Monday, December 29, 2008

Sermon: Choosing Healing

(Click HERE for MP3 sermon audio.)

The sixth in a series on the Lord’s Prayer, this sermon discusses Matthew 6:12, “And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.”

Thursday, December 25, 2008


Another Christmas has come and is just about gone.

Today was a fairly quiet affair with just family for much of it.  The girls emptied their Christmas stockings in the morning. Then we had a kind of a French toast casserole for breakfast. This was followed by the unwrapping of gifts.

The girls got a number of little trinkets, clothing items, books, and games. A couple of the games were ones I purchased at a bookstore when we were in Juneau. The clerk said they were good, and we were not disappointed. Both girls got new capes from their grandmother in Oregon. Their old ones had long since become too small and worn out.

“I” got Elise a Norwegian sweater. I say “I” because I don’t do clothes shopping. Yesterday, when Elise was out, she found the sweater, half off, and called me saying it would be a gift from me if I wrapped it. Okay, sounds good to me! I also got a little space heater so that she could keep warm in the guest bedroom, which also serves as a sewing room and a nap room.

The neat item that I got was a hydroponics garden kit – AeroGarden – with an add-on kit of Japanese herbs. It’s a good thing I didn’t pick one up for myself or for Amy. I had looked at it and thought about it.

We had a couple from church over for dinner this evening. The menu was…

  • Garlic and herb roasted prime rib
  • Potato and mushroom gratin
  • Braised greens (red chard & mustard greens)
  • Dinner rolls
  • Spiced cranberry sauce
  • Green salad
  • Apple-cranberry mocktail
  • Deep-dark chocolate cookies
  • Apple pie (courtesy of Mrs. Smith)
  • Vanilla ice cream

Elise and I baked the cookies two nights ago. I started preparing the prime rib last night. The gratin was done this morning. The rest was put together this afternoon, while the prime rib was roasting in the oven. After that came out and the oven freed, the dinner rolls went in, the pie went in, and the gratin went in for reheating.

Everything came together right on schedule. We had dinner, dessert, and Elise didn’t have to rush too badly to get to work.

CLICK HERE for photos from my birthday, a backyard snow scene, and unwrapping of gifts today.

[Edit: Added 11:20 pm]

I forgot to mention that I used my new filet knife to carve the prime rib. Even though the blade isn’t long enough to be considered a carving knife, it worked very well for getting the meat off the bones. It’s slenderness and sharpness were fantastic.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Recital Video

Here is the video of Shelley’s recital pieces from last night. It is Windows Media Video and 3.5MB in size. For streaming you will need at least 300Kbps bandwidth.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Weekend Events

This weekend I came another year closer to 40… I received a filet knife (brand name: Masahiro – not the same characters though), knife skills book, and a remote control helicopter. We didn’t have the right batteries, so it wasn’t until Sunday (yesterday) that I finally got it flying.

On Sabbath we had our Christmas program. The planning for it was a bit haphazard and last-minute, but it all came together. We had brunch beforehand followed by the program. Here is a link (Windows Media Video) to the whole program. It’s 44MB in size, so be warned. You’ll also need at least 300Kbps to stream and view.

The program consisted of singing, music, stories, and a couple of acts by Mum’s the Word, a drama class/group in which Shelley participates.

Yesterday evening, the same drama group performed one of the acts, a Tableau, at the Bible Church’s Christmas program.

This evening, Shelley has a piano recital.

The weather continues to be cold and dry here. While the Northwest region farther south appears to be snowed in, we’re just cold. Temps have been in the single digits to the low teens for several days. We discovered that the church water had frozen on Sabbath morning. It took a little bit of time and effort to get that thawed out. Our water pipe also froze (where it always does once temps get and stay this low) on two mornings. It looks like we’ll get a little warmer – into the 20’s – after today. Break out the shorts!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Cold, cold, cold

We may not be Fairbanks or Nome, but it’s still cold. The low so far this week, which it just hit, is 8 degrees.

Last night, I finally moved one of the electric heaters to the basement to keep it from completely freezing. That meant our oil heater spent much of its time on during the night.

Today I went out and purchased another oil-filled radiant electric heater to set next to our oil  heater. Even though the electric can’t keep up, it slows down the cooling off so that the oil heater doesn’t come on nearly as often.

