Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Dust (lack of), heating oil, etc.

One of the little details that I noticed almost immediately was the lack of dust in the house. I'm sure there is still dust, but compared to the apartment, it's as if there isn't any. In the apartment, everything was always covered with dust. Even after dusting, wiping, vacuuming, a new coat of dust would settle on everything in a matter of a couple of hours. I'm not sure what all the reasons are behind it. I thought maybe it was simply that Petersburg is more dusty, and that it was like this everywhere. Or maybe it's just the apartments. Or because it's right next to the main road.

I'm happy to discover that the dust in the apartment was probably an anomaly. After the move, I haven't noticed much in the way of any dust settling on things. This is probably a lot better for the computers, too.

Last week I set up our heating oil delivery service and the truck came in to top off the tanks today. It came to a little over 300 gallons... and $1,000. I hope our coming winter is mild...

Even though the sun came out today, I only moved a few items. I moved all of the book boxes from the bedroom into the front room, but when I tried to get the handtruck under the boxes, it wouldn't slide underneath. The boxes are no longer very stiff from being opened and restacked many times. So the bottom box won't tilt when the top box is leaned away. I'll just wait until I have someone else to help me.

I've been adjusting to the new cooking temperatures on our cooktop. I think that "medium" is really medium now (instead of medium-low in the apartment), and the lowest setting is still enough to maintain a good simmer.

There is open space on either side of the cooktop, which means much more freedom to use large pots and pans, even simultaneously. In the apartment there was a refrigerator immediately on the right and on the immediate left we had our toaster oven on the counter because there was no place else to put it. It was quite cramped. Now we have open countertop on both sides. Until I've lived with cramped quarters, I never realized how important open space is for cooking.

The girls are getting ready to go to camp. They leave around noon tomorrow on the camp boat to Vank Island.

Monday, July 30, 2007

All day rain...

It was fortuitous that we chose to go ahead and move the couch yesterday instead of waiting until today. If we had waited, it wouldn't have happened because it rained fairly heavily all day long.

Instead, I got some grocery shopping done. I also replaced our very worn out skillet with two saute pans, a really big one and a small one. I was hoping to find stainless steel pans without the non-stick coating, but the only ones like it that I found here were $100 and up each. I think the cheaper ones with the non-stick surface will work just fine for now...

There was a power failure this evening -- a fairly common occurrence during bad weather. Shelley returned home from work right in the middle of it. She wasn't too pleased that she wasn't able to reheat her dinner. She chose to wait until the power returned.

Meanwhile, since I couldn't do much else, I organized the canned and dry goods cupboard by flashlight. When I was nearly done, the power returned. After finishing with the canned and dry goods, I went ahead and organized the spice cupboards.

In the apartment, trying to find the right canned item or the needed spice almost always involved some detective work -- pulling out half the spices, or searching through multiple cupboards to find the desired can... I think that nuisance is a thing of the past.

Both girls will be going to summer camp starting this Wednesday. Our highly unreliable weather forecast says that there could be sun during the second half of this week. That would be nice for the campers.

Bible Reading 2007, Week 31

This week's readings are found in Nehemiah (the whole book); Ezekiel 40-48; and Psalms 136-143.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

More furniture moving...

Today we resumed our move. Not only did we resume it, but we were able to complete moving all of the big pieces of furniture.

The dining table was the first and easiest. The dining buffet (the bottom of the china cabinet) was next and also not terribly difficult. The next item was the china cabinet top. With all the glass, not only was this the most fragile piece, but also one of the heavy ones with very little in the way of good handholds. The rain also started to come down at this time. With Shelley helping out, there were four of us moving all these items. With care and plenty of hands, the china cabinet was successfully moved and placed atop the buffet.

Our digital piano was a bit heavier than we expected. Though again, we were able to move it out and in successfully. The neighbor across the street helped us with this item and the buffet.

By then it was well past lunch time, so Deloris returned home and we had some lunch. Elise took a nap (she works tonight), and the rain started up again. I called to say that we probably would hold off on moving the couch until tomorrow.

The children and I went to the church to pick up a few items, stopped at the hardware store to purchase a short utility hose to hook up to the dehumidifier in the basement, and then came home. I was down in the basement connecting the hose and routing the other end to the sump pump, and then worked to connect the phone jacks in one of the bedrooms to the junction box.

During that time, the kids must have gotten into a little argument, because when I came up to test the phone connections, Elise was awake. The skies had also dried up. I asked if she was up to moving the couch, and the answer was yes, so I called Deloris and inquired if she was willing to come and help us with the couch. She was, and not only that but our upstairs neighbor at the apartment was also willing to help.

