Sunday, November 29, 2009

Sermon: RSVP

(Click HERE for MP3 sermon audio.)

Text: Luke 14:15-24

This sermon discusses the parable of the Great Banquet. It is a parable about priorities, about relationships, about the kingdom that has already begun, and how one gets to dine with the Master at the Great Banquet. It is also a parable that includes the work that Christ’s servants are commissioned to do in relation to the “already here, but not yet” aspects of God’s kingdom.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Sermon: “What Is the Kingdom of God Like?”

(Click HERE for MP3 sermon audio.)

Texts: Luke 13:10-21; Luke 14:1-14

Last Sabbath’s sermon discussed the narrow door of Luke 13:22-30 and Jesus’ announcement about who would and who wouldn’t be found in the coming Kingdom of God.

Today’s sermon looks at the chiastic material preceding and following last Sabbath’s passage to paint in a bit more of the nature of the kingdom Jesus announced. This sermon looks at the various motifs found in the chiastic material: Sabbath, healing, deliverance, humility, and invitations to the eschatological banquet. The integration of these motifs is key in interpreting and understanding the nature of the Kingdom of God, and how radically different Jesus’ depiction of it is when compared to the accepted understandings of the kingdom at that time. The gospel commission is to continue proclamation and demonstration of the true nature of God’s kingdom.

Monday, November 16, 2009

What a difference a rice cooker makes!

Sometime this morning our new rice cooker showed up. I set out immediately to cook a pot of rice. About an hour later it was done. I opened it up, began to stir, and immediately noticed a huge difference in the result between it and our old rice cooker: in the new the rice was not nearly as “wet” and it was much more of an al dente texture.

I put some into a bowl and it seemed more fragrant than with the previous cooker. When I placed some into my mouth it seemed sweeter and definitely had a better texture to it.

The rice itself is the same – it’s from a 50 lb. bag sold at Costco. But how it’s cooked makes a noticeable difference in the end result. The new rice cooker makes a much better rice.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

‘Tis the season to shovel snow

Current short-term weather forecast: “Areas of heavy snow near Petersburg will begin tapering off by noon with additional snow accumulation up to 2 inches.”

That was indeed the case. It snowed an inch or two overnight and I went out to shovel the driveway. As soon as I came back in the heavy snow started to fall and a couple of hours later I was back out shoveling the driveway.

The forecast for the next couple of days continue to include snow with the most snowfall around Petersburg. It looks like I will be getting my share of upper body exercise.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Sermon: Who Shrunk the Door?

(Click HERE for MP3 sermon audio.)

Text: Luke 13:22-30 ; Isaiah 25:6-9

This week takes a look at another passage (Luke) where Jesus speaks of entering through a narrow portal – this time, a door. The door is spoken of in connection with the eschatological banquet in the kingdom of God. When the entire passage is examined, however, there seems to be quite a few people who enter into the kingdom. So what did Jesus mean when he said the door was narrow? Who shrunk the door? The passage in Isaiah and the reinterpretations of it found in the intertestamental period provide clues that point toward a possible answer.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Winter Mountain

Petersburg Mountain this morning.

R0011478 R0011479

First significant snow

I awoke past midnight due to discomfort from whatever illness I am suffering. I looked out the window and discovered that snow had been falling and accumulating since I had gone to bed.

These are very grainy and were converted to monochrome as I shot them handheld at ISO 1600 and underexposed by some 4 or 5 stops.

_MG_5044 _MG_5045

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Winter is here

Today the precipitation from the sky is a wintry mix of rain and a bit of snow. Temperature is hovering just a couple of degrees above freezing.

I continue to suffer from what appears to be a cold. Salt water gargle seems to be the only thing that alleviates the throat pain that I have.

Shelley also had something yesterday, but was well enough today to return to school.

Since yesterday was Veterans Day the DMV (among other offices) was closed. I went to the DMV and the insurance company this morning to register our second car and insure it.

Evening update: There was a period of a few minutes when it was just snow and the ground got a dusting of it.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

We have a new, very old car

Last night one of our friends from church gave us their 20-year old Toyota station wagon. They have a whole bunch of electric vehicles on their property they are selling, and part of the reason for parting with their gasoline powered vehicle was to make a little more room available.

I have to go to the DMV to register the transfer, pay for a new registration, and then to the insurance company to add the vehicle to our insurance.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A bit of a cold

I seem to have caught a bit of a cold… I started feeling it a bit on Saturday morning, but it has only been a bit of sneezing and runny nose, primarily in the morning. I felt okay yesterday but last night started to feel a bit of irritation in my throat and some soreness around my shoulders. It bothered me enough that I couldn’t remain asleep this morning and got out of bed about 4 a.m.

I took a bit of nap just now and am feeling a little better. I’ve been sipping some fresh ginger infusion mixed with a bit of frozen orange juice concentrate.

While napping I got a message from letting me know that the rice cooker had shipped – about 4 days ahead of schedule. Estimated delivery is early next week.