I had a dental checkup and cleaning today – fun, fun, fun… Umm… Maybe. The main reason was that a few weeks ago I discovered a wisdom tooth had started to fall apart. There’s no pain or anything, but even so, leaving it alone is probably not a good idea. So late next month I’m scheduled to go in for extractions of both of the wisdom teeth in the upper jaw. Not fun at all… On the plus side, the dentist, new to town, is young and was very professional.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Snow and Sunset

We got a little bit of snow today, less than an inch. It was enough to cover the landscape nicely. The clouds nearly all disappeared by evening and we had a nice sunset.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Continued Cold, now skateable

The spell checker tells me “skateable” is not a word. Whatever…

The cold continues and it’s been cold enough, long enough for the large muskeg pond up at the ballfield to freeze over. The additional condition is that there be no snow when the pond freezes over. Like last year about this time, conditions came together so that the pond was skateable.

I went up there on my bicycle to examine the conditions. When I got there I saw someone skating on the ice. I figured it must be safe, so I called home and told Shelley about it. When I returned from the post office, Shelley and Elise left for the pond.

Elise took the camera and snapped a number of photos. I was quite surprised and impressed that so many of the photos came out since the light was fading and it was getting dark. I looked at the EXIF data and saw that the shutter speed started out at 1/100 but by the end it was down to 1/15.

Anyway, click on the image below to enter the gallery. Indoor rinks are nice and smooth, but the scenery of from our pond beats any indoor rink!

Click to open in new window/tab

Sunday, December 14, 2008

High of 21 Degrees Today

We’ve got a nice bit of arctic air coming down on us. It’s clear and sunny during the day, but gets rather cold at night.

The cold air dropped in on us around Friday. That evening we went over to the Lutheran pastor’s home for a potluck with a few of the other pastors and families. A Lutheran couple from Tanzania is visiting for the month, so that was one of the reasons for the potluck. The other was that the current Lutheran pastor, an interim that has been here for 2 years, will be leaving us at the end of the year. We had a nice time with good food and interesting stories of life in Tanzania.

Last evening we went to see the local dance studio perform their version of Peter Pan and Wendy. Like the Nutcracker from last year, this was less about perfection and much more about entertainment. The performance wasn’t bad in any way. It’s just that when quite a number of the performers are toddlers and preschoolers, well, it’s a lot more entertaining than a professional production. In many ways, I think I’d rather watch our version than one that is “perfect.”

Anyway the cold really hit last night. Our electric space heaters were finally overcome and the oil furnaces had to be used to bring up the indoor temperature. I have to purchase another one or two: one to place down in the basement, and another to carry around to some of the far-flung rooms.

The cold is forecast to stay around for the week at least, and perhaps another one after this. There isn’t much of snow forecast, so at least I probably won’t have to shovel… :)

Sermon: Deliver Us From Fear

(Click HERE for MP3 sermon audio. Click HERE for PowerPoint slides. Click HERE for PowerPoint Viewer.)

The fifth in a series on the Lord’s Prayer, this sermon covers Matthew 6:11, “Give us this day our daily bread.”

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Atonement: Christ in Heaven

These are comments on Sabbath School Study Lesson 11, Benefits of Christ’s Atoning Sacrifice.

The Study Guide’s thrust is about the work Christ is described as doing in heaven. The subtitles for each of the day’s lesson focus on the concept of “mediation.” Closely related to the concept of mediation is the idea of intercession.

What does it mean for Christ to be the Mediator and Intercessor, mediating and interceding for us? Is Christ in some way “pleading” our case, so to speak, in a judicial sense, before the court of the Father? Does Christ’s intercession in some way change the scales of judicial inquiry?

Or can the concepts of mediation and intercession be seen in some other way?

The IVP Bible Background Commentary NT (QuickVerse edition) has an interesting note regarding 1 Timothy 2:5. The verse reads,

5For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man£ Christ Jesus… (ESV)

The commentary for this verse reads,

Both Christ’s mission and Paul’s mission testified to God’s purpose, his wish to save all. In Judaism, wisdom, the law or, in a lesser sense, Moses was thought to have mediated divine revelation, but it was ultimately effective only for Israel, not for the Gentiles. Most Gentiles believed in many mediators of revelation, just as they believed in many gods.

So according to this interpretation, the concept of mediation can be seen as bringing revelation and clarity. In other words, when Christ is said to mediate for us, it can be understood as Christ continuing to bring more clarity about the true character of the Father to us through both the work that was done during his time on earth, and now through the Holy Spirit.