I measured the door opening again and thought that we might be able to get away without taking off the doors. It would be worth a try, anyway. The refrigerator was on wheels, so after emptying it to lighten it, it was a simple matter to roll it into the middle of the kitchen.

We got the couch out of the apartment, into the truck, up the hill, and then out of the truck. The five of us made our way up the narrow path, crushing ferns, salmonberry canes, and skunk cabbage along the way.

We got it to the back door and began to make our way in. It was fine until the very end of the couch. We couldn't swing the couch about enough to get the legs inside. The screen door was fine, but the main door had to come off. The pins couldn't come off without first taking the door trim off. And then our neighbor suggested that we simply take all the screws off the hinge. (Duh...)

With that done, the couch again made it almost all the way again. It was caught on something -- the spring attached to the screen door. By backing up a bit and moving the whole couch down, it made it all the way in.

The next challenge was to get it past the wall and kitchen cabinets. Would it make it? With just a fraction of an inch to spare, it made it through and off to clear sailing. The only remaining obstacle was the counter that the couch had to be lifted up over. Just a few more steps, a few turns, and the couch was set down in place.

There are still plenty of items and boxes left to move, but the most difficult and challenging items are done. The washer is probably the only other difficult item. I did get the laundry room door unstuck, and discovered that it was not meant to be used. There is a plastic barrier sealed all the way around between the interior and exterior doors. In order to move in the washer and dryer, we will have to remove the plastic and then put it back after the move.

After all this, I don't ever want to move again...

Here is what the living and dining rooms look when furnished.

Yesterday Afternoon

Following church, we had the whole church over to our house for lunch. Deloris provided all the food -- quite a bit in quantity, and I'm sure a lot more in time and effort. It was well appreciated by everyone, especially us. I'm still wondering how she managed to get it all done, and help us move, too.

There were fifteen people in our house, and it didn't seem crowded at all. That's a good thing, because the primary reason for wanting a large house was to be able to host different gatherings and events -- church and otherwise. Our first, test run went smoothly.

Later, we went to Blind River Rapids with another family. We spent some time there, chatting and watching the fish in the water. There were schools of different types of trout (Cutthroats, and Dolly Vardens) jumping around quite vigorously just a few feet from where we were standing. In the deeper waters we saw quite a few late King Salmon and possibly some Pinks and Dogs (Chum) moving upstream.

Our hot tub has also been getting some use. (I have not been in it yet.) The mom and a daughter that we went to the Rapids with came over later in the evening for some supper and a soak in the hot tub.

Sermon: Common and Ordinary

(Click here for sermon audio.)

This sermon is a discussion of John 6:22-42. This passage is the first part of Jesus' discourse about the Bread of Life with the Galileans in the synagogue at Capernaum.

Because of our property purchase settlement, followed by the move, it was one of those weeks where I simply could not focus enough to prepare adequately. So I went through the passage, discussing some of the things I learned during the week, and prayed that God would lead the discussion along to an adequate conclusion. I don't know how successful I was in communicating my thoughts.

I didn't have much of a children's story prepared -- just a short illustration about a few items that we often take for granted and to us appear common and ordinary can, to someone else, be a life saver -- a miracle even. This is the first part of the sermon audio.

Some of the thoughts and ideas I spoke about in the sermon included Jesus' perspective on the relationship between faith and works; a side discussion on how we can better understand and interpret New Testament writers' use of Old Testament references and allusions; and how things that we might see as common and ordinary, when set apart for God, becomes holy.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

21st Century furniture in early 20th house...

We continued our move yesterday. Elise and I moved a number of things in the morning. I couldn't focus on putting together the sermon, so while Elise got some sleep, I went back to load up and transport a few more things.

Seeing that it was getting to be late afternoon, I went to the grocery store to pick up a few items I needed for supper. And then I went back to the apartment to get another load. While there, Deloris caught me and said she would be back to help move some furniture.

I unloaded our pickup, and then returned to the apartment to move some of the furniture. Deloris thought we should move the couch -- 42 in. x 33 in. x 7 ft. and weighing quite a bit. We got it moved around and ready to go. I had picked up my end and began to move, but Deloris wasn't ready, and so her end dropped to the floor. I checked the couch to see if it was okay, and as far as I can tell, it still looks fine. But we decided that we should move some of the smaller and less bulky items first.

