Prayer Request

A long time on-line friend from back when I actually was blogging, keith Brenton, posted this on his blog today:

The Brenton family needs your prayers, because we need two miracles.
Angi has been a little ill – digestive difficulties – since January and it got bad enough that she went to the doctor early last week. They did some blood tests and a CT scan Friday, 2/15. The preliminary diagnosis we got the next day from the scan is pancreatic cancer – a golfball-sized tumor near the bottom of the pancreas, and unfortunately, signs that it has spread to the liver.
The prognosis for this type of cancer is never good, and life expectancy if caught early is usually about nine months – less if other organs are affected.
She will see an oncologist in Asheville Thursday, one who specializes in this type of cancer, and we’ll know more then.
This has been a shock for all of us, and we have been informing family members and friends. It has been especially difficult for our 16-year-old daughter Laura, who has been battling depression for some months. The day Angi’s scan was taken, we were admitting Laura to the local hospital’s ER for a comprehensive evaluation. We agreed (including Laura) with the evaluating team that she needed to be placed temporarily at a hospital which specializes in treating depression, and one of us was with her at the ER 24 hours a day until a bed opened up Monday evening 2/18, just 3-1/2 hours away. We have taken her there, and she’ll be in that program to help restart her life about 5-7 days.

I shared this with my minister here to add Keith, Angi and Laura to our prayers and his response was “Wow. That’s a lot to handle.” Indeed.
Keith is a vocal champion for Jesus, not one to hold back from challenging those who’s focus is other things. He and I hail from separate branches from the Church of Christ tree, each with plenty of opportunities for such challenges. As such, Keith has a thick skin (and a gracious spirit to compliment it), but I imagine these events are threatening to pierce it.
If you follow Keith on twitter, you’ll be familiar with this near-daily tweet of his (and this one is from today):

Too often I look at it and think “what a nice sentiment” but do nothing with it. Not tomorrow.
Won’t you join me then, and now, in praying for Keith, Angi and Laura?

Joy Runs Deep

Jared Wilson talks about how the expanse of the Gospel is far bigger than anything we know, bigger than our traditions and expectations. It bursts forth, requiring us to change our ways of thinking and our expectatuions.
And it’s founded, at least in part, on the joy of ‘God with us’. The disciples had no reason to fast, for Jesus was with them (Mar 2:18-22), and He is with us too so, as Jared says, “those united to Christ are not to be typefied by grief but by joy”. Indeed:

When we have this deep joy, we navigate seasons of suffering and brokenness with both the firmness of faith and the flexibility of it. We are able to confidently say, “This day” — with all its troubles — “is the day the Lord has made; I will rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24) Because we know that the joy is so deep, it will buoy our souls for all eternity.

It’s a great post, go read the whole thing.

Preach to Yourself

I’ve found this to be so true lately. When life is overwhelming, be it self doubt, family stress, work stress, church stress or anything that overwhelms my abilities, the best remedy is a good time of prayer to remind me of how God loved and desired me so much that he was willing to send Jesus to live and die in order to remove all possibility that we could be separated.
Once that reality is firmly embedded in your soul, nothing else matters.
HT: Jared Wilson

Lenten Sketchbook

Give Up
Four years ago, my online friend Paul Soupiset committed to sketching daily for lent. I linked to his amazing sketches at that time because they were very good and because I was a bit envious. I always wanted to be able to sketch like that, but I’ve never had the patience, discipline or whatever to develop the skill. I can draw, but I can’t sketch like this.
Anyway, this year he’s doing it again and they are every bit as incredible as before. These arent’ necessarily sketches about Lent or spiritual art (although the two I’ve chosen here are), but it’s about the discipline of slowing down, observing and immersing himself in his surroundings and meditate.
You can see them all here and if you missed them in 2007, some (though it loks like not all) are here.
Little Church

No, Brant Hansen, I Win at Christmas

Poor Brant Hansen.
Today, only 2 days after Thanksgiving he prematurely declares that he’s won Christmas with his fancy CHRIST-mas tree:

I win by demonstrating that your tree is just — you know — an Xmas tree. Your tree is a hollow reminder of paganism’s triumph. Your tree, which has exactly zero giant crosses in it, is an affront to the very reason we started cutting down pine trees and putting them in our living rooms and decorating them with popcorn in the first place: Jesus.
Your tree is lame. Your tree is a foot-soldier in the War on Christmas. Your tree hopes people have a happy holiday. Your tree watches MSNBC.

