Friday, June 29, 2007

Recipe: Garlic Spinach, Pine Nuts, and Raisins

Serves 4

This is a side dish recipe. You really should use fresh spinach rather than the frozen, cut ones.

I can't take credit for the idea -- it came from another recipe site. I changed a couple of ingredients and some cooking methods to suit my tastes.


1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup pine nuts
2 cloves (large) garlic
2 bunches of fresh spinach (can substitute equivalent salad packs)
3 tbsp. olive oil (or other high-quality vegetable oil)
1 tsp. salt (or to taste)
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste


  1. Soak the raisins in warm water for about 20 minutes until they get nice and plump.
  2. Meanwhile, peel and thinly slice garlic lengthwise; wash and stem spinach leaves and set aside.
  3. Set a small pan or frying pan over medium-high heat. When hot, pour in the pine nuts and roast the nuts for 3-4 minutes, constantly stirring, until the nuts take on a golden brown color. Take the pine nuts out of the pan and set aside.
  4. Heat oil on medium heat in a large frying pan or wok. When hot, add the garlic slices and let them fry until they are a toasted brown color. (Some slices may turn color more quickly than others.) Take the slices out with a slotted spoon and set aside to drain atop a paper towel. Leave as much oil in the pan as you can.
  5. Return the pan and oil to burner and increase heat to medium high. Add the salt and pepper and stir for a few seconds to mix. In batches, add the spinach and stir-fry. As soon as a batch wilts and there is more space in the pan, add another batch until all the spinach is in the pan. Make sure the spinach is well mixed with the oil, salt, and pepper.
  6. Add the pine nuts from step 3 and the garlic from step 4. Drain the soaking raisins from step 1 and add them to the spinach. Stir until all the ingredients are well distributed. Take off heat and serve.

A couple of eagles

Before you ask, no, I did not have a camera with me.

I was on my way out to town on the bike. I noticed that the tide level was pretty high as I cycled down the road. And then I saw a large bird sitting on the tip of a rock peeking out of the water, just down the road embankment. When I looked over to take a closer look, I saw that it was a mature (i.e., with the white crown) bald eagle, just sitting there. I must have passed by not more than 20 feet or so from the bird.

As I went down just a few seconds more, I noticed someone with a camera taking pictures of something in the water. As I got closer I could see that there was something swimming. At first I thought it might be an otter or a seal. It was a dark brown and not quite large enough to be a sea lion.

As I got even closer, I discovered that it was a young eagle, swimming to shore. From what I understand, eagles, if they ever actually end up in the water, are unable to fly out due to the new weight of waterlogged feathers. So they have to paddle their way back to shore where they can dry themselves out.

This poor eagle apparently did not have a very good fishing outing today. It's hard to believe that it accidentally got itself soaked. More likely than not is that it saw a nice, BIG fish, grabbed it, and then it discovered the fish was a fighter and found itself getting dragged into the water. Fortunately this one looks to have survived this -- there were no orcas or sea lions around to make a meal of a nice, tasty eagle.

It gets me wondering: Are we that much different? In our greed and self-serving desires, do we ever grab onto something we can't handle and then find ourselves getting dragged down? I wonder...

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Try out the new

Most of us probably look to Google as the first place to search for something on the web. But you must might want to give the new a try. The search results from are easier to navigate and see.

The new is compared favorably against Google in today's Wall Street Journal article.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

A Midweek Update

There really hasn't been anything terribly unusual occurring in this part of the world.

Amy has been going to this week's VBS at the Lutheran Church. They are running the Avalanche Ranch program. Next Thursday through Sunday, the Salvation Army church will host their VBS, Tumbleweed Gulch.

Living with a pre-teen and a full teen means migraines... I've had one every day this week. A bit of Ibuprofen and Chamomile tea seems to help reduce the pain.

The weather has been a series of sun, clouds, and rain. Yesterday was bright and sunny. Today, it is quite showery.

One of our church members was admitted to the hospital this past weekend. I've been stopping by the hospital to see how things are going. I've met with a couple of the family members.

The girls and I have been playing games of chess the last few days. Either I've gotten really bad, or the girls are playing quite a bit better than I last recall. It's probably the latter. I can't get away with quite as many stupid mistakes as I used to -- though I still try to bluff when I catch myself making them.

Shelley is working on an Indian curry recipe tonight. She's just finished chopping the onions, and she's all teary-eyed about it. :)

The appraisal report on the house still has not come back. Since it is now just a week until our rate lock expires, we're hoping that the report will make its way to the lender really, really soon. I suppose it's not the end of the world if it doesn't  in time. It just means our monthly payments will go up some, probably by around $50.

Trying a New WYSIWYG Blog Editor

I'm just trying a new blog editor to see how well it works (or not) with Blogger.

