New photos

ß over there. These are especially for those of you unhappy with us for peeling the boy’s head. Enjoy.

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For anyone looking to save a buck on good food…

I have a code for 60% off at restaurant.com. If you aren’t familiar with this site, they sell dining certificates for a fraction of their value ($25 for $10, for instance). It’s not a scam. There are minimal conditions on how you use the certificates, but nothing extraordinary. I just bought $120 worth for $20. Really. If you’re interested, let me know and I’ll email you the code (which really will discount the prices you see on the site another 60%) with a referral link.

Update: The 60% discount code has expired. I’ll keep an eye out for others. In the meantime, you can still save some dollars on that site with their regular prices, which are generally good for saving over 50% on a meal.

Worthwhile reading from a guy I don’t know

Sometimes I get frustrated (mostly with myself) when I read that someone else has already written something I really wanted to write but haven’t taken the time to write. Other times I read something like that and am just glad someone wrote it. Michael Spencer’s take on visiting a Christian-themed product retail supercenter is one of the latter. A sampling:

One cannot say it enough: The book selection in the average Lifeway is horrendous…. There is a large section called "Christian Living," and 98% of the books found there never needed to be written. The packaging is very nice. The titles are cute. But after that, things get desperately discouraging. Politics. Family Values. Sentimental devotionalism. Nonsense. Bad advice. Mumbling. …books that retread the same messages that evangelicals have been writing for a century.

and this…

Of course, there are many Bibles and Bible reference materials in most Lifeways, but almost no theology. Bibles and Christian Living, but a shrinking interest in theology. You can draw your own conclusions. I think it tells a story.

and this…

If our pastors aren’t teaching their people, who gave the Christian publishers and parachurch ministries the green light to fill the gap? Thousands of Baptist churches have "Women’s Bible Studies" going that would never be in existence if the pastor were the leader. What’s up with that? I am all for good curriculum, but I don’t want N.T. Wright, John Piper or anyone else replacing the teaching ministry of local church pastors and elders, especially at the instigation of Christian publishers who want to sell products. The issue of accountability is seriously compromised with the proliferation of replacement Bible teachers packaged and sold by Lifeway.

He then goes on to crack back on Joyce Meyer and some of her most ardent detractors by calling her "the pastor most Southern Baptists wish they had, even though their version of God won’t allow her in the ministry."

Read it.

Help a brother out

Mark Palmer is a guy I don’t really know. He and I know some of the same people – his sister lived in the dorm we ran in PA (and we also got to know their parents a little through her) and Phil is a part of Palmer’s community in Columbus, Ohio. Palmer and I have never met, though we exchanged a couple of emails at some point several months ago. That said, I’m going to attempt to tell you a little about him and ask Phil to correct or clarify where I fall short.

Palmer has cancer (or had cancer, many are praying), and he’s about my age (I’m not entirely sure of the accuracy of that part, but he’s way too young for this, whatever the case). Like me, he has a wife named Amy and a little boy who’s in the general vicinity of three years-old. Amy and Palmer were married last November, about a year and a half after his first wife died at a very young age from stomach cancer.

I’ve felt some unusual connection to Palmer and his story since I first began hearing about them over two years ago. I think I felt that connection for several reasons. He was preparing for and welcoming his first son as I was doing the same, and he was also preparing for experiencing the earthly departure of his wife and his son’s mother only months after she gave birth. Maybe it’s because my wife has had so many peculiar and occasionally frightening health issues, but their story resonated with me in some deep places. I also believe Palmer and his lot are on a spiritual journey that we relate to, particularly in the area of life in community. He leads (if he has a title Phil, feel free to add that) a church community in Columbus called Landing Place.

So here’s the deal – Palmer’s health insurance group has decided they’ll pass on paying for all his cancer-related bills. Who knows when an insurance company has legitimate cause for making a decision like this and when it doesn’t, but it is what it is. Palmer’s bills are likely to run upwards of $75k, and most clergy-types leading new, small faith communities don’t have that kind of change in their sock drawer. Many in Palmer’s local community and some of his friends worldwide are working to put an end to those bills.

You can help by making a Paypal donation through Landing Place on his behalf. Just click the link in the upper right corner of the page (or at the bottom of this post). That will take you to Palmer’s blog, where you can read about his progress (he’s been through chemo and is now recovering from surgery) and click on the Paypal link on his page to join in his healing. I know you have plenty of ways to spend (and even donate) your money, but here’s a chance for us to affect change for a real person. Do something good.

And, of course, Palmer covets the prayers of brothers and sisters for the healing of his body. He believes in the far-reaching power of the Kingdom of God, and he’s comforted and changed when we leverage that Kingdom on his behalf.

Go.

palmer_paypal_button

I’m thinking about becoming a smoker

I know what you’re thinking – lung cancer, emphysema, early death, blah, blah, blah. Spare me the scare tactics. Listen people, our bodies are all in a state of gradual degeneration, tobacco or no. Besides, I know lots of old people who smoke and are still alive. Dead people don’t cough like that and they sure can’t talk through those Stephen Hawking voice boxes.

So I guess you’re wondering why I’m going to start smoking. It’s just that we’ve had lots of crazy stuff happening in our lives over the last couple of months – the kind of stuff that often leaves you in that odd state of physical and mental stress that you can’t really find an expression for. That’s a frustrating place to be, and I just started noticing that the folks who stand immediately outside the doors (through which hundreds of non-smoking Homo sapiens pass every day) of the (state-owned, public) building I work in seem to have found a tangible physical expression for their angst. Something about the way they hold the cigarette and suck the life (or death?) out of it makes me think they’re really workin’ some stuff out with every drag. I mean, can blowing noxious chemicals from your tar-coated lungs into the virginal airways of defenseless bystanders be anything but therapeutic? So hey – I’m in.

Besides, this will apparently turn me into an extreme sports bad ass (who can write in Chinese)…

or a cowboy…

or a smooth jazz camel…

UPDATE: Apparently this is also something I can do with my daughter when she arrives this summer…

Baby20and20cigarette

This whole girl thing has thrown me for a loop anyway, and I’ve been trying to figure out ways I’ll be able to connect with her. With this new information, I’m definitely in.