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
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 the rest
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.
Over the last fourteen months Alex Lewis went from being the owner of a pub, to quickly becoming critically ill and a quadruple amputee. Yet he still describes the past year as the best he’s ever had.
Read the article: ‘The year I lost my limbs was the most brilliant of my life’ – BBC NewsRead the rest
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
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:
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And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.
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:
- Spiritual Disciplines within the Community
- Devotion to the Apostles’ Teaching
- The Breaking of Bread
- The Fellowship
- The Prayers
- Spiritual Disciplines in the Home
- Study or Bible intake
- Meditation on the Word
- Silence and Solitude
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
I 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
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
I received an invitation to speak at a men’s retreat on the topic of the spiritual disciplines, though it has been a while since I read Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline and don’t consider myself an authority on the subject by any stretch. It was also decided that I would present Richard Baxter as a case study from my book, Good Mr. Baxter. History remembers Baxter first as a devotional author on the spiritual disciplines, as well as one of the most fruitful and devoted pastors of all time.
The next few posts will feature some of my notes on the various disciplines, along with links to other helpful resources and what I hope to be some helpful insights and tips.… Read the rest
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
I 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
Back 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
Over 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
Sometimes what we call genius is actually the skill involved in paying attention to detail and developing the ability to identify and catalogue information. This is an article of quotes, so I’ll just point you to it: The Art of Observation and Why Genius Lies in the Selection of What Is Worth Observing | Brain PickingsRead the rest
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:
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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.
This 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.
From 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.
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 NewsRead the rest
I suppose it’s fitting I write a review of Matt Perman’s book What’s Best Next (WBN) toward the end of a day that I’ve spent piddling, getting very little done, on the way to working myself up to settle down to watch a movie.
My cousin Nancy pointed me to What’s Best Next, while discussing our recent retirements. For Type A personalities or those of us who obsess over how much time we’re wasting, our first impulse is to prioritize and jump right into finding more time. That’s universal and, if you don’t believe me, just scroll through the thousands of productivity products and strategies on the web.… Read the rest
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
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
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.
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
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
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.”… Read the rest