These are a few photos already posted earlier.

Alpine Azalea Muskeg
Alpine Azalea Summer Muskeg


It seems to work well enough...

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Bible Reading 2007, Week 26

This week marks the halfway point in our readings through the Bible. This week is also heavy on the number of pages to be read. The good thing is that most of it is in the form of stories, so it doesn't feel that long.

The reading for this week are: 2 Kings 1-20; Hosea; Obadiah; 2 Chronicles 22:10-32:33; and Isaiah 1.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Sermon: The Secret

(Click on above title link to listen to MP3 audio.)

As I noted in a few blog posts back, today's sermon was on Daniel chapter 2. The topic has to do with humankind's search for answers, meaning, purpose, solutions to improve the chances for a better future for one's self.

This week, one of the daily e-mails from Christianity Today contained some thoughts on a recent bestseller by the title of The Secret. I think nearly everyone in the world wants to know the secret to a successful life, and so throughout history there have been any number of religions, philosophies, disciplines, etc. that have claimed to provide that secret.

The story of Daniel 2 is about a king who appears to have been seeking the secret to a secure kingdom. He was worried about what would come to pass in his future. Through his questions and insecurities, the God of Heaven shows Himself to be the Revealer of Mysteries -- the one who holds the answers to all of life's questions. Through Daniel, the king sees a foggy glimpse of the secret to a successful and secure future. This sermon explores ways in which this ancient story is still relevant to us today.

(Added 3:58 p.m.)

The following link takes you to today's AP News article about The Secret.

Summer Solstice Photos

These are a few of the more interesting images from my photo outing on June 21. I don't yet know what the guidelines will be for the fall photo exhibit, but the ones I'm considering submitting are marked with (*) next to the image.








Children's Story: Everything


What do you want to become? If you could become anything you could possibly imagine, what would it be?

What do you want your life to look like when you're grown up? If you could have anything you could imagine, what would it be?

What if I told you that by focusing what you think about on the things that you want, on how you want life to look like, and then working to bring those things into your life, you could have it all? Would you believe me?

Is that how life works? By imagining how your future could look, do you make it turn out that way?

Did you know that there are quite a few adults that believe this way and teach it to others? As you go through school you might hear teachers say this. Or you might see or hear about classes that teach how you can imagine your way to everything you ever wanted.

There is a part of it that is true. How we think, especially of ourselves, and what we imagine do affect the way we view our own lives, how we view the world, and how others view us. And this can, to a large degree affect how we live our lives. But can we have everything we imagine? And can we become anything we want to be? Can we make our futures into whatever we imagine?

There was once an angel that wanted to be God. He imagined himself to be God. He began to think of himself as God. He began to talk about himself as God. And then many other angels began to believe that this angel could be God. After all, he was talking and acting as if he was God.

After a while, the real God addressed all the angels. The Bible tells us that there was war in heaven. I don't know what kind of war a war in heaven was like. I don't think it was the kind of war that we talk about and know about. It was probably a war of thoughts and ideas. But in the end, the angel who imagined himself to be God and this angel's followers could no longer live together with God and the angels who chose to continue to believe in the real God.

So the angel claiming to be God and his followers were sent out of heaven. This angel came to be known as Satan, and made the Earth his home. Even today, he imagines himself to be the god of this world. But is Satan a god like he thinks he is? He may be in his own mind, but the God of heaven is still God over this Earth.

You see God created the angel, who became Satan, to be the best angel there could possibly be. This angel was never meant to be a god. This angel wasn't designed to be a god. Somehow, we don't know how, this angel began to think that if he could just imagine getting more for himself, by imagining being more than what he was, he could become what he imagined and have all that he imagined. But in the end, he ended up with much less than what he originally had.

God designed each one of us for a special purpose. God gave each one of us a unique set of skills, abilities, and personalities. We can become everything God designed us to be. But when we try to become something we weren't designed to be, we might succeed for a while, but in the end, we will end up with much less than what we could have had if we had followed God's design for us.

How do we find out what God's plan for our lives are? What is the secret to God's way of success? It's putting God first and center. Whenever we are faced with a decision, we need to ask, "What does God want from me?" We will likely find pieces of the answer in different places: the Bible, parents, teachers, pastors, counselors, classes, and books. Oftentimes, not everything you hear or read will be true. If we are tuned into wanting to do the right thing for God, the Holy Spirit will help us know which parts to take as the right answer and which parts to leave behind as stuff that will just confuse us and take us down the wrong path.

The most important thing to keep in mind is to put God first and center. We can test everything by asking and answering a simple question: "Is this what God wants for me?" If the answer this question is, "No," then no matter how much you might want it for yourself, or even if other people might say it's okay, then the wise thing to do is to leave it alone.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

This week so far

Here's a few odds and ends for this week so far.

