Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Travel Delays

I was supposed to fly out of town yesterday. Supposed to, but didn’t happen. Not because the weather was bad. In fact, the weather couldn’t be better. No. The plane never made it out of Juneau. Some mechanical issue, I was told. First estimate was 30 minutes. Then it turned into an hour. Then 3 hours. And then the flight was cancelled. At least I was able to wait it out at home.

That was the second and last flight of the day. Which meant I would fly out the next day, today. And the flight from Seattle to Tokyo would not happen today, but tomorrow.

The cancellation came out just after the deadline to cancel the Seattle hotel. I called them. Their reservation server was being upgraded. They said they’d call back. Which they did. And they were nice enough to change my reservation to today. Without any penalties, if I understood correctly. Which would be really nice. Because I don’t want to have to gather all the documentation for a travel insurance claim.

The flight status now says the morning flight from Seattle is on schedule to Ketchikan. I’ll believe it when it gets here.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Odds and Ends…

You’re right, there really haven’t been much in the way of updates and posts on this blog lately. The rhythm of life gets pretty similar once you’ve lived in the same place for more than 2 years.

We are getting some wonderful spring weather – dry and sunny. This week, in fact, might be closer to summer-like with temperatures in the 60’s. ‘

I will be missing that because I am heading out of town to see my parents over in Tokyo, which I hear is even warmer. I have an overnight in Seattle in both directions. On the way back I have a long layover in Portland as well.

I’ve been a little busy taking care of a few things before I leave. One of the big things was getting ads and promos set up around town for a personal finance workshop to be held next Tuesday and Wednesday by our Conference treasurer and her CPA husband. Another things was making sure everything was up-to-date as far as the ministerial association secretarial duties are concerned.

Our cat, Stripey, continues to look well (whew!) and has become a regular nuisance (again). We’re trying to keep him from overeating, but with two cats, that’s not easy to do. We have their food dishes in separate parts of the house, but Stripey tends to wander towards Vivvy’s dish and munch on it.

Last week I was given a small bag with four, fresh king salmon filets. Over the course of the next few days I pan-grilled them and savored every one. I’ve had good salmon over the years, but these were simply outstanding. This was a case where simple was best --  just some kosher salt sprinkled prior to grilling – to savor the fine and delicate salmon flavors. I’ve never been a big fan of sauces on fish, even though that seems to be the American way…

With spring here, Amy is back to gardening. Tonight she is busy putting together little seed starting planters from discarded chocolate milk containers, filling them with dirt, and seeding them.

I received a call from our Conference President this afternoon. The news is that the district pastor in Wrangell has decided to retire (well, he’s retired, but really retire now, I guess). The Conference is looking to place a full-time pastor in the Petersburg-Wrangell church district. Change is always interesting, at the least, and could be stressful if things (style, personality, etc.) don’t match well… We will see how all this pans out.

I’ve been packing off and on the past couple of days. I’ve got one large suitcase, a messenger bag, and a small camera bag. Those of you who know me might recall that I hate to travel. I don’t mind getting to where I’m going and being there, but I don’t like the process of travel. Someone really needs to spend more research money and time on Transporters…

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Sermon: Foundation, Part 2

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

This is the second half of my discussion of the Parable of the Builders found in Matthew 7:24-26 and Luke 6:46-49. My sermon draws primarily from the Lucan version.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Sermon: Foundation, Part 1

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

This week and next, I will be discussing the Parable of the Builders found in Matthew 7:24-26 and Luke 6:46-49. My sermon draws primarily from the Lucan version.

The sermon began with the singing of “The Wise Man Built His House…” song. The audio recording begins in the middle of the song.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Stripey is on the mend

Stripey made his way down from Shelley’s room today and decided to stay downstairs to enjoy a bit of the sun coming into the dining room. Our other cat, Vivvy, who had been sniffing and hissing ever since Stripey got sick sniffed but did not hiss. She had also been avoiding him, but for the first time in many weeks we observed the two of them sitting within two feet of one another.

Either Vivvy is getting used to Stripey’s scents, or Stripey’s distress-related pheromones are diminishing. Whatever it may be, Stripey is looking much more like his old self again. He’s also behaving more like his old self – trying to find plastic and plants to chew.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

I forgot the vanilla

I was just now reviewing the recipe for the cake and realized I had omitted the vanilla extract. I sure didn’t miss it though.

Spring days are here

Both yesterday and today were warm (well, 45-6F) and sunny days. Both days I went out on my bicycle twice: once to get some groceries downtown, then again later to pick up the mail using a longer route around the city loop.

The city has been diligently working to sweep up all the sand used on the streets during the winter, and most of the main roads are looking pretty good. Today I took my road bike out for the first time since last summer. It was great to shed probably 15-20 lbs. of bike and fly around the loop.