It was a good thing we did, because after getting to the house, we measured the front door width. It measured 30 inches... The couch will not fit through the front door. The back door, when the door and the screen door are off their hinges, has a 34-inch width. The problem is that between the back and the living room, there is a kitchen. The path that we have to take is constricted by a refridgerator. There is a possibility that by standing the couch on end and spinning it around, it might get through the space without moving the refridgerator. If not, then it will have to be moved out. And then after getting past that point, the couch has to be lifted up and over counter to get it into the dining area after which the move into the living room will not be a problem.

The other options are much less desirable -- such as remodeling the front door to increase it to say 40-inches. Or taking apart the couch and reassembling it... Houses in the 1930's were not designed to handle furniture designed for 21st century homes.

I also measured for the washer and dryer... There is a set of doors on the room that leads directly out, but it is stuck and we haven't been able to open it. But in order to get the washer and dryer in, and the old ones out, we will have to get those doors unstuck. We could try to bring it in through the back door, but we would then have to lift the units over the heater. I didn't really pay attention until now, but now I see how much narrower entries and hallways used to be.

Friday, July 27, 2007

One full day in the house

Yesterday, we spent our first full day in the house. Towards the end of the day we got an e-mail letting us know that the closing had completed and the property is now officially ours. (Well, except for that little minor detail called the mortgage, where the lender has a stake in it as well...) We also received a small boquet of flowers from the broker congratulating us.

While Elise was getting her sleep, I moved the contents of the refridgerator and freezer, some other food items, and a few other things. Our kitchen, at least, is in a fairly usable state now. We really do need to replace the dishwasher, add a garbage disposal, and replace the faucet/sprayer unit. I don't know if the latter can be done by itself, or if the whole sink needs to be replaced...

Did you also know that butter remains pretty solid at 60-65F? We have a butter bell which is supposed to keep the butter at room temperature and soft. It does the room temperature bit quite well, in fact we have the butter just sitting out in the open now, but soft, it is not.

I guess I didn't get enough sleep the night before, because yesterday afternoon, I was nodding off while doing some work on tomorrow's sermon. I got into bed and took a nap for a couple of hours.

I slept much better last night with half of the blinds drawn down. The back of the room faces quite a few trees so it doesn't get too bright, but the front side, open to the view is where all the light pours in.

Shelley seems to be enjoying working. She doesn't say much about it, even when I ask... (Typical of teens...?)

There's more moving to be done. We need to get more of our clothing moved in.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Another thing...

One other things that kept me awake last night was a drip, drip, drip... in the middle of the night. I wondered what plumbing was leaking in our bathroom. I looked around and could find nothing. Was it inside the wall? I went to the downstairs bathroom and could hear the same sound. But it was in an area where there shouldn't be any plumbing.

Hmm... The thought occurred to me that it might be raining. I looked out on the deck and saw that it was wet. Unless I find some other cause, I'm going to assume that the sound is from water dripping into the downspout.

Yesterday was a bright, clear, sunny day. Today, it is very wet again.

The cats were rowdy...

The cats were rather rowdy overnight, becoming one of the reasons for me not sleeping very well. They were running around, dashing up and down the stairs, meowing, etc. Even our normally lazy, big, sea cucumber-like Stripey has been quite active in his explorations, and has been meowing more than Vivvy.

The other reason for not sleeping well is that I didn't close the blinds, and discovered, with all the windows now in our room, that the skies get quiet bright around 3:30 a.m. Amy discovered that also. She, normally one to stay in bed until 9 or 10 a.m. (and later if we let her), was up and about around 6 a.m. this morning.

The heaters are set to 60F, and the house is pretty close to that. With heating oil at over $3/gallon, we do what we can. It really isn't too bad -- I'm in a pair of shorts and a seatshirt. After living in an apartment where it's been difficult to get the temp below 75F, it's a nice change (at least for me).

More moving to do today, but I should also do a bit more work on this week's sermon.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Moving in...

We began moving the contents of the apartment into the house. We first brought in a table and some folding chairs from the church so that we would have some place to eat and for me to use the computer until our big furniture got moved.

We then began moving some of the kitchen contents. We weren't planning on moving too much more than that, but one of our church members was so eager to help us move tonight that we ended up moving the beds and bedding. So we will be spending our first night at the house.