On the big issue of our home purchase, we're just waiting for things beyond our control. The property appraisal will be happening this coming Sunday. As far as I know, that is the one remaining major item. The other outstanding item, property insurance, is dependent on the appraisal. Our rate lock expires on July 5, so we have to close on the purchase by then. Here's hoping and praying that will indeed happen.

On Monday I did some prepatory work on a sermon for this Sabbath on John 5:1-19. On Tuesday I realized that this would work better for next Sabbath. The theme is related to freedom, and next Sabbath being the one right before the U.S. Independence Day holiday, the sermon I think would work better then.

So Tuesday I went to the secondary (occasional) series that I started on a different look at the book of Daniel. I spoke on Daniel chapter 1 a few months ago. This Sabbath would be a perfect time to pick up Daniel chapter 2. Yes, it's the chapter with the dream of the big image and the prophecy of the kingdoms -- a historical favorite with Adventists. But as I just mentioned, my series is a different look at Daniel. After spending some time with the chapter, I believe that there are themes in the chapter that are at least as significant and important, if not more so in today's world, as the prophecy itself. So that is what I plan to speak on this Sabbath.

The Fiddleheads performed another small concert this afternoon. This time, it was at the daycare operated by the Lutheran church. This was a sort of homecoming for the Fiddleheads, as this was the first public performance that they did a year or so ago. Afterwards the staff and the kids at the daycare went around collecting autographs of the Fiddleheads performers.

Last week during my helping out at VBS, I caught a cold. (That seems like the most likely place anyway.) Now both Shelley and Amy have it. Elise doesn't have it yet...

Tomorrow, June 21, is Summer Solstice. It's also the day to get out the cameras for A Day in the Life of Petersburg. Anyone and everyone is invited to make images chronicling the day, and then submit them to the fall photography show and contest at the museum. I don't know if I'll be getting out of bed at 3:30 a.m. with the first light, but I will likely be wandering about the city with a couple of cameras.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Weekend in review

A couple of weeks ago, while browsing through Sing Lee Alley Books, I came across the brand-new edition of Sunset Western Garden Book I also found a little field guide to edible plants in the Southeast, Alaska's Wild Plants: A Guide to Alaska's Edible Harvest. Since these weren't an urgent thing and I didn't want to pay full price or the sales tax, I ordered it from Amazon.

These arrived last Friday, and ever since, Amy has been fascinated by the Sunset encyclopedia of plants. She's been reading through the plant entries, making a list of plants she'd like to grow in the future. We definitely have a sprouting/budding (the pun is quite intentional) botanist among our midst. We may have here a future naturalist or biologist...

This past Sabbath, we had four young adults from the Ukraine in church. They are spending the summer here, working at Trident Seafoods. Their grasp of English is not terribly great, their primary language being Russian. I hope that they were able to understand enough to grasp the basics of what was being discussed.

Yesterday, the sunny and warm weather of the past week reverted to cloudy and wet. Our teenager pushed my tolerance and patience past its breaking point and I simply had to leave the house for a while.

I packed up some survival gear, several water bottles, a bag of Cheerios, and headed out on my bike into the forested mountains. After a couple of miles on the pavement, I turned off onto a dirt and gravel road rounding the east side of the island. (There's a beach property for sale, if anyone is interested...)

The road went up and down. I really dislike loose gravel. As far as mountain biking goes, I much prefer plain old dirt. I suppose for cars though, gravel might be better. Descending on loose gravel is the worst part, because you can't brake too hard for fear of the back wheel slipping out. And when there a downhill corner with gravel, you never know if you might hit it wrong and slide out. Fortunately, I remained upright the whole time.

It's too bad there was so much clouds and fog, because on a clear day, the road I was on should have offered some pretty good views of Frederick Sound and the mountains on the mainland. What I did see were some nice wildflowers in the muskeg. I heard quite a few birds, but didn't see any of them, nor did I encounter any animals. The one thing I was a little wary about encountering was a bear. I wasn't quite sure what I was going to do if one appeared in the road. I didn't get to find out, though.

After about 1-1/2 hours I came to the city limit sign on the east side of the island -- the first time I've ever seen this. I was now in state and federal lands -- and also much less gravel. And a few minutes later I came to a "T" where I could turn to the right and hit the highway 5 miles away, or go to the left and return to the highway after 17 miles.

Since I was still feeling fine, though a tad chilly, I decided to turn left and continue through the forest. (In hindsight, perhaps heading back home to the right might have been the wiser choice.) It was more up and down on dirt roads, through forest, through meadows, and through muskeg.

Upon reaching the Three Lakes area (probably an hour later), the scenery changes somewhat with a small creek running on one side. It's the kind of place where you want to paddle about in a kayak, among the tall grasses and the wildflowers.