My first (successful) cake

Most of my cooking does not involve baking, particularly when it comes to desserts. I’ve baked some cookies with pretty good success. But I’ve tried cakes once or twice with pretty mediocre to disastrous results. I’ve always followed the directions given on the mix, and for some reason things didn’t seem to turn out very well. I’m also not a big fan of cakes. I find the frostings and decorations rather distasteful – too sticky and too sweet, and just maddeningly sickening for the most part.

The April 2009 issue of Bon Appetit had an article on cakes that actually made cakes look and sound good. All of them are from-scratch recipes. Today just happened to be the birthday for one of our church members, and Elise just happened to work last night and tonight, rendering her somewhat unavailable for baking cakes (she usually bakes the cakes).

Flipping through the different cakes, I found one, Lemon Cornmeal Cake with Lemon Glaze and Crushed-Blueberry Sauce, that appealed in multiple ways: fairly simple (no layers, no elaborate frosting), a simple sugar glaze, and flavored with lemon (a favorite of our birthday girl) and blueberries.

I followed the recipe meticulously, and in the end everything turned out flawlessly. It wasn’t overly sweet, it had a nice blend of fruitiness, and the presentation was quite attractive.

I suppose I should practice some more cake making with some of the other recipes in the same article. There’s one that uses candied ginger… That sounds pretty good.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Sermon: Buried and Resurrected

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

This sermon discusses the burial and resurrection account found in Mark 15:40-16:8 and the change in the role of women that occurs between the two episodes.

Hope Isn’t Hope

Nearly every week, our Sabbath School discussion stumbles over semantics and meanings of words. This week, I’m sure, will not be an exception.

The topic for this week is “hope.” What is hope? Is it optimism or positive thinking?

In today’s use of the term “hope,” we often use it in phrases as…

  • I hope it won’t rain tomorrow.
  • I hope I pass the exam.
  • I hope I don’t catch the flu.
  • I hope I win the lottery.

… and so on…

As can be seen, in today’s usage, “hope” is best described as an expectation that something positive that will happen, but of which the chance of coming to pass is at best uncertain.

What is the proper understanding of “hope” as used in the Bible? provides as its last definition entry for the word hope, “Archaic. Trust; confidence.” Here we find a clue to the proper understanding of “hope” as found in the Bible. In biblical usage, hope is not optimism or positive thinking, or of looking for a positive outcome in an uncertain environment. Rather, it is absolute confidence that the thing hoped for will come to pass, even though there are no previous occurrences and present circumstances may be against it.

When we approach the Bible with today’s definitions (not just limited to the word “hope” but just about all theologically significant terms), it is no wonder we get all confused and end up misunderstanding what the Bible is trying to communicate to us.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Good Friday Service

Here are notes I used for my part of the service.

John 19:25-27 –

25 but standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!" 27 Then he said to the disciple, "Behold, your mother!" And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.


  • Some translations omit; others use now, and
  • But seems to be the most appropriate term
  • But what?

24b So the soldiers did these things…

  • Stripped Jesus, mocked him, beat him, crucified him
  • Divided his possessions among them
  • Cast lots for his tunic
  • Treated him as just another unfortunate criminal

“But” in comparison to the soldiers, there were those who stood by Jesus.

28 After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished…

Jesus accomplished something significant in giving John to his mother, and his mother to John.

“Behold your son… Behold your mother…”

  • Similar words used in betrothal
  • Betrothal: A change in relationship
  • Formation of a new community based on Christ and the cross – beginning of the church
  • John’s crucifixion account is very brief – soldiers and women + John
  • World’s principles (represented by soldiers) divide; Christ’s love unites – this is the main point John is making in his crucifixion account

Matthew 12:46-50 –

46 While he was still speaking to the people, behold, his mother and his brothers stood outside, asking to speak to him. 48 But he replied to the man who told him, "Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?" 49 And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, "Here are my mother and my brothers! 50 For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother."

  • Promise of new type of family based on spiritual ties starting to be fulfilled
  • A prediction that new family will face pressures from outside
  • And a demonstration of how new family is to handle such pressures – care for one another

The best witness that we can bear for Christ is to demonstrate Christ’s love in action as we care for one another. As we do so, we demonstrate a clear contrast between the relationships of the world that are found apart from God, and the relationships that are based upon God’s love.

(All texts from the English Standard Version.)

Stripey is much better

(knock on wood…)

It looks like I haven’t posted an update here on Stripey.

After a day of Heparin treatments, Stripey was able to stand on all fours without collapsing. The morning after that, he was almost back to his former self. And now he shows very little sign that he had any problems.

We caught the problem early enough, and we were fortunate to have the vet in town during both of Stripey’s medical emergencies.

Faith or Experience?

Since this week’s Sabbath School lesson is on the topic of faith, I thought this was apropos and it made me chuckle.

