Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Gift of Colds

Grandpa Tom and Danny came last Thursday and left yesterday. It was wet the entire time. But they and Amy spent quite a bit of time wandering about outdoors, getting wet and muddy (and cold...)

While here, Grandpa Tom developed a cold. (I think it came from the Lower 48... Someone forgot to quarantine it...) Anyway, Amy is down and out with it today; and Shelley is also starting to feel it.

Since I know I've been exposed to this bug, the question now is a matter of if I come down with symptoms, and if I do, how long and severe it will be. I've been using Zicam Oral Spray in hopes that it will reduce both the length and severity.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Sermon: Righteousness and Mercy

(Click HERE for MP3 sermon audio.)

Today's sermon comes from Daniel 4. This is the story of (actually a proclamation by) Nebuchadnezzar about his dream of a great tree and his humbling experience.

The scripture reading was Matthew 5:7, and the key text within the sermon was Daniel 4:27.

In this sermon I explore a possible response to the question, "What kind of worship does God want from us?"

In attempting to find a response, I explore several related areas:

  • What does it mean to "not sin" or "stop sinning?"
  • What is righteousness?
  • What is true conversion?

Responses to these questions help provide a response to the main question. (Hint: I end the sermon with Micah 6:8 which I find to be an apt summary of Daniel 4.)

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Morning Snow Pics

As dawn breaks across the landscape, here's what I saw. (Our front windows face the northwest.)

"No Accumulation?"

Here's the current short-term forecast (emphasis mine):

Nowcast as of 9:00 PM ADT on October 23, 2007


Rain mixed with snow tonight. No accumulation expected. Patchy fog forming by midnight. Visibility decreasing to less than 2 miles at time. Wind variable with gusts to 20 mph becoming northwest 10 to 20 mph around midnight.


The forecast gets it wrong again! I don't know what you see, but I see accumulation... Maybe it won't stay long, but it's there.

I had been reading and had just turned out all the lights. The thought crossed my mind: I wonder what happened to the snowfall? Even though the blinds are all down, there is some light (from the streetlight) that comes through around the edges. And they sure seemed brighter than usual. I peeked around the blind at the head of the bed (to the backyard -- no lights) and I could see the lawn... or what used to be lawn (okay, there's a lot of moss, too). It was of a much lighter color.

I got up to take a look at the front of the house... Yup, snow. I walked into Amy's bedroom (has the best view out) and could definitely see snow blanketing the landscape. And of course I couldn't just let it go and try to go to sleep without first recording it. So here you have it.

Checking my blog records, the first snow like this in 2006 was November 5. If the city was hoping for a less severe winter, tonight is not a good omen of the winter to come...

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Winter approaches Is Here

Just now, while driving about I noticed that some of the raindrops falling onto the windshield wasn't quite smooth. They looked downright slushy... Not very many, but a few. Autumn is quickly making way for winter. Everyone here is hoping that this winter won't be nearly as snowy as last.

Well, the occasional slush has turned into actual snow tonight. It's very wet and mixed with rain so it isn't sticking. (Except for a bit of slush coating the roof surface.) But we are seeing the first snowfall of the season in October. I just checked my blogs from last year and this year the first snow is a week earlier. Last year, I noted that the first snowflakes were seen on October 30.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Stormy Day (video)

The wind has picked up even more. I don't know if there's been a more windy day than today since we've been here.

Click HERE to download a 26 sec. Windows Media video clip of the trees violently swaying in our backyard.

Stormy day

Yesterday was dry, very clear and cold. It all changed by this morning. Today it is still chilly (thought not quite as cold), but very windy and quite wet. There is a wind advisory posted for the remainder of the day, and for good reason. The Narrows are very choppy with whitecaps where it joins the Sound.

Yesterday, when we were out walking, Shelley decided it was warm enough to be out in a sleeveless shirt. The thermometer read 40F. And then later, back inside, she is wearing a jacket. She says it's all about expectations -- since she expects it to be cold outside, it doesn't actually feel that cold. It's supposed to be warm inside, but it isn't, so it feels cold. I'm not quite sure what to make of this...