When in a car, a person doesn't notice the microclimate changes. On a bicycle, it's quite evident because you can feel it in your face. There are drier portions and wetter portions. And the vegetation shows it.

By this time I was feeling quite fatigued. I had pretty much exhausted my body's energy reserves. I had been stopping every 30 minutes to take in Cheerios, but it was not enough. My right knee was also starting to bother me. Another 30 minutes past Three Lakes, I reached Mitkof Highway, at a point 15 miles out from the city.

I was running strictly on fat reserves (and believe me, I don't have much of that). The rain was starting to come down more steadily, the wind was blowing, and I no longer had enough energy to go fast enough to keep my core warm. (My usual crusing speed on packed dirt and pavement is around 14-16 mph. I was struggling to make 10 mph, and even a slight incline dropped my speed to 5 mph or less.) I was getting colder and colder. And my knee was now quite painful. At least I was on the main highway, so if I had to I could flag a passing vehicle and either hitch a ride, or have them call Elise to come pick me up.

Now I was stopping every 15 minutes to rest, recover, warm up a bit, and get a little bit more food into my stomach. My goal was to reach milepost 8.5 which is where one of our elderly church member couple lives. If I could get there, I could make a call to Elise and have her come pick me up.

I literally limped into their house, shivering from slight hypothermia. I guess it was sort of good that I was in this condition, because it forced me to stop at their home and visit. It's been several weeks since we've seen them in church. We've spoken by phone but it was time to go see them. So as I warmed up, we visited for a while. Elise came and stayed for a little while. And then I loaded the bike onto the pickup and headed home.

I'm disappointed that I didn't get to complete the loop. That means that I'm going to have to try this ride again -- probably on a warmer and drier day -- and with more food.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Bible Reading 2007, Week 25

This week's reading is found in 1 Kings 12-22; Amos; 2 Chronicles 10-22:9; Jonah; and Psalms 128-134.

There is considerably more quantity this week than there has been. You'll want to increase daily readings by about 50%.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Sermon: Please Come Down

(Click on above title link to listen to MP3 audio of the sermon.)

Today's sermon explores the story of the royal official and his sick son. This is found in John 4:43-54. The key verses in this story are vv. 49-50.

This sermon explores the theme of superficial vs. genuine faith, and the theme of physical vs. spiritual death, healing, and life.

Children's Story: Real Healing

Real Healing

Have you've been sick?

How do you feel when you're sick?

Do you feel like going out, running around and playing? Or do you feel like stuffing yourself with your favorite food? No, not usually. When you're sick you're usually feeling pretty icky and usually just want to lie around, sleep, and rest.

Have you ever been so sick that you thought you might die? (Unless there is actually someone present that has been there:) No, I don't think any of you have been that sick.

Whenever you get sick, your moms and dads get worried and concerned. Moms and dads don't like to see their children sick and feeling bad and miserable. We want to see you get better and feel better.

So what do moms and dads do? What kinds of things do we do to try to help you feel better and get better? We might give you medicine, Advil or Tylenol, to help with headaches and fevers. Or perhaps a little bit of throat spray medicine to help with sore throats. We might help you with cool towels or ice if you're feeling hot. We also pray -- pray to God to help you recover and get well quickly.

When Jesus was here on earth, when Jesus was a little boy and a teenager, did he ever get sick? The Bible doesn't say that he did or that he didn't, but I have a pretty strong hunch that he got colds, headaches, sore throats and fevers. I'd venture to guess that Jesus probably knows exactly how you're feeling when you're sick.

In today's sermon, I'll be talking about a story -- not where Jesus is sick -- but when a little boy is sick, and his father comes to Jesus to ask Jesus to heal the little boy. This little boy was at the point of death -- his father thought the boy was going to die. Jesus did answer the father's request and the boy was healed.

In our world today, we pray for healing when someone is sick. Jesus will sometimes answer with healing. But at other times, he chooses not to heal.

Did you know that in the Bible, when Jesus talks about healing, it is more than just about someone getting better from being sick? When Jesus talks about healing, he is also talking about salvation. To Jesus, healing and salvation are the same thing.

When we pray for healing, it's usually for healing from physical sickness -- the things that make us feel icky and bad. Jesus is concerned about how we feel right now, but he is even more concerned about our eternal future. Jesus wants us to pray for the type of healing that brings us salvation. And that kind of prayer -- the one that asks Jesus to save us -- will always be answered with, "Yes!" The only thing we need to do is to choose to ask Jesus for the salvation-healing, and then trust that when Jesus says to us, "You're healed; you're saved," that he really means what he says.

