Published February 11th, 2017 by

So, you are concerned about children in poverty, consumerism, nutrition, and the harmful effects of fossil fuels on the environment? Why place your hope in politicians, administrations, and government institutions that swerve back and forth with each new Congress or administration? Try doing what we do: buy stock and become a shareholder in some of the more progressive corporations on the exchange. As a shareholder, you have rights and the ability to move those companies in the direction of positive social change.

This constructive way forward to influence culture and policy came to me through exposure to the divestment movement and its questionable effectiveness.… Read the rest

Published February 10th, 2017 by

This is a brief, fact-packed article on the pathology of the flesh-eating bacteria.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 700 to 1,100 cases of necrotizing fasciitis caused by group A streptococcus have occurred yearly since 2010. Although the disease primarily affects the young and old and those with underlying chronic conditions, it may also develop in healthy individuals. Transmission occurs person-to-person, many times through a break in the skin.

Source: Cytotoxins contribute to virulence of deadly epidemic bacterial infections: Severity of group A Streptococcus infections, including ‘flesh-eating disease,’ attributed to presence of 2 toxins — ScienceDaily

Read the rest
Published February 8th, 2017 by

It’s 2017 and President Obama is free to enjoy a well-deserved season of relaxation — being President of the United States has to be one of the most difficult jobs on earth!

I didn’t vote for President Trump in 2016 nor do I plan on casting my ballot for him in 2020, if he’s a candidate. So, I have some sympathy for those who were disappointed back in November, but little patience for much of the hysteria that has followed his inauguration.

I plan to move forward in 2017 in much the same way I planned to if Secretary Clinton had won the election and have done through past administrations.… Read the rest

Published January 19th, 2017 by

Unpacking Forgiveness: Biblical Answers for Complex Questions and Deep Wounds by Chris Brauns

Let me begin my post about this book with one of the endorsements from the back cover:

Offenses will come. It’s a given. Unpacking Forgiveness wisely prepares us for the aftermath. Grieving the loss of our six children in a van accident and then being reminded of that loss throughout thirteen years of subsequent battles forced us to search the Scriptures concerning the issue of forgiveness. Chris not only has confirmed answers that we had found but has thoroughly sorted out what it takes to be right with God and man.

Read the rest
Published January 16th, 2017 by

This morning I was getting dressed and noticed a design flaw in a pair of corduroys Denise found for me at the thrift store that makes them uncomfortable in certain situations. Over the years, I’ve noticed that clothes I buy at the thrift store or some overstock/bargain outlets like Ross or Marshall’s have some quirky characteristic such as too few belt loops, shallow pockets, buttons too high on the collar or inaccurate sizing (just to name a few). I always wonder if that’s why an otherwise attractive garment failed to sell or was returned or discarded to a thrift store. In my case, if the flaw in the item is not too obvious or uncomfortable or inconvenient, I’ll gladly wear it for a fraction of the cost of a quality garment.… Read the rest

Published January 15th, 2017 by

A toddler almost died after a bout of chickenpox turned into a horrific flesh-eating infection that left gaping wounds in his neck. Charlie Cave, from Kempston, Bedfordshire, was just 13-months-old when he developed the early stages of necrotising fasciitis.

Charlie survived, but I have been unable to find any updates on his condition. These kinds of articles, although often sensational, generally contain some helpful information about diagnosing, treating, and recovering from necrotizing fasciitis. So, we will continue to spread the word.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3727958/Toddler-died-bout-chickenpox-turned-horrific-flesh-eating-necrotising-fasciitis-destroyed-little-boy-s-neck.html#ixzz4Vssf5Pnc

Also see: Toddler Gets Infected By Necrotizing Fasciitis During Chickenpox And It Almost Killed Him

Read the rest
Published January 12th, 2017 by

I’m a new artist and had this conversation with Denise the other day: “My drawing skills are horrible and I’m so impatient that I’m not really observing my subjects at all. After I get going, the process slows me down and I begin seeing everything I missed.” Denise, as she typically does, listened patiently to my exposed inner thoughts and acknowledged my concerns. Then, she continued with her reading. This is a “conversation” we’ve had at least five times over the past couple of months and it was just this last Monday I engaged in the self-flagellation one more time.

On the way home from Bodega Bay on Tuesday, we stopped at the Goodwill in Auburn,  I picked this book up for a song and began reading it last night.… Read the rest

Published December 24th, 2016 by
Published December 17th, 2016 by

My latest urban landscape is Bubba’s Bagels, a familiar sight to most Nevada County residents. It is acrylic on canvas, but I wanted it to have a more printerly look. The colors are all desaturated to some degree with the ultramarine blue of the Arco sign being the closest to a pure hue. I wanted to create interest in a very mundane scene by placing elements exiting the frame in different directions, while drawing the eye into the center of the piece. The actual color scheme of the shop is captivating when you drive by it — so, I tried to get that just right.… Read the rest

Published December 16th, 2016 by

This is the first discipline I wanted to examine as part of my series in the Spiritual Disciplines: devotion to the Apostles’ teaching. In the last installment, we looked at the purpose of the disciplines and now that we’ve laid a foundation we can look at each one individually beginning with the corporate disciplines — those things Christians do together.  These will be brief descriptions with links to more in-depth treatments or discussions. In choosing a place to focus on corporate disciplines, I landed on Acts 2:

And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.

Read the rest
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 August 31st, 2016 by

A 12-year-old Michigan boy is battling illness after being infected by flesh-eating bacteria that caused him to lose most of his left leg.

Dakarai Moore, Jr. was an active child until August 11, when he developed a fever and a greenish-colored rash on the bottom of his feet…

Please keep Dakarai Moore in your thoughts and prayers. You can read about him here: Detroit boy loses leg after contracting flesh-eating bacteria | Fox News

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