Elise is on her way to Anchorage today to attend an Alaska nurses' convention. I'm sure the weather will make the flight quite interesting (and not in a good way).

A doe and her fawn (no spots anymore) have been lazily strolling and resting in our yard, feeding on various plant bits. The salmonberry canes are dying off for the winter. The skunk cabbage leaves have all died off and are quickly rotting away. The huge fern leaves are also dead and brown, though being of harder material, they don't decompose quite so quickly. Nearly all the deciduous trees have shed all their leaves.

Bible Reading 2007, Week 43

This week's readings are in the book of Acts. (Chapter 7 was read during week 10.)

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Sermon: Truth Is Life

(Click HERE for MP3 sermon audio.)

Today's sermon concludes John 8 by going through verses 31-59. This is the section where Jesus and some of the Jewish people argue about what it means to be Abraham's son, and at the end they try to stone Jesus.

Elise told me afterwards that she couldn't quite figure out the point I was trying to get at; that the sermon was a bit too technical. I was afraid that might be the case. I thought I emphasized the key points I was trying to communicate, but apparently it did not come through as well as I had hoped.

The key points of the four sections that I broke up today's passage is as follows:

  1. Abiding (verses 31-37)
  2. Imitating (verses 38-41a)
  3. Belonging and Identity (verses 41b-47)
  4. The previous three illustrated (verses 48-59)

And the primary point of the whole sermon was to emphasize that #1, abiding, is the key to everything else that follows.

Children's Story: Zacchaeus

This week, I told the story of Zacchaeus as found in Luke 19:1-10 with a few embellishments. Click HERE to hear it as I told it.

Friday, October 19, 2007

First Frost

Last night we saw the moon clearly in the sky, so I had a feeling it would get cold overnight. I was not mistaken because when I awoke this morning, the ground was frosty and the official temperature at the airport was 32F. My outside thermometer didn't quite hit that low.

The morning was quite foggy. But by afternoon all the fog had burned off and blown away and today turned out to be a very clear day.

Here are two photos from today before the camera battery died.


Amy bicycled to the hospital this morning to do her coffee run. Shelley returned this evening, on the bike, in short sleeves, with an outside temperature of 35F or so.

I'm discovering which parts of the house remain a bit colder than the rest. The living and dining rooms, which are far away from the heater and don't get the benefit of being upstairs (warm air rises...) are colder. I bought a couple of electric space heaters to help keep these two rooms closer to the rest of the house (about 62-63F). I haven't actually calculated the actual costs, but what I hear is that with the oil prices where they are now, electrical heating is on par with oil. If oil prices keeps rising any more, it might make sense to go all electrical.

I think we are all getting acclimated to the cooler temps because when we go somewhere where the temp is 70F (like during our church service), it feels hot after a while.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Dry and windy

After quite a few days of rain, the last couple have been relatively dry. Today, in particular, began partly sunny and has remained that way so far, into the afternoon. It's been windy though, blowing off most of the remaining leaves from the deciduous trees that are in our yard. With the branches vigorously shaking about and the leaves swirling into the air, it looks very much the fall that it is.

I still have some reading to catch up on today, but if I have time later this afternoon, and it is still partly sunny, I'm thinking of heading out for a little bit to take in some of the scenic sights that only appear during weather transitions like we are having today.

Yesterday, I mailed off my malfunctioning camera body to the repair shop. I'll find out what the actual repair estimate is going to be once they look at it. Until that's repaired or I get a replacement, I'm down to my point-and-shoot or the much older Canon D30.

I'm reading several books right now:

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Sermon: Light of Life

(Click HERE to listen to MP3 sermon audio.)

Looking through the past few weeks, one might conclude that I had planned these series of sermons from John on the theme of "Life." But I assure you, that is not the case. Each week as I pondered the key message that I wanted to bring out, it seems that these past few weeks, that has been "Life." It shouldn't be too surprising though, because I get the idea that getting the message that leads to "Life" was one of John's goals in writing his gospel account.