Friday, June 15, 2007

VBS at the Baptist Church

I spent the mornings this week helping out with the VBS at the Baptist church. I was assigned to the grade 2 & 3 group: follow them around, make sure everyone gets from one activity to another, and help out in the activities as needed. Elise came out for a couple of days when she wasn't working. Shelley came to help out for the first day only. Amy was part of the oldest group of kids. Except for Tuesday, when she has a guitar lesson, she was present every day.

In addition to the regular Baptist church members, there were four young adults (called missionaries) from the Lower 48 who travel through the Southeast to help out the churches with their VBS programs. After the VBS programs, they will head off to help out with youth camps.

The group I was helping had to have been the most lively and rambunctious group. Both the boys and girls were constantly moving, even when sitting, chatting amongst themselves, and when it came time to yell out songs and phrases, they had the most volume of anyone.

The program's theme was Heroes in the Bible, supplemented with a sports theme. The whole week was about the kids training and preparing to enter the Game Day of life, and how the Bible contains principles that kids can use to help them in that preparation.

Each day, our group started out with the general worship rally, then outdoor games and snacks, followed by a missions program, then crafts, and then the Bible study time. The morning ended each day with a closing worship rally.

Here are a few photos from today's activities (click on contact sheet image to enter gallery):

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Shelley's Birthday Party

Shelley had her birthday party this afternoon/evening. It was a "bring-a-friend" party. Including our girls, there were fifteen at the event. It was three hours of non-stop gabbing and shouting. They started off with a game of Apples-to-Apples followed by pizza, cake, cookies, chips, and ice cream. And then a game of Cranium Turbo. The gifts were then opened. And finally the evening wrapped up with another session of Apples-to-Apples.

(The pizzas here run $25 for each large one... And no coupons.)

Anyway, here is a link to a some photos from the party.

Hammer's Slough in June

Here's the iconic Hammer's Slough in Petersburg on a sunny day in June.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Another sunny, summer day

Today was another warm, sunny, summer day. The next several days look like we will be seeing similar weather patterns.

Here is a view of Frederick Sound at low tide as the sun is heading lower this evening.

Monday, June 11, 2007

A house or a yacht...

This past Sabbath, a retired surgeon dropped in for a visit at our church. He is on his way from Friday Harbor, Washington up to Juneau, sailing on a nice, big motor yacht.

In the evening, we went out to the harbor to drop in for a visit. It is a gorgeous vessel - hardwood floors and cabinetry, multiple suites, etc. I think overall that this vessel has more floor space than we currently do in our apartment. The galley had at least as much counter space as we do...

Our girls decided that we should get one of these... Right! We could either have a house to live in, or a boat... Hmm... Which is more practical at this juncture? I think we'll stick with the house for now.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Bible Reading 2007, Week 24

The Bible readings for this week are found in 1 Kings 9-11; Joel; 2 Chronicles 1-9; and Psalms 28 and 29. These passages cover the remainder of Solomon's reign and (in Joel) the eventual result of Solomon's failure to remain faithful to God.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Sermon: Securely Mine

(Click on title link to listen to MP3 audio of the sermon. The audio begins a few minutes into the introductory portion.)

I ended up getting out of bed at around 4 a.m. this morning to put together enough organization to all of the notes I had been preparing the past week.

The sermon looks into the story of the Samaritan woman at the well near Sychar. This is in John 4:1-43. The main issue I was having this week was that I had lots of ideas for great lectures I could present on this passage, but I was unable to put together a coherent sermon.

The difference between a lecture and a sermon? A lecture is primarily about information dissemination. A sermon is supposed to come from the speaker's heart and into the listener's heart. A sermon needs to be more than just information. It should, ideally, require and inspire some sort of decison or action (even if it's to continue in the same direction). A lecture requires nothing more than comprehension.

The primary message of the sermon comes from the last few verses of the story (vv. 39-42). It's where the people of Sychar come to believe in Jesus as the Savior, each for themselves. I know I find it really easy to think that I believe and trust in Jesus because something I hear or read make a lot of sense. But the question is this: Does it remain simply an intellectual satisfaction, or does it enter the heart and make a change in my life? For me, for this week, that is the question posed by this story. The story provides the answer that I ought to give.

Children's Story: Life Vests

This morning I told the following story. Since I didn't write it out first, what follows is my recollection of more or less what I said.

Life Vests

Back in September we moved from Portland, Oregon to this town (Petesrburg, Alaska). We drove from Portland to Bellingham, Washington, and then boarded a ferry called the M/V Malaspina. The day we boarded, it was bright and sunny, like it is today. (Though by the time we came into Petersburg, it was, as is typical, raining.)

We settled aboard and then I think it was the Purser who announced that there was going to be a short demonstration of safety equipment and procedures at the cafeteria. At the announced time, we made our way to the cafeteria to watch and listen to the demonstration and instructions.

