Newsletter – Volume 45


Newsletter – Volume 45

May 6, 2024

This Week

Confessions From the Back of the Pen
Meet Mike...

Mike Orenstein has been one of my closer friends here in Austin. He is an interesting mix. He is super smart – especially around technological things. He travels extensively and is a highly sought after technician. But he has also held roles in social work working with the homeless and he helps lead the Recovery ministry at Shoreline Church. He is a fellow tattoo lover and we have actually done a few together. He is most assuredly a fellow black sheep messenger.

I grew up as one of those kids who could relate to everyone. Most kids get pigeon- holed into one group and pretty much stay there. That was not me. I could relate as easily to the jocks as I could the smart kids. I wasn’t the best in either group, but I had the kind of personality that could mix easily with anyone and everyone. Most of the time I thought that was a pretty cool deal.

But then when hardships hit, I realized I didn’t really have any meaningful connections anywhere. I started wondering what was wrong with me. I have always thought pretty deeply about things and so when I realized I had few places to go to ‘find myself’ I turned inward. My parents divorced, my grandpa died, and I was having a lot of conflict with my dad, and so I isolated myself. I turned to all the typical things people go to when they are confused and depressed. But I think the reality of it all was that I was just trying to figure out who I was.

Along the way, I got myself sorted out with God and rediscovered the gift I had in my growing up years. I leaned into it. I build connections with people from across the spectrum. I have always tried to be authentic about the realities of hardship and victory. I have known both. When it comes to friendship, it doesn’t really matter what a person does for a living or even if they make a living. It is not important that we attend the same church. I have always been willing to cross over typical social and religious boundaries to build relationships.

My wife and I have also been the kind of people who like filling in gaps. We have led and participated in all kinds of groups. We are helpers – so we have found ourselves in leadership roles – not because we sought them out per say, but because we have been willing to serve and the Holy Spirit has been faithful to speak to us about where we can make our best contribution.

As I think about the future, I know that my battle is not an uncommon one. I think we all wrestle with this in some ways. But I don’t want to give the enemy any space to whisper his lies about what I’m not. Instead I want to remind myself that the very thing that makes me unique is also the thing that makes me powerful.

Word of the Week


Adjective: Alert and active; animated

It stands to reason, doesn’t it, that if the alive-and-present God who raised Jesus from the dead moves into your life, he’ll do the same thing in you that he did in Jesus, bringing you alive to himself?  (Romans 8:11). There is no life like the life he can give, and it is available for the asking.  And when it comes your way, God will enable you to do things you never thought possible.  Sometimes that is a hard sell. We look at ourselves (and what we’re not) and we can’t help but wonder if these magnificent promises could possibly be true for us. So, God gives us signs and signals (all around us) that he is about making all things beautiful AND he can use the seemingly most insignificant creatures to make it so – and that includes you and me. Embrace it!  Celebrate it!  Live it!

A Moving Note From My Friends

Grace Fellowship Church

Backdrop: I served as the interim pastor at Grace Fellowship for 18 months. I would typically stay for 9 days. I would speak on the two Sundays I was in town and then film two additional messages to be played when I was not there. It was a unique arrangement, but it worked until I had to go back into more aggressive cancer treatment.

This past week I received a large card, where many of the leaders and congregants signed it wishing us well for our upcoming trip to Mayo. Besides the card and picture, they also included a check that will help us cover some of the expenses of our time in Rochester. Carol and I have been quite taken aback by the kindness shown to us by so many. Over the last few weeks, we have received so many words of encouragement in cards and texts. All our expenses related to our 3-week stay at a local AirBnB have been covered. We were able to purchase our flights on points, but our shuttle service from the airport to the hospital has also been covered. We have received specialty hospital clothing and prayer bags, and coupons for restaurants. We feel extremely well cared for and we are so grateful. We leave for Mayo on May 13. While we are away, we will stay in touch with my assistant Jennifer, if you would like the updates, you can let her know here:

Prayer Focus This Week

National Day of Prayer

This past week was the National Day of Prayer, please join me in this prayer for our country?

Lord Jesus… I lift up our nation and its leaders. The challenges facing us are most certainly beyond us. I’m sure every generation has thought similarly, but it feels especially ominous these days. So many things seem upside down. Evil is called good and good evil. We live in a time where people are pitted against one another by race, ethnicity, political opinions, socio-economic realities, cultural questions, and religious views. And a house divided against itself cannot stand. Point being, we are in a desperate place O Lord! Help us to find our way. We need you. I know we don’t deserve it, but might you graciously bring revival to our land.

And for the church – O my God – help us model something different and better. We could be the beacon of hope and light, but we are so embroiled in our own petty arguments that we are missing the bigger picture. Wake us up and help us to set a different pace. May the way we live and treat one another provide an example of a better way! Take us beyond sanctimonious pontification and may we be motivated afresh by the way of Jesus – noting the significance of the hour.

Lord have mercy… In the powerful name of Jesus!

Guest Appearances

Pocket Prayers

Over the last few weeks, many of you know I have been receiving weekly bladder treatments. As a result, I was not in the best position to continue recording my Pocket Prayers for social media. But, as the Lord typically does, he turned this disappointment into something positive. A suggestion was made that we give some other prayer warriors an opportunity to film and share their own version of pocket prayers. Loved that idea. So we started sharing them this past week, and they will continue through my time at Mayo. They have been so good. If you haven’t had a chance to see them yet, please check them out on Instagram and Facebook @_pocket.prayers_.

We have also updated my YouTube channel and should that be your preferred platform, you will find Pocket Prayers there now too – alongside several other video resources including podcasts and teaching videos. Check it out HERE.

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