Today, I forgot to bring along my voice recorder. Fortunately, I realized that my laptop has a built-in microphone above the LCD screen (something I didn't realize until just recently -- my laptop is about 8 years old). So just before Sabbath School I tested my recording software to make sure that everything worked and used the laptop as the recording device.

Today's sermon is based on John 8:12-30. It is where Jesus declares himself as the "Light of the world" and then the argument between the Pharisees and Jesus regarding Jesus' right to make such a statement. This passage shows how Jesus tried to bring light to the Pharisees, but they would have none of it: They chose to remain in darkness. This incident is an illustration of John 3:19-21 (the scripture reading today).

Children's Story: Light Box

Props: Several cameras of different shapes, sizes, vintage, technologies, etc. (I used a digital SLR, digital point-and-shoot, and a film rangefinder.)


  • Pull out the cameras and show each one in turn. Briefly describe each one. Emphasize that although they may look different and may operate differently, they are all cameras.
  • Ask, "What is the name used for the process of creating images with a camera?" (Answer: Photography)
  • Ask, "What is the definition of photography? What are the meanings of the roots that make up photograph?" (Answer: photo from the Greek phos, meaning "light," and graphis or graphe, meaning "paintbrush" or "drawing." Photography is "painting with light" or "drawing with light.")
  • Ask, "What is the critical thing needed to make a photograph?" (Answer: Light.)
  • Emphasize the necessity of having light in order to expose the film or collecting light on a digital sensor's photocells.
  • Point to the cameras and note that even though they are all different, the one thing common across all of them are that they are light boxes -- boxes to collect and focus the light and create a image that represents something in the real world.
  • Now note that even in abundant light, a camera just sitting there won't make an image by itself. Ask what needs to be done. (Answer: The shutter must be released.)
  • Describe how the shutter opens to let light shine on the film or on a digital SLR, the digital sensor. (On digital point and shoots, tripping the shutter engages the electronics and software that reads the information off the sensor and records it on the memory card.) In either case, the act of releasing the shutter causes the camera to make a record of the light.
  • "Jesus said that he is the light of the world. The Bible tells us that God wants us to reflect Jesus' image. The Holy Spirit gives us the power to do that. But there is one thing that we must do. What is it?" (Answer: Open the eyes, or shutter, or our hearts to let the light in.)
  • "When we let Jesus shine in our hearts, our hearts begin to record Jesus' image."
  • Describe how the very first cameras had to use very long exposures because the film wasn't very sensitive. Make connection to how our hearts are more like that, where they need to be exposed to Jesus for a lifetime -- a one-time sermon or reading a few minutes from the Bible isn't enough to create much of an image.
  • Also note what happens if the camera moves during a long exposure. (The image blurs.) Make connection to how we might get distracted and impatient while we wait for Jesus' image to form in our hearts. When we do, the image gets fuzzy. But we can correct that by refocusing our hearts back to Jesus.
  • Once again, point to the cameras and note the different sizes, shapes, features, technologies, age, etc. Connect this to how we are all different (ages, shapes, sizes, families, backgrounds, talents, abilities, interests, etc.)
  • Despite our differences, our purpose is the same -- to form an image of Jesus inside our hearts.
  • "If I took a picture of a flower with each of these cameras, each one will probably look a little different. But you should be able to clearly see that they are pictures of the same flower. Likewise, the way the image of Jesus that is forming in each of our hearts will probably look different from one another. But people who see us should be able to tell that is it still the image of Jesus, God's love, that is forming in our hearts."
  • "If we want to reproduce God's love, Jesus' image, in our hearts, there is just one way: Keep the eyes of our hearts open, let Jesus' light shine in, keep our eyes focused and pointed on Jesus, the light of the world."
  • Open the Eyes of My Heart would be an appropriate song to sing at the close.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Post #400

This post is #400 on this blog. That means that I've been averaging somewhere close to one post per day.