Easter Weekend

Every year, this is one of the busier weekends. Last night we attended a Seder at the Presbyterian Church. I’d never been to one before and it was an interesting and uplifting experience. Last week during our Ministerial Association meeting, the Lutheran pastor talked about their Easter traditions and why they do what they do. He described how the main events begin Thursday night as those who attend become participants, going back in time as it were, to re-experience Christ’s Passion in order to more fully understand and engage God’s love demonstrated through Jesus Christ. The Catholic priest talked about how, in the past, they would spend many hours leading up to Sunday sunrise reading through passages of scripture that discuss God’s plan of redemption and deliverance, culminating with a sunrise resurrection service. After listening to some of these traditions described and the reasons behind them, I came away with a sense that those of us in the non-liturgical, non-traditional churches could be missing something by avoiding them, whether due to ignorance or fear.

We will be attending the Good Friday service tonight at the Lutheran church, and I will be taking part by speaking, this year, on Christ’s 3rd word on the cross, "Woman, behold your son... Behold your mother" (John 19:25-27).

Tomorrow I will be speaking on the burial and resurrection passage found in Mark’s gospel.

And on Sunday, we’ve been invited again to the Presbyterian Church for their breakfast, egg hunt, and worship service. There is a sunrise service at the beach at 7 a.m. preceding all this, but whether or not I’m awake for that, I don’t know. At the Ministerial Association meeting, the others tried to nominate me to organize it since I’m the only one who doesn’t have services on Sunday… Hmm… :)

And finally, if you are one who struggles (or even if not) with the idea of God sacrificing his Son on the cross, you might want to head over and read an article at

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Stripey’s medical woes continue…

Whether due to complications from his liver disease and medications or from something else, Stripey has developed thrombosis causing circulation to his lower body to be blocked. He is unable to use his hind legs normally.

We first thought perhaps it was a toxin (neurotoxin perhaps) due to ingesting too much plastic from grocery bags, because he threw up a whole bunch of it right after he began to act funny.

The vet was out for a couple of hours this afternoon, and so we were trying to remain calm (without much success) while we waited. I called the vet in Juneau but his only advice was to go see a vet ASAP.

On our way to our Tuesday evening supper, I decided to swing by the vet office, just in case. The door was locked, but just as we were about to pull away, I saw the vet come out and quickly talked with him. The kids and I were dropped off at the church and then Elise went to get Stripey and take him to the vet.

Apparently Stripey has a heart murmur and that could have helped contribute to the clot that traveled down. He received a dose of Heparin, and Elise came home with two more injections to give him over the next day in the hopes that it will somehow loosen things up and restore circulation.

During his liver episode, Stripey was very calm and quiet. But in this new case, he is quite vocal and unhappy. It must be awful having lost circulation, unable to get about normally, probably not having all his sensations in his legs, not knowing what is going on, and unable to comprehend that all the pokings, proddings, shots, etc. are an effort to try to help him.

I sure don’t need more sermon illustrations from suffering and pain, and a possible tragic incident, but Stripey’s cases are pregnant with them.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Memorial service

Yesterday afternoon we held a memorial service for one of our church members, Steve Hittle, who passed away a couple of weeks ago.

Here is the audio of the service (about 1 hr. in length).

  • Welcome and Prayer
  • Scripture and Hymn
  • Eulogy and Remembrances
  • Homily -- “By the Seashore”
  • Vocal Solo
  • Closing Prayer

Sermon: What Shall I Do?

(Click HERE for MP3 sermon audio.)

Luke 20:9-19. This is the parable of the landowner and tenants, which Jesus told after he was questioned about his authority to challenge the religious establishment. Is the story about the tenants and their judgment, or is it about the landowner who must respond to the rebellious tenants? What was Jesus trying to communicate to his audience about himself and his Father?

Friday, April 03, 2009

Stripey’s feeding tube came out

Not intentionally, however. He was being fed when suddenly he bolted and Elise was still holding on to the tube. The tube tore the sutures and came out partway. After a call to the vet, we unwrapped the bandage around Stripey’s neck and pulled out the tube.

Elise is going to try to find some medical supplies that can help us continue to give Stripey his medication and lessen the chances of him spitting it out.

Stripey is doing quite a bit better. The last blood test result showed improvements in liver function.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Spring day

Snow fell last night, but today looked and felt more like a spring day. Last night after our supper at the church, I went to get my jacket, but could not find it. I did, however, find that one of our members had left his coat behind. Putting one and one together, I came to the conclusion that he probably didn’t realize he had grabbed the wrong jacket. (He can be excused – he’s 90 years old.) I called when I returned home and said I would go pick it up in the morning, which I did.

Since I was going to go out along the south side of the island, something I rarely do, and the day being promising for photos, I took my camera along. On the way out, the skies were a bit too overcast, but on the way back it had cleared up to where there were both sufficient blue sky as well as clouds.

I haven’t taken much photos this year because after two winters, everything looks about the same during the third winter. Here’s to make up for some of that. Click on the image to enter the gallery.