On the concept of intercession, Vincent’s Word Studies, Vol. 4: Epistles (QuickVerse edition) gives insight in its commentary on Hebrews 7:25. The verse reads,

25Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. (ESV)

The commentary for this verse includes,

… The idea is not intercession, but intervention. It includes every form of Christ’s identifying himself with human interests…

Thayer’s Greek Definitions (QuickVerse edition) gives definitions for the Greek translated as intercession as,

    1. to light upon a person or a thing, fall in with, hit upon, a person or a thing
    2. to go to or meet a person, especially for the purpose of conversation, consultation, or supplication
    3. to pray, entreat
    4. make intercession for any one

There is little, if any, judicial sense to the word. Rather, is is full of relational connotations, of bringing two parties together. Taking both the concept of Christ identifying with the human race, and of the relational idea of intercession, could it be that the common image of Christ somehow pleading with the Father to forgive and to let live those who have accepted him [Christ], be wrong?

What if the intercession for us was just that – that Christ is not interceding with the Father on behalf of us, but rather that Christ is interceding and mediating the Father’s image and nature to and for us? How else could we reconcile what Jesus said in John 16:25-27 with mediation and intercession?

25“I have said these things to you in figures of speech. The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures of speech but will tell you plainly about the Father. 26In that day you will ask in my name, and I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf; 27for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. (ESV, italics and emphasis supplied)

My conclusion is that Christ’s mediation and intercession are simply extensions of what he did while upon the earth; that is, to reveal the truth about God. It could be said, in a metaphorical manner, that Christ directs the Holy Spirit’s work from his heavenly headquarters. It is through the Holy Spirit that Christ now works to continue his work of revealing God to the world. When understood in this sense, the concepts of mediation and intercession are not at odds with a God who “first loved us” (1 John 4:19) and a God who sent Jesus, not to condemn, but to save (John 3:17).

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Video: Drama presentation

Yesterday afternoon, as part of the Holiday Literary sponsored by the Public Library, the drama class in which Shelley participates presented two acts.

The first was a Reader’s Theatre and the second a mime act.

Click HERE for video.

The video is encoded for 128Kbps connections, Windows Media, and is about 6.5 MB in size.

Sermon: Happily Ever After

(Click HERE for MP3 sermon audio. Click HERE for PowerPoint slides. Click HERE for PowerPoint Viewer.)

The fifth in a series on the Lord’s Prayer, this sermon covers Matthew 6:10.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Cold, Slush, and Tempura

The title sums up the day :)

For much of the week the temperatures have been 30F or lower. Overnight, the temps rose, but clouds came in and things turned to snow. By the morning though, it was even warmer and the snow quickly began turning to slush as the snow turned to rain. The city plows were out doing their work for the first time this season.

Elise had an easy bicycle ride to work last night on the icy streets with the newly installed studded tires. The ride back wasn’t nearly as fun because bicycles (or really, any wheeled vehicle) and slippery slush don’t get along very well.

While returning from Shelley’s piano lesson, she informed me that she was having a friend over for dinner and could I please prepare something Japanese? And so I quickly put together a menu consisting of tempura, inari sushi, and teriyaki shish-ka-bob chicken.

Immediately afterwards I went to the monthly Ministerial Association meeting. We had some soup and bread, and a dessert of apple pie and ice cream. Following that I went to the grocery stores.

While at the store I thought about purchasing bottled teriyaki sauce. I looked at the prices. I looked at the ingredients. I decided it was cheaper to just combine the ingredients and approximate the sauce. I added some orange juice to give it a different flavor.

After a couple of hours of preparation and cooking, the dinner was done. It all turned out quite well (in my opinion). The chicken turned out quite well, and the tempura was good. The inari sushi, well, the wrappers came from a can.

The day was rather busy – unexpectedly so. There still remains a sermon to prepare for this Sabbath.

Atonement: The Cross

I don’t really have any comments of my own to add to this week’s Sabbath School Study, Lesson 10: Atonement at the Cross. I am also feeling rather tired and perhaps a little ill tonight, so instead of trying to formulate my own thoughts to put here, I invite you to take a listen to the lesson discussion led by Jonathan Gallagher, and read his thoughts on the lesson.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Sunny and Frosty

It looks like the first real blast of winter is upon us. The skies cleared up yesterday, meaning things got really cold overnight. We were down in the 20’s and this will continue for a few more days, after which the clouds and rain/snow is forecast with slightly warmer temperatures.

Here’s a snapshot from our bedroom window just now.