Anyway, I have a headache today and I feel like I might have a cold...

Some months ago I noted that our vacuum cleaner fill hose had a hole in it. At the time I wrapped some duct tape around it to see if it would hold...

It didn't.

Thought it appeared to help some, because most of the dirt and dust was in the disposable bag instead of outside it. But duct tape isn't going to work as a good long-term solution. I ordered a few parts and when it arrives I hope that I can figure out how to get it apart and then back together.

It's been quite wet this week. Everything is pretty soggy. It was dry this morning. The grass started looking a bit long, so I took the opportunity to run over the lawn/moss/swamp combination that our backyard is, with the lawnmower and even things out a bit.

I got a repair guesstimate quote on my camera -- in the neighborhood of $300. That's around what a used, identical model is going for, so I won't be spending more to fix it than it's worth. So I think I'll go that route and then in another six to twelve months acquire the 40D.

For the last few weeks I've been wondering why we still try to have a children's choir. Last night, two of the kids that have been coming weren't present. There are another two that regularly come, but their attention spans can be measured in seconds, they don't seem to have that much interest in what is going on, and they are distracing to everyone present. So why do we bother? Should we continue, or is it time to throw in the towel? I'm finding my motivation and desire continue to ebb away each week. Any thoughts or suggestions?

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Spyware, solos, and such

Yesterday, someone clicked on something "not good" and infected one of our PCs (the one everyone but me uses) with spyware and trojans. Even though the clean-up still took a long time, most of it was just the system scanning that could be done without me having to be there in person, watching it. I was fortunate that the problem was caught quickly, the PC had a fairly recent version of an anti-virus/malware program already installed, and it had the beta version of Microsoft's web filtering software running on it. So although infected, the infection had a difficult time multiplying too much.

I updated the Antivirus (this particular PC was using the free version of AntiVir) to the latest release and definitions, performed several rounds of scans until it came up clean. I manually checked a few areas in the Registry and such that are usually messed with by spyware and didn't find anything there. I updated Windows Defender to the latest version and performed a scan, which also came up clean. So I'm hopeful and fairly confident that this little problem is now cleared up.

The homeschool district (IDEA) sends down a couple of their educators each year for a few days to Petersburg. Last night we had a group potluck. It's a time to match names with faces and get reacquainted with many of the homeschooling families. We had a wonderful dinner. It was at the Holy Cross hall at the Lutheran church.

Immediately afterwards, I went down to the next building to audition a solo for the upcoming Messiah performance. So that went well and I will be singing Recitital #2 (Comfort Ye) and Aria #3 (Every Valley) on the 24th and 25th of November. The grapevine is on broadband in this town, because Elise already knew that I'd be singing the solos just minutes afterwards.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Alaska Air annual airfare sale

If you have any plans to travel to Petersburg by air over the next 12 months, now through November 20 is the time to purchase tickets. This is the Alaska Air's annual PFD (Permanent Fund Dividend) sale. Travel from Portland to Petersburg (one-way) is about $175 (all most fees) compared to the normal fare of around $260.

Added 9-Oct: After pricing and purchasing some tickets for next spring, I discovered that the fuel surcharges, security fees, etc. add another $30 or so each way to Portland.

First Snow on Petersburg Mountain

I awoke this morning, looking out across the Narrows to Petersburg Mountain and thought it looked different than what I saw yesterday. Since it was still dark, I wasn't sure if it was just the darkness or if there was actually a dusting of snow.

Another hour or so later, it became quite clear that it did look different and that it was almost certainly snow up on the tip of the mountain. I took my little point-and-shoot (because my other camera is now dead...) and took a photo of the mountain at first light. A couple hours later I took another photo with a bit more light.

Norwegian Dancing

Here are a couple of photos of Shelley in costume. This occurred last month. I wasn't there, but Elise says that the room was quite dark. I tried to massage the image as much as I could to get it to reasonably viewable.