I went to meet with some of the other pastors this morning and learned that another of the restaurants will be shutting down for good after Thanksgiving. If I had a spare $200,000 lying about I might just purchase it (it is for sale) and run it as a hobby… but I don’t have that kind of cash just sitting about. It would be foolish to take out a loan on it, but an outright purchase with no expectation of making money might be fun…

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Ordered a new rice cooker

I ordered us a new rice cooker today. The model is Zojirushi NP-HBC10. I thought about the next model up with pressurized cooking, but couldn’t get myself to justify spending close to another $200 for just that feature.

“Aren’t all rice cookers the same?” some might ask. The answer is an emphatic, “No!” When I was in Japan the time previous to the most recent one, we got Dad a new rice cooker. I got to use it quite a bit this last time there and was utterly astounded by how well it cooked the rice and kept it warm – even rice cooked and kept for 48 hours was still very good.

Our old rice cooker is probably about a decade old. Rice left in there even overnight starts to get dry and hard. There is no timer feature so I have to remember to make sure I get the thing turned on to cook in time. Not only that but the inner bowl is well past its prime. It was more than time for a replacement.

Since it’s coming via Super Saver shipping, it will probably be near the end of the month before we see it.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Sermon: A Matter of Perspective

(Click HERE for MP3 sermon audio.)

Texts: Matthew 7:12-14; Matthew 11:28-30; Jeremiah 6:16

This sermon discusses the apparent paradox between the narrow gate/hard way of life that is written in Matthew 7:13-14 vs. the rest and easy yoke (way)of Jesus that is written in Matthew 11:28-30. Perhaps it is a matter of perspective; i.e., on which side of Christ one stands, that determines how a person views the way of Christ/life.

(Oh, the new audio recorder provides a much better audio quality! Before, whenever I used the headset mic, the echo made the recording nearly impossible to understand. Today, the speech is definitely comprehensible.)

Friday, November 06, 2009

Return trip

Comments later

(Tuesday, November 3.) From Dad’s home to the Narita Airport we took two trains. A Chuo Rapid from Ogikubo to Tokyo, and then the Narita Express (Limited Express) from Tokyo to Narita Airport Terminal. We had sent our three large pieces of luggage by courier the day before. At Tokyo we had about an hour to spend so we purchased different kinds of bread at a bakery and ate them at the station. We slowly proceeded down to the departing platform and at 12:03 p.m. we left for Narita.

The train trip was uneventful. We passed through city and farms at a rapid pace. About 50 minutes later we arrived at the airport platform. That’s when the less-than-desirable adventure began.

I thought two hours would be sufficient to unload from the train and get boarded on the plane. It was sufficient, but barely. It took some 10-15 minutes to get from the train platform, passing through a brief security inspection, to the fourth floor departure area. Then we had to go all the way across the North Wing to retrieve our luggage sent ahead. And then we had to go back across the North Wing to enter the long lines to check in and obtain boarding passes.

I had hoped to get some lunch at the airport prior to departure. After we checked in I had to return the rental mobile phone. I didn’t quite know where the return location was and that took a little more time. Finally we went to the central area where shops and restaurants are located. There wasn’t a restaurant that seemed right and the first one we entered, no one seemed to come up to seat us. So we went out and located another, sat down, and ordered; and then realized that we really didn’t have enough time for this.

Cancelling the order and apologizing we rushed out and walked briskly to the security clearance. Fortunately there was no wait there and got through quickly. We proceeded down to passport control and also made it through there without much waiting. We rushed over to our gate and saw that passengers were already boarding. We took a quick look around at the nearby gift shop but did not locate anything suitable to take on board as a snack.

We got in line, boarded and the long flight to Seattle finally commenced. There was a very brisk tailwind so the 8-1/2 hour flight turned out coming in at 7-1/2 hours.

We arrived in Seattle but could not immediately unload because the Border Patrol and Customs area were not staffed yet due to the early hour (6 a.m.) But it wasn’t too long (about 20 minutes) before they woke up and allowed us to deplane.

I’m not sure if it is the new policy for BCP or just in Seattle, but permanent residents have to join the same line as visitors. The way the lanes work in Seattle seemed very inefficient. The agents kept shuffling people around different lanes and as a result we waited a very long time. It’s a good thing we were early and we had plenty of transfer time.

We did finally make it out of the control area only to be greeted with another long line to re-enter the secured area… From there we took three short inter-terminal trains to get from the international arrival area to the North Satellite terminal. There we got some bagels and pastries to eat while we waited another hour or so prior to boarding our second to last leg from Seattle to Juneau.

The remaining flights were uneventful and we arrived safely in Petersburg.

Ah… Jetlag

For a couple of days I thought maybe this time I won’t experience jetlag so badly… But… apparently the past two nights I was able to sleep simply because the fatigue from travel overwhelmed any sort of jetlag. Tonight, however, I am wide awake. I was sleepy around 8 p.m. so I went to bed, but by 11 p.m. I was awake. It is not 1 a.m. with no signs of sleepiness in the vicinity… At least I was able to use the time to put down notes towards a coherent sermon for tomorrow. I’d been working half a dozen sermon ideas for the last couple of days with nothing “gelling” together, but there is one now that is coming together.