The crew showed all of us what to do if an emergency occurs on board that would require everyone to quickly get off the boat. They showed us life vests and other equipment that would help us stay afloat in the water. They assured us that there was enough equipment for everyone to have one, if they were ever needed. On that fall sailing, since the number of passengers was about equal to the crew, I suspect that if we really wanted, we each could have had two or three floatation devices.

Let's say that the ferry hits a big rock and begins to take on water. It's starting to sink. The announcement is made that everyone needs to make their way to the muster point, collect appropriate survival equipment, and then go to the life rafts. Does it make sense to ignore all of the instructions, leave all the safety equipment behind, and jump into the water?

Or perhaps you follow the instructions, but you choose to not get your own life vest. You figure that you can just grab onto your mom or dad and their equipment. But what happens if you find yourself in the water, and a huge, strong wave comes over you? What happens if you lose hold of the person with the life vest?

Since there is more than enough safety equipment, it doesn't make sense to go off the ferry without it, does it? It doesn't make much sense to try to borrow someone else's equipment.

But people try to do that with Jesus, with their spirituality. Some people think they can borrow someone else's Jesus and spirituality. Maybe a boy or a girl thinks that because their mom or dad reads their Bible, that they don't have to read it for themselves. Or maybe because their pastor or their teacher prays for them, they don't need to pray for themselves. Does that make sense to you?

It might seem to work for a little while -- hanging on to your parents' or your pastor's or your teachers' Jesus. But what happens when really difficult times hit? When they aren't close by, or when they don't seem to have the answers for you? If you're relying on their trust in Jesus, you might suddenly find yourself drowning.

Jesus and God are like a life vest. In fact he is better than that, because through the Holy Spirit, God can live inside you. But you have to have Jesus for yourself. You have to wrap Jesus around you and have the Holy Spirit live inside you. You can't rely on holding onto anyone else to keep you afloat when difficult times come in your life. Will you choose to wrap Jesus around you?

Friday, June 08, 2007

Sunny muskeg in June

Today was a sunny day from dawn. I tried and tried to put tomorrow's sermon together, but so far, it hasn't happened. I'm blaming the weather, particularly the sun, for my under-inspiration.

This week was Vacation Bible School at the Bible Church. Amy went there for three days. The parents were invited for their closing little bit, so we went to get an idea of what the kids were doing during the week. It was full of joyful noise and a mostly-controlled sort of bedlam.

Next week, the Baptist church holds their VBS. We offered to lend a few hands to help, and it looks like we will be doing just that.

We, ourselves, will not be having a VBS. If everyone who attends our church regularly and not-so-regularly was able to help (and only about half actually fit into that category), we might be able to do something. But the reality is that it's just me who would be able to do that in our church, so it just isn't realistic. My thought is that for next year, we might see if there is a church or school group from the Lower 48 that wants to spend a week of vacation time here running a VBS.

This afternoon, I finally gave up trying to work on the sermon. Instead, I took my camera out with me on a walk through the muskeg. The air temperature may have only been in the low 60's, but it sure felt hot. I was in short sleeves and still sweating. Here are a few photos of what the muskeg looks like during early summer.

(Click on a image for larger view and caption)

So what will happen about the sermon? I have plenty of notes that I've taken down during the preparation. I also have all sorts of themes and topics from these notes. But all that have not yet "jelled" into a coherent sermon.

Maybe if the rain started to fall... That might help with a little bit of inspiration. What do you think?

Fiddling notes

This past Tuesday afternoon, Shelley, as part of the Fiddleheads fiddle group, performed for the children that gathered for the city library's opening of their Summer Reading Program. It was held inside the city council chambers. The room was full, holding about fifty children and adults. It was a great little performance. In between the opening and closing portions of the performance, the librarian described the reading programs for children and teens, as he well as a couple of other events happening during the summer.

For the past week Shelley has been trying out a different violin, and yesterday we purchased it. Since we don't have a local instrument shop, the two choices we have are to get it shipped in somehow, or find someone in town that wants to sell theirs. Fortunately we were able to get an instrument from a local family wanting to sell theirs. The instrument itself is a beginner's instrument. But it came with a nice case. :)

Monday, June 04, 2007

How much of hot pepper innards to remove...

I'm still trying to figure out how much of the innards of serrano chiles to remove. If I take it all out, there's really not much point in cooking with them. Leaving in too much means the dishes are way too hot for most people.

This evening, I left in most of the middle fuzz and about a dozen seeds for a green bean dish. Amy's first reaction was a startled yelp. I tried it and discovered that, yes, it was on the warmer side. Both girls did finish (together with generous helpings of plain yogurt) the serving that I had placed on their dishes.

