author of The Peacemaker proffers this modest sounding, yet crucial piece of advice: “Provide leaders with regular performance evaluations. Candid performance evaluations conducted in the spirit of Ephesians 4:15 and 4:29 can provide encouraging affirmation of strengths and successes, and address weaknesses or failures in a positive manner instead of waiting for problems to build to explosive levels.
Read the rest
Published December 31st, 2015 by

As I sat down to make resolutions for 2016, I remembered this sobering quote by John Goldingay from the book, I (Still) Believe: Leading Bible Scholars Share Their Stories of Faith and Scholarship. He reminds me that I’m seeking a “better country,” beyond 2016 and this present age.

Here it is and it’s not for the squeamish:

Americans like to believe in legacies; I expect to be forgotten, in fulfillment of Ecclesiastes’ warning. I know that individual students gain from classes I teach and from books that I write… but in general my work makes no significant contribution to the life of the church or to the purposes of God in the world.

Read the rest