Far Side

change of pace, silliness 3 Comments »

I was a bit distracted today. I woke up at 3:45 this morning, wide awake. At least my body was. My mind wasn’t really focused. Which is a waste of waking up that early. I usually can get some great writing in, but I tried and nothing came out. All day I sort of kept trying, and never could get around to getting any focus. But I think I found a new hobby. Photoshopping old Far Side cartoons. Well, putting together an image that matches what was drawn. Here’s my first attempt:
Washington Crossing the Street

Christmas Treats

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For this Christmas my ice cream making was exercised in two new ways.

Vanilla Bean (yes, with vanilla beans). Well, I call it more Christmas ice cream, because of the dashes of nutmeg and cinnamon I added that definitely brought out some Christmas spirit:

Vanilla bean

And then there’s the Peppermint (with bits of candy cane mixed in):

peppermint

Not shown — I just happened to get a waffle cone maker as a gift, and so these scoops were dished out into wonderful vanilla flavored cones.

mmmm…. good!

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society

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Here’s a worthy cause. Maria has this to say about it:

I want to make you aware of a special organization that I’m involved in: The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training (TNT) program. TNT is a fundraising and half-marathon training program that will prepare me, along with my teammates, for the challenges of running a half marathon while fundraising for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS). The LLS is a national voluntary health agency dedicated to curing leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease and myeloma, and improving the quality of life of patients and their families.

I am running (which is a miracle in and of itself) with my teammates in honor of two great kids, Alex and Sophie, both of whom have been affected by leukemia. Alex is 13 years old and was diagnosed with Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (ALL) 2 years ago. ALL is considered the most curable of all major forms of leukemia. Sophie is 14 years old and was diagnosed with Refractory Leukemia a year ago. Refractory Leukemia is known for accompanying one of the lowest rates of survival among blood cancers.

I invite you to support Alex, Sophie, and me as I fund raise for TNT and train for the Santa Barbara Half Marathon on November 5, 2005. I have made a commitment to raise $1900. Your tax-deductible donation to LLS goes directly to the cause.

My personal fundraising deadline is fast approaching so I ask that you send your donation by October 1, 2005.

Please use the link donate online quickly & securely. You will receive email confirmation of your donation, and I will be notified as soon as you make your donation. I thank you in advance for your support, and really appreciate your generosity!!

Donate if you can.

Good works

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In my continuing quest to find light, and push off the rise of religious cynicism which comes after 7 years of Christian higher education, I want to note the positive work of ministries, and encourage their efforts.

One of the ministries which keeps coming to mind is World Impact. When I was in college I was part of an inner-city prayer group, who met regularly to pray for the specific needs of the inner city and specific ministries which worked in that spiritually difficult environment. I also helped lead a ministry which worked with an inner city children’s advocacy group. This prompted me to pursue an opportunity to work with an organization over the summer, and as the founder of World Impact so impressed me with his philosophy, I applied and was on my way. Unfortunately, my own impoverished status gave me a choice of doing this work, or working for a salary which would help my return to finish college.

That being the case I have still never lost my admiration or respect for the work of World Impact, and meeting Dr. Keith Phillips before his chapel message at Wheaton still echoes in my memories. His goal is not to put on a show, but to make relationships. In his books he notes the effectiveness of an evangelistic ideal which focuses narrowly and deeply. Make disciples, he says, not converts. Work to find the depths with a small number of people and these people will become the sort who work to find the depths in others.

Such a method of evangelism starts small, without the visual power of a stadium filled with people, but if the few that are taught the depths pass this on, and this pattern continues, over the course of a lifetime significantly more people are able to find light than by the exciting ministry of a charismatic evangelist.

World Impact seeks to be a light by establishing themselves within a community, rather than going and preaching to ministry targets. They do good work, and mix the practical and spiritual aspects of the Faith in the way which has always been a standard for those passionate about Christ in this world.