IMG_8374 IMG_8378

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Camera shutter has died

It looks like the camear shutter (probably) has died. Until today, it was working more times than not, but now it seems to be failing most of the time. This is apparently a common point of failure on the Canon EOS-10D. I've put somewhere around 15,000 shutter clicks through it, and looking at other owners' comments, this seems to be about the point where the shutter mechanism fails.

I've requested a repair quote from a shop in Beaverton, Ore. to see if the camera is worth repairing. If not, I'll have to replace it. Although the current equivalent to the 10D is the 40D, the XTi is half the price and still much better than the 10D. If I do go the replacement route, it will likely be with the XTi.

I am not a happy camper today.

Bible Reading 2007, Week 41

This week we are reading in the book of Mark; and Psalms 23-25, and 84-89. These readings continue our glimpse into the life and times of Jesus Christ.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Two dinners, one preparation

Earlier this week, I invited all of the pastors and their families to dinner Friday (yesterday) evening. Three of them were able to make it.

I wasn't quite sure how much food would be needed, so I doubled the recipes for four dishes and spent much of the day putting them together: Spiced basmati rice, naan, coconut milk yellow curry, and a pasta sauce. In addition I put together a salad and baked a out-of-a-box frozen pie. Two of the guests had earlier asked if they could bring something and I suggested desserts -- so we had two more desserts.

I need not have worried whether or not we'd have enough. There was more than enough to adequately serve twice the number that was present.

This afternoon, we invited a few people over for Sabbath lunch, to help us finish the remaining half of last night's dinner. We still have a large casserole pan of the rice. Apparently I don't need to double that recipe to serve nearly twenty, if there are other dishes about the table.

The Catholic priest was one of the guests last night and he brought over a very nice tea brewing pot as a house warming gift. It's called the Swiss Gold Pot and really just a beautiful work of art. He's of Irish descent and is very much a tea aficionado, so he knows what good teas and tea equipment are. I tried out this new tea pot this afternoon, and it blows away the Bodum tea press that I'd been using.

October Sunshine

Even during the rainy, stormy times of the year (of which we have been receiving plenty the last few weeks), there are occasional sun breaks and sometimes even a whole day or two. This week, Wednesday and Thursday were like that. The mornings started kind of foggy and damp, but by late morning and afternoon, the clouds had broken up enough to let some sunshine through.

These two days also just happened to coincide with those rare times when I could take some time to just wander about with a camera (whose shutter is starting to fail more and more...). Here are a few autumn images.

The dragonfly buzzed up, landed on my jeans. Since it didn't immediately fly off, I took my camera and stuck the lens just inches away from it. It still wouldn't move. It's kind of hard to see through the viewfinder with the camera at that position, so I fired off about a dozen frames hoping one or two would get the entire dragonfly at a very close range. Which obviously I was able to get. I started walking, thinking it would have to fly off. But it just stayed on my leg. I felt a little creepy with this large dragonfly stuck on my leg. After some 50 yards or so of trying to shake it off, waving my hand in front of its eyes, it finally got the energy to fly off.

Sermon: Judgment for Life

(Click HERE for MP3 sermon audio.)

Today's sermon was based on John 7:53 - 8:11, the incident at the temple where some of the religious leaders bring to Jesus a woman caught in adultery. The scripture reading was in Matthew 7:1-2.

Today's sermon explores the literary, cultural, and historical background of this passage, and how all that contribute to highlight the dramatically different idea of judgment that Jesus taught. It is a message that we too, are often slow to learn and practice, and so bears repeating every now and then.

Children's Story: Sweet Grace

Wally and Marty were two boys who lived in the same, small town. Marty came from a poorer family. His clothes didn't look as nice, his shoes always seemed to be worn out, he always looked a little dirty, and he was much too thin.

Wally was the opposite. He came from a wealthy family. He always had the newest clothes, he was proud of the way he took care of himself, and he showed no signs of not having enough to eat.