The weather here is typical Petersburg: cloudy and rainy. But last evening it was also quite windy. There is a bit of snow now on the peaks of the hills around the area.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Tokyo Disneyland

Comments will be added as time permits.

Our day (Thursday, October 29) started fairly early as the trip to Disneyland takes about an hour and a half. We first walked to Ogikubo station, rode on the Chuo line rapid to Tokyo then transferred to the Keiyo line to Maihama station. Then it’s about a 10 minute walk to the ticket booths. When we entered the park, it was about 10 a.m.

We saw many guests dressed in various Disney character costumes. “Was this a normal, Tokyo Disneyland thing?” we wondered. It turns out that in the days around Halloween, the park allows guests to come in full Disney costume. Thus we saw lots of Alice costumes, quite a few Minnies, hosts of other Disney princesses, and various other characters.

We first headed over to the newest attraction, Monsters, Inc.’s Ride-and-Go-Seek adventure ride. The FastPass was already at 18:45 or thereabouts. We skipped that one and went to Star Tours next door which had a five minute wait. After that we went over to Space Mountain and got its FastPass, then returned to Monsters, Inc. and waited about 75 minutes. It is the newest attraction and therefore attracting all the crowds, but I’m not sure it was worth all that waiting under normal circumstances. It was a ride through a number of different scenes and each person gets to shine a flashlight on the scene to look for monsters and Boo that may be hiding. However, the ride was halted for maintenance not long after we went through, so I guess waiting for it was okay in that respect.

We raced all the way across the park to Splash Mountain and got its FastPass, then raced back to Space Mountain. After that we wandered half the park for lunch that wasn’t exorbitantly expensive and was acceptable to all of us – not at all an easy task. We ended up about where we started looking for lunch: at the pizza counter service restaurant next to Space Mountain. We all had a slice of chicken vegetable (always includes corn) pizza set, which included a small drink and about half a dozen mini cream puffs drizzled with a little chocolate (even fast food is somewhat artistically presented in Japan). For our drinks Shelley and I selected apple tea soda. It was quite good.

Following lunch we went on what I think was my favorite attraction: Buzz Lightyear’s AstroBlaster. The guests get into a small vehicle which then goes through different scenes. Each person gets an AstroBlaster with which they try to hit targets. It was a lot like a shooting gallery except that you are moving all the time. I got 55,000 points, which apparently is rather mediocre…

Because we still had a little time before Splash Mountain, we headed across the way to Micro Adventure. “What is that?” you ask? It’s the Japanese name given to the U.S. attraction, “Honey, I Shrunk the Audience.”

We went across the park to Splash Mountain and breezed our way to the front with our FastPass. It was definitely “interesting” listening to the songs in Japanese. (Sample in one of the audio clips below.) Elise wanted to get the photo of us coming down the mountain (to have proof that I actually was with the family), so we did. Afterwards we headed to Big Thunder Mountain but decided to forego it when we saw that the FastPass time was 9 p.m.


We headed to Pirates of the Caribbean and queued up, preparing to wait the 60 or so minutes that was shown at the back of the line. But the line went quickly and we only waited about half the time. After exiting the ride we stopped at a nearby crepe restaurant and had some dessert crepes.

From there we went across the park again to the Haunted Mansion. This being the Halloween season, the Mansion was said to be decorated all for it. Even though the wait time was predicted to be about 80 minutes we decided to wait for it. Like Pirates, the actual wait turned out to be about half the time. The Mansion was decorated in The Nightmare Before Christmas theme.

Elise and the girls rode the teacups, and that was it for the attractions. Elise wanted to stay to watch the Electric Parade – a wait of about 2-1/2 hours. We wandered about the different shops and such.

I had started to get a headache around noon and by this time had gotten quite severe. After browsing a number of shops, it was becoming unbearable and I decided to sit and rest for the remainder of the evening.

The ladies went off to watch the parade. After a while the parade came through close enough to where I was resting so that I could see it go by in the distance.

And then it was time to head back into Tokyo and home. We boarded the train and at our transfer in Tokyo, we decided to stop and get some supper. Tokyo station is huge and it is like a mall. There are all sorts of shops. We ended up at an Italian restaurant where we had spaghetti and a lasagna. Then it was back onto the train for home.

A few audio clips:

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Four Migraines in Eight Days

Yeah, I think I’m ready to head back home; away from big crowds, lots of noise, and ceaseless activity. I handled it okay the first week, but with the second it seems like my stress reserves had worn down to nothing and every little thing seemed to lead to a headache.

In under 24 hours we will be heading off to Narita Airport.

More Optical Illusions

These images are from my dad.

This is a video of a painting that appears to change perspective as the viewer moves around. The end of the video gives a hint as to how the painting is constructed to allow this illusion to occur.