It's looking as if they're getting their taste buds conditioned to spicier foods. Later in the evening, after they returned from the pool and Elise came home, both girls decided to have more of the green beans. From hearing Shelley talk about it, I think that Shelley is learning the pleasures that come with spicy hot foods.

So maybe I don't need to worry so much about finding a precise measure of how much of the innards to leave in... Maybe I can continue to increase the heat level...

What's your theological worldview? - A quiz

Here is my result, which I don't find at all surprising. The first two I would say are statistically identical, so the results say my theology is based very much in the Adventist/Methodist/Wesley/Arminian tradition but interpreting it in a postmodern/progressive/emergent context.

You scored as Emergent/Postmodern,You are Emergent/Postmodern in your theology. You feel alienated from older forms of church, you don't think they connect to modern culture very well. No one knows the whole truth about God, and we have much to learn from each other, and so learning takes place in dialogue. Evangelism should take place in relationships rather than through crusades and altar-calls. People are interested in spirituality and want to ask questions, so the church should help them to do this.



Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan


Reformed Evangelical


Neo orthodox


Classical Liberal




Modern Liberal


Roman Catholic




What's your theological worldview?
created with

Bible Reading 2007, Week 23

The readings for this week are found in 1 Kings 1-8; 1 Chronicles 28-29; and Psalms 31-34, 71, 90, 102.

These chapters recount the end of David's reign and the beginning of Solomon's.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Another week in review

This past week was mostly showery with a few sunbreaks. But Friday was almost like a summer day. The skies were fair, the sun came through, there were no showers, and the temperature hit around 60F. I went out on my first of the season, longer-than-one-hour bike ride out Mitkof Highway and back. Going out must have been mostly tailwind, because on the return it was headwind nearly all the way. I also discovered that the north side of the island is much cooler than the south side. As soon as I came up and over PFI hill on the north end of town, the air became noticeably chillier. It must be all the air coming down through Frederick Sound that is cooler than the air coming up from the south from downtown on south.

This past week was also one of waiting for the signed purchase agreement to come back to us. It finally did on Thursday. I got it faxed to our lender, but it turns out that the person I'm working with had a family emergency. I received a call from another person on Friday letting me know that loan processing will begin on Monday. Life is unpredictable -- I guess that's just how things go.

Last Tuesday, Shelley brought back a new, used fiddle to try out. According to the instructor, it isn't quite as nice as the one she is currently borrowing, but good enough for now. We still need to contact the owner to find out how much she wants for it.

I purchased a 7-year old downloadable home design software. All I wanted was a way to draw out the basic floor plan and the ability to move furniture around and visualize it, so age of software didn't really matter as long as it would work. It was the least expensive option at $9.99 and had the benefit of being able to use it immediately without waiting for the mail to arrive. It's been Shelley that's spending the most time with it. She's got most of the floors draw into it.

We had a small group at church yesterday. A few of our members were out on their boat at the Stikine river. The mouth of the Stikine is about 8 miles east of the southeastern tip of Mitkof Island. (Petersburg is at the northern tip of the island.) The Stikine goes up the mainland, crosses the border between the U.S. and Canada, and goes deep inside Canada. There are a number of hot springs along the river that people can simply wade into. We visited the members in the evening and they said they saw moose and bears. They went to the border and turned around. In order to go through, the border patrol needs to be called ahead of time so that they can meet you at the border and clear you through.

I walked about in the muskeg trails to the Post Office and back in the afternoon. The muskeg is starting to show its spring blooms. Yellow, magenta, pink, and white flowers are in bloom everywhere. I've got to get myself out there with a camera to capture a few of the colors.

Today is Shelley's birthday. I'm not sure if we'll be doing anything particularly special today. I think she's planning to have a party on the 14th of the month.

Over the last few days Elise has been called in to work to replace one person or another that isn't feeling well and so on. It certainly doesn't look like there will be any shortage of work for nurses here.

The house was inspected this afternoon. (The individual performing the inspection, we discovered, also lives in our apartment complex.) There really wasn't a whole lot that needed work. A couple of loose railings and a couple of missing GFIs on outlets. There was, however, a tree in the back that is looking about to fall over. We hadn't noticed this in the previous visits, so it must be new. If it does fall before it gets taken out, from how it's leaning, it will fall onto the back lawn without hurting anything else. This is one thing the seller will likely take care of soon.

Both girls have been over at the Herbrandsons today working on their little garden patches and baking some cookies. Elise headed over there following the inspection.

It's a sunny and warm day today. The forecast this morning said temps will reach 75F with thunderstorms possible this evening, but I don't think that'll happen. It's currently just above 60F. A sunny day in the 60's is a summer day around here.

That wraps up the set of updates for this week.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Sermon: Be Yourself

(Click on above title link to listen to sermon MP3 audio.)