We thought we might spend a few more days at the apartment, but our Internet connection was moved over this afternoon. When I went in this afternoon to ask for the transfer, I was told it would probably get done Friday. Just an hour or so later, I'm sitting at the kitchen table in the apartment and I see the cable truck drive in. A few seconds later, I no longer have an Internet connection. I make an educated guess that the two things are not just coincidence and so I packed up my cable modem and WiFi router. As soon as I plug all the equipment back in inside the new garage (which is where the cable and CAT5 connections are), I see that the connection is live.

I didn't get around to calling the phone company until late this afternoon, so the phone line transfer will take place some time tomorrow.

We've never done a move where it's only a block from the old to the new. It's probably not the most efficient way, but we've been doing quite a bit of, "I need that," or, "I forgot that," and moving things on foot.

When we realized we were going to be starting our stay at the house tonight, we decided that it was time to move that cats. They were carried in the car for the short trip over and then they were shut in the bathroom for a few hours while other things were moved in and to get them used to their new home. They were let out this evening and as expected, they are slowly getting acquainted with their new surroundings.

I spent the evening replacing most of the incandescent light bulbs with compact flourescents. I'm going to have to order another 25 or so CFL bulbs to finish the job. I'm debating whether or not to spend a rather pricey sum to replace the candle bulbs in the kitchen fixture. That and a light fixture in Shelley's room are the only ones where regular CFL bulbs won't work. I discovered a little while back that CFLs and bathrooms don't seem to get along too well. Something about the moisture significantly reduces the bulb life. So our bathrooms won't get the CFL treatment -- but then, those lights usually don't remain turned on for too long.

We discovered that the hottub cover is very heavy. The roof over the hottub is constructed in such a way that the cover simply can't be lifted up and over -- it hsa to be slid away and out from under the room completely. One person can slide it out, but to put it back on requires at least two.

It's a good thing our large pieces of furniture will remain in the front rooms. There is no way anything of that size could go around some of the corners and up the stairs. Houses from the 1930's and current furniture designed to fit today's huge houses simply don't go together. It took a bit of creative maneuvering to get the queen mattress and boxsprings up the stairs.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

We have the keys

Our funds were received by the title company today. The broker dropped off the keys this evening.  We can begin our move tomorrow. The big effort will be moving all the large pieces of furniture out of the apartment, up the hill, and then into the house. There's also our washer and dryer. Besides those items, everything else should be fairly manageable. We have another month to move out of the apartment and get it cleaned.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Papers signed, almost there

We signed the closing documents this morning, scheduled insurance coverage to start, faxed wire transfer instructions for closing funds, and hopefully the documents will be on their way to the title company and the recording agency today.

The title is scheduled to be transferred on Wednesday.

Shelley is at her first day of work today. Amy is picking wild blueberries in the rain. So that's our Monday.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Bible Reading 2007, Week 30

This week's Bible readings are found in the book of Ezra; Proverbs 30-31; and Isaiah 2-35.

Sermon: Falling in Trust

(Link to audio click here.)

Yesterday's sermon is based on John 6:16-21, the story of Jesus walking on the water. I bring in details from the parallel accounts in Matthew and Mark to flesh out the story a bit more, and to see what John was trying to communicate to the readers of his account of the story.

Children's Story: Falling

Here is the outline of the children's story. Here is the link to the audio as it was told yesterday. The children's responses are difficult to hear and understand since they weren't speaking into the microphone.

  • Ask the children if they would trust you to catch them if you told them to fall backwards into you. Ask why or why not.
    • Make any observations that are appropriate and germane.
  • Demonstrate trust by asking someone to close their eyes and fall backwards into your arms.
    • Make sure it's your own child, or you clear it with the parents first.
    • It might be a good idea to try a couple of times before the story.
  • If there were any children that didn't trust you at the start, ask if they would trust you now.
    • Why or why not?
  • Ask what the child would do if you didn't catch them. Would they trust you again?
    • What if you caught them sometimes, but sometimes not?
    • Ask the other children also.
  • God is much bigger than any of us. He can catch even the biggest of us, even if we fell from a great height.
    • We might find ourselves in difficulties.
    • It might feel like we're falling because of our troubles.
    • But God is always with us to catch us and break our fall.
    • Let's learn to fall in trust with God.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Ten Months

As of today, our time in Petersburg has reached ten months. We've experienced Fall, the snowiest Winter in decades, all of Spring, and are now in midst of Summer.

It's nearly unbelievable that just a year ago we were still trying to figure out how we were going to accomplish the move. We were so overwhelmed with all that had to be done, that we hadn't really done much. We hadn't even contacted any Real Estate brokers...