Wally did not like Marty. Wally seemed to go out of his way to make things more difficult for Marty. Wally would sometimes gather several other boys to call Marty names: Dumb, filthy pig. Can't your mama dress and feed you? Sometimes they might circle around Marty and kick more mud on him. Or at other times, especially when it was cold outside, as Marty was walking down the street, some of them hid behind a bush or around a corner and then they would throw buckets of water on him, and they would run away shouting, "Just trying to help you get clean!"

One day, Wally came up with an idea to make Marty's life even more miserable. Later that day, as he saw Marty coming down the road, he went up to Marty. When Marty saw Wally coming towards him, he started to cross over to the other side of the road. But Wally called out, "Hey, Marty! I need to ask you something. Don't worry, no mud or water today."

Marty stopped, and still wary began to turn around to try to walk away. Wally called out again, "Don't worry. I won't do anything to you today. I swear on my mom's apple pie that nothing will happen."

Well, who can argue against a vow like that? So Marty stopped to find out what Wally wanted. Wally came up to Marty and said, "Marty, I'm sure you're tired of what some of us have been doing to you. So here's the deal. We'll stop and we'll even let you into our group. Just bring me one of the large candy bars with the chewy caramel inside. Old man Johnson has some in his store. I'll be waiting here tomorrow."

Marty looked at Wally in shock. Wally, seeing Marty hesitate, continued, "Honest, really. You can be a part of us. I just need something that shows me you really want to."

Marty thought about this offer. He really was tired of all the harassing, and he did want to be accepted. But how could he get the candy bar? He had no money… He said to Wally without looking at him, "Okay…"

Marty turned and slowly walked away. His feet led him to Johnson's Grocery, inside the doors, and then to the candy aisle. His eyes looked at the selection. In his life he's only tasted candy bars like these a handful of times, on special occasions. He could see the one Wally wanted him to get. It was large. If Marty had one of those, it would last him a year. He would just nibble a small bit at a time, carefully keeping the rest wrapped and savoring every nibble.

How could he afford to buy it? And then a thought entered his mind: Mr. Johnson didn't seem to be minding the store. Marty could just slip the candy bar into his pocket and walk out. His heart started to pound, his hands began to sweat and tremble. He had never done or even thought about stealing before. His mother had always told him that even though they were poor, they always lived honestly.

But Marty was so tired of being bullied and excluded. His thoughts turned back to all the times when he had dirt literally thrown at him. He thought of all the times he had been called names and other boys had laughed at him. He didn't want to be afraid of walking down the street. He wanted friends. And his resolve crumbled. He reached out and took the candy bar and quickly slipped it into his pocket.

Marty paused to look around and listen. He could see no sign of Mr. Johnson nor hear him in the store. Marty began to quietly walk towards the exit. As Marty began to exit the store, Wally and several other boys came running around the corner.

One of them grabbed Marty as Wally went in the store and shouted, "Mr. Johnson! Mr. Johnson! We caught someone stealing from your store!"

Mr. Johnson came running out to see what was going on. He saw Wally pointing to Marty. He saw Marty, face full of fear and his body trembling, being held by two other boys.

"Mr. Johnson," Wally began, "We saw this filthy dirtbag taking a candy bar out of your store without paying for it."

Mr. Johnson made no reply but looked at each of the boys in turn, starting with Wally and then looking at Marty. Marty turned to face the ground.

One of the other boys reached into Marty's pocket and pulled out the candy bar. "See? Here it is," he said.

Mr. Johnson could guess what had happened. He knew about Marty and his family. He knew how Marty was regularly bullied by Wally and his gang. He wondered how he should respond. Wally and the others were getting impatient. "Mr. Johnson, call the police," they insisted.

After a few minutes, Mr. Johnson turned to Wally and the boys. "Boys, this candy bar is paid for."

Wally and the boys looked at one another in shock and disbelief. "But," Wally began to protest.

Mr. Johnson cut Wally off, saying, "Wally. Am I going to have to have a talk with your father about what you've been doing? And the rest of your fathers, too?" Wally and the others quickly turned and ran out of the store and down the street.