Sermon is based on John 4:19-26 (ESV). The key text is John 4:23-24 from The Message translation.

In this sermon I try to make sense of what Jesus meant when he said that true worshipers will worship God in spirit and truth. The Message translation brings a perspective that helps me understand a dimension of what Jesus likely meant.

As it has been with my recent sermons, the children's story is integral to the sermon. It provides some historical and cultural background to the Samaritan woman's question to Jesus.

Children's Story: "Owning" God

"Owning" God

Hi kids! Can you own God? [Wait for responses.]

Where does God live? [Wait for a few responses.]

Churches are often called "houses of God." Does God live inside a church? Does God live in this building? [See Acts 7:48, 17:24.]

So where does God live? [Wait for a few responses.]

People who lived long time ago often believed that gods lived in special places. These places may have been things like furniture, rocks, trees, houses, or temples. Idols were thought of as places where a god lived.

Because they thought a god could live in things and buildings, they thought they could own gods. Even though gods were powerful, the people believed that by doing just the right things and by giving just the right offerings, the gods could be made to do what the people wanted.

Some of these people believed that there were many gods and each god had power over a small section of the world. They believed that when a person left one god's section of the world, they would have to worship the god controlling the next section if they wanted to be safe and prosperous.

Some of these people thought that by carrying objects that were special to their god, they could carry a piece of their god around, even if they were traveling in an area controlled by, what they thought, was a different god.

Even the ancient Israelites, the nation that eventually became the Jews and the Samaritans, thought this way. There was a time when the army asked for a special furniture item in their church to be brought out because they thought God lived in this furniture and would help them. (It turns out that God didn't help them in this case.) They were commanded to bring their offerings to their temple, because that is where they believed God was present in a special way. When their temple was destroyed, they thought God had left them because they believed that God had to have a place to live.

The Jews and Samaritans during the years that Jesus was on earth also believed something like this. The Jews thought that they could only worship in Jerusalem because they believed that was where God lived. The Samaritans thought the proper place of worship was a mountain called Mount Gerizim, because that was a special place where in past history, God often associated himself.

But Jesus came and told us that where we worship isn't nearly as important as the attitude we have when we worship. Jesus told us that we can worship anywhere as long as we want to have God come meet with us.

After Jesus went back to heaven, a person named Stephen and a person named Paul said that God doesn't live in temples and things made by people. Paul also said that when we choose to become God's person, we become his temple and the Holy Spirit, who is God, comes to live in us.

When we choose to become God's person and the Holy Spirit lives in us, we become able to really worship God.

Many people worship God because they think they have to, or because they're afraid of him. Many people think, like the people of long ago, that by worshiping God in just the right way, they can control him. But people who have the Holy Spirit living in them worship God because they love him. They worship God because they are thankful for all the help God gives in living life.

Jesus said that God is looking for people who worship him because they love him with all their hearts. Do you want to be that kind of person?

Friday, June 01, 2007

Garbanzo (Chickpea) Paella

Most paella recipes call for using lots of shellfish and chicken. If you aren't into that sort of thing, what do you use as substitutes for those ingredients? Some might use soy or wheat based imitation meat substances. But what if you don't particularly care for those, or can't find them readily available?

My solution this evening was to use a can of garbanzo beans (chickpeas). The result won't match that with chicken and shellfish, but if you don't know any better, then it's a perfectly acceptable result.

While squeezing the diced tomatoes, I sprayed myself with some of the juice. Fortunately I was wearing a fairly dark, synthetic shirt (rather than white cotton), so it looks like all of the juice washed off without leaving a stain.

Here's the recipe:

Garbanzo (Chickpea) Paella

Serves 8-10

  • 4 tbsp. olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed or finely chopped
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 or 2 bell peppers, sliced into strips (or equivalent frozen strips)
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, drained and squeezed (or equivalent fresh tomatoes)
  • 2 cups medium grain rice
  • 4 cups vegetable broth (or chicken broth, if you prefer)
  • A pinch of saffron (approx 1/4 tsp. of threads, crushed with mortar and pestle)
  • 1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 lemon, sliced into wedges


  1. In a large (12-inch or so with high sides) skillet, heat oil over medium high heat. When hot, fry garlic until fragrant, about a minute. Add onions and fry until they start to turn golden. Add pepper strips and fry until they start to become tender (or until most of the water from the ice evaporates).
  2. Add tomatoes and stir to mix. Add rice and stir to mix until coated well with sauce.
  3. Add broth and saffron. Stir to mix well. Add garbanzos on top (do not stir). Bring to boil, then reduce heat to medium low, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
  4. Check to make sure rice is done, then turn off heat. Leave skillet on burner to keep warm and to allow rice to finish absorbing any remaining water.
  5. Serve hot with lemon wedges on side.