But that is all past. And speaking of Real Estate... Patience is the watchword around here. The documents that we have to sign are finally in the mail to Petersburg this afternoon. The schedule now is for us to sign on Monday, and then the transfer of title to be recorded on Wednesday, which is when we take possession of the property. I'm still not holding my breath... I'll believe it when we actually get the keys.

Shelley found out that one of the girls she knows, who is just a month older, started her first job yesterday. Shelley also accidentally washed her Tamagotchi.

I tried to take it apart, dry it out and get it working again, but discovered that the connections between the PC Board and the LCD panel is done via some sort of thin layer of conductive adhesive. In the process of taking it apart, it no longer stays together, and there isn't enough pressure in the case to force it together. So unless someone out there has some ideas, the Tamagotchi is dead.

Anyway, Shelley discovered that Amazon sells some versions of the V4 Tamagotchi's for around $15. (They are available here, too, for close to $30 + tax.) But she needs a few more $$$ for that.

Shelley also is getting a little tired and bored of hanging about the house. So all the pieces came together and she found out that Trading Union might have work that she could do. This morning, she left early and returned with a job application. She filled it out and took it in, had her first job interview, and it looks like she will be starting a job next week.

Our little girl is growing up... Though she still says she doesn't want to drive. She's getting close to where she can get a learner's permit...

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Few Photos from Earlier This Year

In my walks about the area, I occasionally take along a film rangefinder camera -- the Voigtlander Bessa-R. It's a wonderfully little, light, 100% manual, mechanical camera.

The whole concept of film, of not knowing exactly how the shot was captured, and the manual-ness of it all is sometimes a nice change from the instant replay, everything can be automatic equipment that I (and most everyone else nowadays) use. It makes me slow down, think about what I want to capture, how I want to capture it, check and double check the settings, focus to precisely the object I want in focus, think about the depth of field, etc. before I trip the shutter. If I goof, well, I likely won't know about it for several months.

I use a fairly wide, 35mm lens - no zoom. (I do have a 50mm lens for it also, but don't use it very often.) That means I've got to use my feet for composing the frame. It's an interesting and useful exercise. If I want a subject larger in the frame, I've got to walk closer to it. If I want to eliminate distracting elements, I've got to move around until I can find a way to hide them behind a foreground object, or move around until the distractions are no longer in the frame (sometimes difficult with a wide angle lens).

I recently had developed a roll that I've had in there since the beginning of the year. I was curious to see if there was anything interesting and worthwhile. Most of the roll were ho-hum images. The ones below are the ones that stood out over the rest.

Middle Harbor 

Spring Muskeg 

Pine and Petersburg Mountain 


Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Still waiting on the property

Yes, we are still waiting on the property sale to close. The latest word is that we will sign the papers this week for a Monday (Jul-23) close. I'm trying to see if that can be pushed up to Friday because the revised rate lock expires that day. It's pretty much to the point where I won't be sure of the close until after it actually happens. It seems that around here, even a 45-day close is optimistic. So I guess we'll just sit and wait until it happens.

A bit of dancing

There is a family from Sweden visiting Petersburg. From what I heard, they teach dance back home. The father plays the fiddle. I don't know what all the different connections are, but this evening Shelley was invited to be part of a little get together -- not exactly a workshop, but more like a sharing of music and dance. Heidi Lee, who teaches Norwegian dance here and leads the Leikarring dancers was there with a few of the dancers. A few of the fiddlers and guitarists were also there.

Because the day was so sunny and warm, the whole group met outside at the Lutheran church parking area. The Swedes taught a few of their dances, and Heidi taught a few of the Norwegian ones. A few fiddle tunes were played.

Shelley joined in for quite a few of the dances when the fiddles weren't playing. I joined in for a couple of the dances and learned a Viking dance and some kind of an Eastern European dance. Hey, maybe I have a future as a folk dancer... or NOT!  Sorry, no photos of my embarrassing moments as I'm fumbling the dance steps.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Sermon: Danger! Signs Up Ahead!

This week I discuss the story of the feeding of the five-thousand as recorded in John 6:1-15. I focus on verses 2 and 14 where John writes about the "signs" of Jesus and the effect they had on the crowd. The crowd saw the signs, and even connected Jesus correctly to the prophecy in Deuteronomy 18:15-18, yet many ultimately failed to believe in Jesus. In this sermon, I explore the potential dangers that can lurk in our use and understanding of God's signs to us.

There is no separate children's story this week. The sermon introduction serves a bit like one.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Sunny and hot yesterday

We didn't quite make the record books yesterday. The official airport weather station reported a high of 80F. The record is 81F set in 1989.