Marty was left alone with Mr. Johnson. Marty turned to Mr. Johnson and in a trembling and sobbing voice said, "Mr. Johnson, I did steal this. How can you say it was paid for?"

Mr. Johnson gently took Marty by the shoulder, walked to the till and from his own pocket took out some money and placed it in the till. "See," he said, "It's paid for. Now go on home. Listen to your mother. Nothing is worth selling your honesty."

As Marty began to walk out the store, Mr. Johnson called out to Marty. "Oh, Marty. One more thing. Your mother doesn't like to ask for help. Ask her if she'll let you work here, at my store. I could use a couple hours of help each afternoon."

Marty turned around, surprise and disbelief painted across his face. His mouth was wide open. He could see Mr. Johnson smiling and nodding. "Go on," he added encouragingly. "I'm offering you a job so you can help your mother out. But don't let her know that, or she might not let you work."

Marty ran back to Mr. Johnson. "I'm sorry, Mr. Johnson, for stealing the candy bar. And thank you!" And then he raced back home.

I thought about adding lessons/morals to be drawn from this story at the end but decided against it. It is left as an exercise for the reader/hearer to draw their own lessons.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Preparing the soil

I've been doing some reflecting on the meetings that we held last weekend and whether or not they were "successful." If I use the attendance figure, it was absolutely the most dismal failure. We had one other church member for two of the nights; and on the first night another couple, one a member and the other not. Due to travel and business reasons, that's all we had.

One part of my thinking goes along and thinks that if I'd been more aggressive and done a better job at marketing, we might have had better attendance.

I still believe that God led me to host the meetings. And upon reflection, I don't see the meetings as failures. Am I deluded? Am I just trying to rationalize my delusions?

Here are some reasons I think it wasn't a failure.
  • I learned quite a bit from watching and listening to the presentations. Because I watched during the recording as well as during the meeting time, I got to see and listen to each one twice.
  • I brought the tapes home so that Elise and the kids could watch the ones that they had missed. Even Amy has admitted that these presentations were not boring. So these messages will help our whole family gain strength in our confidence that God really does exist and is a loving God.
  • Even though the ones who attended didn't get to see all of the messages, the tapes can be shown later.
  • Even though these meetings were billed as "seed sowing" events, maybe the soil here isn't ready to be planted. Maybe the flyers and ads were merely cultivating tools this time around. It may be that the soil still needs a lot more preparation before God will even allow seeds to be planted. I don't know.

I have to admit that I was disappointed after the first night at the lack of turnout. But as I worked through this in my conversations with God, I came to believe that there is no effort wasted when I am simply following where God is leading. I believe that my prayers that God would work through these meetings was answered. God is directing the answers, but I am not privileged to see it at this time.

Am I deluding myself, rationalizing, to try to make myself feel better? Perhaps. But if that is so, why am I so much at peace with the results? Why is my confidence in my God and how he chooses to work through us just as strong as ever?

Why Jesus didn't say, "Be my marketers"

There are some points to ponder from an article posted today on Christianity Today. It challenges the concepts that churches need to increase name-recognition, that more is better, that churches exist to primarily to provide benefits to those who attend.

Here is the opening paragraph:
When we "market," we try to make a larger audience aware of the value of exchanging a good or service. We assume both parties will benefit from the transaction. Marketing is a wonderful thing. I like to hear pitches about products I might use. I like the fact that my publishers pitch my books to a larger public. Thank God for marketing! But there's a reason Jesus said "You shall be my witnesses," and not "You shall be my marketers."

(Click HERE to read rest of article.)

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Warmest Spot in the House

With the outside temps not going above 50 (and often in the mid-40's all day) the last couple of weeks, our heater has been kicking in more frequently -- once every 3 to 4 hours for about 30-40 minutes each time.

I think our cats know the sound of warmth. This is at the base of our narrow stairs and the convergence of narrow pathways, so when the cats are sitting about the heater, it makes it a wee-bit difficult to navigate for us large, lumbering humans...