I admit my occasional bit of cynicism, and I note there is much about the Church which I find frustrating. There are people, however, who humble me because of the respect I have for their lives and work, leaving me only to applaud, without much comment, the work they are doing. World Impact is filled with those sorts of people. As such it’s worth a look, or a donation, or even a commitment of some other kind, if the Spirit is so directing.

Feasting with the Poor

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Jesus said also to the one who had invited him, “When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

Methinks the Hosking family will be blessed. What a wonderful way to turn frustration into light, and what is likely a bad situation into a good memory. Transforming darkness into light… now that’s a good Christian attitude. Wonderful example for us all, no matter the details of our particular situation.

This reminds me of a little bug I’ve had in my thoughts in recent days. I noticed that I write a fair bit of negative things about the church, and while I am likely among the most hopeful as to its direction, my ire on present matters of frustration gets me writing more than my joy at what is right and good. I think I’ll add a new category, and be more intentional about finding wonderful examples of the Church in this world, expressing what I know to be true but too often don’t mention.

the real deal

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We hear on the news of Falwell or Robertson or we see TBN and it really frustrates me that these are the faces the world sees as representing evangelicalism and conservative Christianity. They may have had their moments, but like many they preach themselves more than they preach Christ. The Message is lost in that vague miasma of vainglory. This makes it easy to become cynical about the Church or its ministers.

But then there are people who really do represent the Gospel, their name is always accompanied by the name of Christ, they are always pointing the attention towards the One who called them. A lot of these people are unknown, as they work in small churches around the world. One who has made it into the limelight is Billy Graham. He is a man who honors the name of Christ in all he does. He’s not perfect by any means, but he is true to the calling and one who has run the race well. The LA Times, appropriately, has an article on Billy Graham. This is a man who is completely unabashed about telling the Gospel as it is, proclaiming the truth of Christ, and he is a man who even the media can’t help but to respect. That’s the power of the Gospel, and the reality that when kept pure the message really is effective.

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This is not a Christian organization.

LOS ANGELES — Ukrainian immigrant Ella Miramova had a dream — to become a Beverly Hills dressmaker — and the only place that would give her the money to make it a reality was the Jewish Free Loan Association (search), a lending institution that has charged the same interest rate for 100 years — zero percent.

To get a loan you must be needy, or unbankable. If you qualify, you can get up to $20,000 for food, student loans, starting a business or whatever you want. And you do not need to be Jewish — 40 percent of their loans go to non-Jews.

In the regular banking world, the default rate is 15 percent. At Jewish Free Loan, it’s almost zero.

“If you’re late by 10 or 15 days we make an official phone call to you and we remind you ‘have you forgotten about the free loan,'” said Mark Meltzer, executive director of Jewish Free Loan.

The institution keeps its client list confidential, but they say it would read like a who’s who of L.A. businesses, and because they make no money on the loans, they’re essentially banking on their clients’ success.

“The borrower who receives the money today and has a tremendous amount of success in future years, hopefully will support this agency for those who will require help in the future,” Meltzer said.

But, according to my Bible it exemplifies one of the earliest Christian standards. So much is made of the Acts 2 community, the supposed ideal for the church in its communal relations and spiritual fervor.

A person or group wants to be like that… they have to do what those people did. It is not enough to go to conferences and have meetings about how to ‘build community’. Gather everyday, pray and discuss Scriptures, letting go of materialistic concerns for the sake of Spiritual Life. Then evangelism results, for people are excited in their souls about a faith that too often only tickles the mind.

This Jewish organization has a model for what could be a wonderful resurgence in the Christian Church. Much similar to the situation of the early church, where Jewish spirituality was the foundation of all Christianity. This Church will look different than previous generations, and may, if we are all willing to let loose and be free in the wind of the Spirit, look like the earliest of eras.

Holy Land

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I’ve long pondered what it would mean for Palestinians to give up violence and take a non-violent approach. This is, now, impossible due to the present leadership. Non violence requires a leader capable of leading an army using his or her authority to press the people away from war.

There is no such leader, though one may yet arise.

The more substantive point of this post is not my words, but the words of those from all over the world answering the question “Why haven’t the Palestinians turned to non-violence?