The north side of the island, where we live, consistently seems to be 5 to 10 degrees lower than what the station reports.

In any case, it was definitely hot -- at least around here. People were out and about, commenting about how summer had finally arrived. It looks like summer will stay around at least for much of today (though a little cooler -- about 70) before going away for another few days. After all, we do live in a rain forest...

Update 11:40 a.m.: My prediction was wrong (and likewise the official weather forecast). Rain is now starting to come down... Ahh... the rainforest.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Ripening Berries

The salmonberries are starting to ripen. Today was a beautifully sunny and dry day, quite unlike the earlier part of the week. Monday and Tuesday we experienced quite heavy rains. But that is now just a memory (until the next big rains come) and all we see are high clouds, blue sky, sun on the hills, and salmonberries turning shades of salmon (duh!), pink, and red.

I tasted one and it was quite sour. They're about 1/2 to 3/4 inches in length and about as half as wide. They are hollow inside with a large "cap" that connects the berries to the stem.

Amy picking some berries 

Shelley picking some berries


A few red salmonberries

How shall we view inspiration of Scripture?

This morning I dropped by the office of one of the pastors in town. We got to talking about different topics. During the course of conversation, it became clear that this person holds to a fairly rigid, authoritative, and literalistic view of the Bible. For this person, I got the sense that issues that come up in life always have a black and white answer.

I don't agree with it, but I respect this person's position. From our conversation, it certainly appears that God had worked and is still working through this person and through this particular set of lenses into the Bible and life.

That seems to be one of the themes in the Bible: God works through us imperfect humans, with our imperfect visions and imperfect understandings. God works in ways that do stretch our vision and understanding, but not so much so that his communications to us would be lost completely. In other words, I believe that God custom-tailors his communications to each person to allow it to fit each person's experience, understanding, faith, and expectations.

This quarter's Mission Quarterly (adult) contains stories from West-Central Africa that seem almost unbelievable and alm0st fanciful, at least from our perspective. (There is one story where a person dies and is resurrected three times in response to prayer...) If God worked like that in North America, most of us wouldn't believe it and would likely dismiss it as fantasy. So I do believe that God still today works within human cultures and experiences. He works differently in North America than he does in Africa, differently in Europe than in Asia, and so on.

If God works that way today, I believe he did so during the period in which the books of the Bible were authored. The Bible was written by people in a particular culture at a certain point in time for the same audience. North Americans in the 21st century was not the intended audience.

When we are faced with life issues, is it appropriate to ask, as the minister I spoke with this morning believes, "What does the Bible say about it?" Should we simply take the literal words that we find and apply it directly to the questions that we have?

Or should we take a little more time to understand the historical and cultural contexts, try to figure out what God was trying to communicate about himself, and then try to extract the larger principle that might lead to an application that is appropriate and fitting for our time, place, and individual circumstances? Some might say I'm being rather relativistic. And I won't deny that. But the more I read about God in the Bible, the more it appears to me that he deals with people one-on-one and adjusts his response accordingly. The one principle that doesn't seem to change is that God is always love: God always responds in a way to try to draw each person closer to him, to help each person personally experience his love and grace. The method God uses varies for each person.

I think it's important to know where we stand on our view of the inspiration of Scripture. How we understand the inspiration of the Bible has a big effect on how we see God and how we choose to interact with other people. 

If you're interested in seeing what other people think (on both sides of the spectrum), there's a big, online debate going on over at The Spectrum Blog on the topic of Inspiration of Scripture.

Another place to gain insight into the topic of biblical inspiration is in the book (complete book posted online), More Than a Prophet, by Graeme S. Bradford. The first part of the book discusses the general nature of biblical inspiration. The second part discusses inspiration as applied to Ellen G. White.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The closing is in sight

The property appraisal report finally came in today. All of the documents are now together and are on their way to the Title Company. So if no other hiccups arise along the way, maybe by Thursday or Friday next week we should have things wrapped up and signed.

We've been having cool, rainy, and wet days since Sunday. I've been thinking about it, and as far as my own preference is concerned, I'd much rather it be cool and wet than hot and sunny (like I know many readers are currently experiencing). Again, my preference; not anyone else's.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Sermon: Why Bother...?

(Click on above title link for MP3 sermon audio.)

This week I discuss a few insights that I discovered for my own self in John 5:18-47. It has to do with the question, "Why should I bother to share the gospel?"