Christian Nation TreeHowever, he clearly is over confident and declaring victory much too soon, for I am one upping his lowly tree with my new ‘The Christian Nation CHRIST-mas tree‘ adorned not with some low tech, old world wood cross but a glorious electrified illuminated cross. Not only do I pull ahead in the race to win Christmas, but I get a significant head start in winning the 4th of July because, as you can see, my tree is red white and blue!
Brant’s tree can only display it’s cross-ness during the daylight, while mine can all night long and even in a severe thunderstorm (as long as the power stays on). My tree is a tree that the founding fathers would have displayed if they had access to plastic red, white and blue pine needles.
Brant, your tree only makes a statement about Jesus, mine shouts JESUS! and AMERICA! therefore, I win.
Your move, Mr. Hansen.

RIP Real Live Preacher

My friend Soup mentioned on Facebook that Real Live Preacher (aka Gordon) is hanging up his blog. I’ve been blogging for about 6 years and back in those heady days of blogging, his blog was one of the big ones every Christian blogger seemed to know about.
His writings were always frank and honest, sometimes brutally so, and quite deep. He was not afraid to talk about his very real doubts and reservations swirling in his mind. When he started, he was a preacher, but resigned from that position some time ago.
I wasn’t a regular reader, but when I did stop by I was drawn into his writings, especially the fiction. In fact, his fictional re-tellings of Biblical stories inspired me to write one of my own, though it pales compared to his.. Here’s a taste, hopefully it will inspire you to go and have a read:

Jesus had stopped for a moment and was conferring with his disciples when he suddenly and purposefully made his way toward us. It was as if he was deliberately walking in our direction, almost as if he needed something from us. I would have sworn he briefly looked me right in the eye. As he grew nearer, I could hear him talking with his guys, they were discussing dinner plans, actually, about feeding the whole crowd. They were quite near and had stopped just a stone’s throw away. It seems Jesus expected his men to feed the crowd and they had nothing. Silly fools, caught unprepared. Of course with a crowd this size, as one of them pointed out, it would take a lot of food.
It was then that I noticed Joshua, my oldest at 11. He had our basket in his hand, looking up at me. He had heard the teacher talking. “Daddy,” he said to me, “we could share our lunch.”

Thinking of RLP reminds me of those early blogging days, before the expedients of Facebook and Twitter, when a blog was the easiest way to share your thoughts with the world. I miss those days. The end of RLP is one more reminder that they are gone. But, as he points out in his closing post, everything has a season. The season of ‘blogs’ seems to be passed, but that’s OK.

Have Gospel, Will Travel

Jared Wilson points out a fundamental difference between Christianity and other religions:

There are no compulsory pilgrimages in Christianity, no far-flung hoops to jump through. The pilgrimage has been made; God incarnated in man. He comes to us in Spirit.
Every religion beside the true one bids travel for power. In Christianity, power travels to us.
The kingdom is not “out there.” It is “in here.”
The temple is not “there.” It’s “here.”
Christ tabernacles with us.
The gospel that goes into the world and grows and bears fruit goes into the world when we do.

We are on a constant pilgrimage, taking Christ to those who don’t know him. That’s by God’s design. How should that change your daily life?
Go read the whole thing, it’s not long, and if you trust in Jesus, it’ll warm your heart. Oh, and if Jared isn’t in your web routine, your feed reader or your Twitter follow list, repent now in sack cloth and ashes. 😀

Swagger Wagon

I’m an unabashed fan of the minivan. If you need to haul a significant number of people or a significant amount of stuff or both on a regular basis, there is no better vehicle. I’d bet that my Odyssey minivan does more things well than whatever else your driving.
I’m a Honda guy, but the new Toyota Sienna looks like a very nice van. Regardless, this rap video for the Sienna is just plain awesome.
(Ironically, our next vehicle will likely not be a minivan because we want better towing for a possible camper upgrade in a couple of years. We’ll likely end up with a Chevy Traverse crossover, sacrificing some interior space and an MPG or two for 1,700 lbs of towing capacity. Most folks would be glad to get out of the minivan, but I’ll miss our Swagger Wagon.)
HT: Byrne at Majodojo

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