Children's Story: An Invitation

There are times when the responses children give to the questions asked of them are so unexpected that the whole story gets derailed and it's a struggle to get back on track so that at least the point of the story can be made. Today was one of those times. Here is what should have happened.

An Invitation

Have you ever received an invitation to a party? Have you ever been invited to a party where the invitation gives you permission to invite your friends, too? If you received an invitation like that, would you keep it to yourself? [The expected answer is that, no, they would of course go and invite their friends.] When you have good news, it's hard to keep it to yourself.

Let's suppose that your mom and dad have to go away for an extended time to a foreign country, perhaps several months or a couple of years. Maybe it's for their work and they can't bring you along. You spend this time with perhaps your grandparents, or with an aunt and uncle. After some time has passed, they let you know that they're coming back to take you with them to live in this other country.

Would you want to go live with them? [The expected response is, "Yes." However, this is where the story derailed today...] But what if, during the time your mom and dad were away, you were told that your mom and dad really were harsh and mean, that they didn't really want you, and that they were only coming back to take you with them so that they could put you to work? Would you still want to go with them?

Let's imagine that instead, you had gone with your mom and dad, but for whatever reason, several of your brothers and sisters had to be left behind until things were ready to bring them along, too. And it was your brothers and sisters that had been told that your mom and dad were harsh and mean. When you and your mom and dad came to bring your brothers and sisters back to their new home, they say they don't want to come because they don't like mom and dad. Would you do or say anything to them?

What is God like? [Responses may vary, but hopefully most of them are something along the lines of: God loves us, He's a friend, He talks with us, etc.]

God has sent an invitation to everyone that He is building a home for everyone and that He is coming soon to take us all back. But there are many people today who think that God is harsh and mean, waiting to catch someone doing wrong so that He can punish them. And they don't want to be with a God like that. If you know that God is not like that, would you want to tell them that God isn't like that? What can you do to help them see what God is really like?

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Not gloating or anything but...

I hear rumors that many of our family and friends are possibly experiencing very hot, triple-digit (or close to it) temperatures. 

We may be getting wet (from the rain) in Petersburg, but at least we're feeling quite comfortable in our 50-60F days (which, by the way, is plenty warm enough to go about in T-shirt and shorts).

I vaguely recall something called an "air-conditioner" (which couldn't keep up anyway once the temps hit triple-digits)... Maybe it was in some kind of dream or vision... perhaps of another world...

Property Update

There's bad and good news. First the bad: We haven't closed yet, and we have yet to hear about the appraisal report (it is supposed to be completed and get to the lender today). Once that part is done, the property insurance needs to be arranged -- it's in process but again, there's that little dependency that needs to complete first.

The good news is that the rate lock was extended out two more weeks, so we have a little bit more time in which to sign and close the purchase. Hopefully everything will come together by then.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

4th of July Fireworks

The rain came down through much of the afternoon, but by evening it let up and the clouds thinned out a bit. We started to hear some fireworks start to go off around 10:30 p.m. but right around that time, the rain again started coming down heavily. But another 15 minutes or so later, the rain let up again. So we piled into our vehicle and drove up the 1/2 mile or so towards the ballfield where we could see the fireworks being displayed.

There probably aren't too many places around the U.S. where a person can start out for the fireworks display after they've started, and still find a great place to view them. Petersburg is one of those places.

Here are a few photos from the show tonight.

(And I even got this posted before the 5th!)

4th of July Parade

Like every other location in the U.S., we too, had a parade this morning. The rain held off until the parade finished. Here are a few scenes from the parade and the preceding preparations. Click on the contact sheet image to go to the gallery.

Amy walked in the parade as part of the Lutheran church's VBS float.

Fourth of July consists of day-long festivities. (A few events actually started two days ago.) There are vendors, food booths, and carnival games lined up along much of Main Street. It is closed off to through traffic so there are plenty of people milling on and about.

There is also a beer garden... The Baptist pastor's little boy asked about the pavilion up the road a block. When I mentioned that it was the beer garden, the Baptist pastor remarked that there are certain places where it would not be a good idea for certain people -- say a Southern Baptist minister -- to be seen in its proximity. The same can be said for Adventist ministers...

There are various games and events going on throughout the day. Due to our rather northern latitude, our fireworks are scheduled to go off around 11 p.m. The rain is coming down quite heavily now. Rain or shine, the fireworks will go on, but I wonder how much of it will be visible and where will we choose to view it?

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Bible Reading 2007, Week 27

We are entering the second half of the year.

This week's readings are in 2 Kings 21-25; Micah; Nahum; 2 Chronicles 33-36; and Isaiah 36-39.

Sermon: Independence Day?

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

Yesterday's sermon (June 30) explores the story of the paralyzed man at the pool of Bethesda in John 5:1-18.

I believe there are significant thematic relationships between the concepts of healing, salvation, Sabbath, grace, and mercy that are found in this story. I try to bring some of them out in the sermon and challenge all of us to reconsider the greater purpose and meaning of the Sabbath.

I make a couple of references back to the children's story, which you will likely want to read first.

Children's Story: Independence or Freedom?

What holiday is coming up next week? (Fourth of July, Independence Day)

Why do we celebrate the Fourth of July, Independence Day? (Pause.)

Way back, some 230 or so years ago now, there were people living on the east coast of the country we live that today we call the United States. At the time, many of these people were British citizens, and the land that they lived on was part of the British Empire.

At least they thought they were. They were supposed to obey the king and do what he told them to do. The problem though, was the British government, the king, was treating the people in the American colonies differently than the citizens who lived in the British Isles. The Americans felt like they were being treated unfairly, as servants of a king who simply demanded more and more from them. The king and the government thought they could get away with it because the colonists lived so far away and thought that there wasn't a whole lot that the colonists could do about it.

But the American colonists, still British citizens, didn't appreciate the way they were being treated. At least some of them thought the only way to solve the problem was to rebel against the king by declaring themselves independent from the king and the British government. This led to what we call today the Revolutionary War. This war lasted a number of years. In the end, the American colonists won and the new nation of America was born.

This is the reason we celebrate Independence Day on the 4th of July. This was the day, in 1776, when the Declaration of Independence was signed. This was when the American colonists decided that they no longer wanted to be part of the British Empire and ruled by the British king. This was when the colonists declared that they wanted to decide for themselves how to run the country.

Kids, do you think you have enough freedom in your life? (Pause.) Are there times you wish you had more freedom? (Pause.) Do you think you'd have more freedom if you left home? Declared yourself independent from your mom, dad, or other people that take care of you? (Pause.)

What would happen if you left home? (Pause.)

  • Might end up in trouble and in jail... And lose any freedom you might have had.
  • You'll have to find a way to get food, clothes, place to live... Which means you'll have to work or spend lots of time gathering, building, and making things. Again you'll probably have less freedom than you have today.
  • Ask any adult how much freedom they have to do the things they really want... Probably not as much as they'd like.

Did you know that way back, many thousands of years ago, there was an Independence Day? It didn't involve a lot of fireworks and celebration though. It was in the Garden of Eden. Do you recall the story of Adam and Eve?

Adam and Eve were created by God to be His friends. He gave them everything they would need and want. They weren't made to be God's servants, or God's workers. They were made to be God's friends.

But Adam and Eve were deceived -- by a serpent, a snake. You've probably seen pictures that someone drew of what he or she thought happened -- a big, huge, thick, ugly snake wrapped around a gnarly tree limb, a forked tongue flicking out, hissing to Eve that God was hiding things from them -- that God really wasn't a friend like He was telling them. Perhaps the serpent asked, "Did God really say that He is your friend? You know, He's keeping things from you." Perhaps the snake implied to Adam and Eve that God really wanted them as His servants and even His slaves.

Adam and Eve thought about what the snake said, and began to think that maybe this snake really knew what it was saying to them. They decided to believe what the snake told them, and signed their Declaration of Independence from God.

What they discovered, however, was that by doing so, they cut themselves off from the Source of Freedom, thereby ending up with really, no freedom at all. Things ended up being much worse. They had to work harder, they had to see things die (including their own children), they had to go through pain and suffering, they ended up fighting with one another.

By declaring their independence, they thought they would be more free, but instead, they discovered they became slaves.

But some thousands of years later for them, and two-thousand years before our time, Jesus chose to come into our world. Jesus came to show us how and to help us recover the freedom that was lost back in Eden. Jesus showed and taught that the only way to be really free is to be dependent upon God. Jesus showed us that complete trust upon God gives us complete freedom. Jesus came to repair and heal all of the things that get in the way of people, us, from being able to trust God completely. Every Sabbath can be, if we let it, be a reminder to us that God is always with us and offers us true freedom.

God is with us, not like a boss or a king, demanding that we do things for Him. God is with us as a friend. He wants us to get to know Him, to walk with Him, to talk with Him, to share with Him our lives, to learn to trust Him.

Today, will you let God be your friend? Will you let God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit be your friends?