Friday, December 25, 2009


Shelley gave me one of her art pieces as a Christmas gift. It is quite an interesting work. Now I just need to find a place to hang it.


Thursday, December 24, 2009

Television and mood

We don’t normally watch any TV. Not that I have any particular objection to it. It’s just that there are so many other things to do.

We have guests here this week and the TV has been running infinitely more (really, because compared to zero, any value is infinitely greater) this week. Shelley complained that watching TV makes her grumpy. I don’t think that is too surprising. I think there is something about TV and movies that short-circuits something in the brain and perhaps even damages things in there.

I have read/heard of studies that have shown that any kind of video (TV, movies, computers, video games) should not be allowed for any child under six or seven because it stunts neural development and results in permanent damage. Particularly dangerous are the so-called “educational” videos and games. Even though they supposedly provide some kind of cognitive enhancement and/or interaction, any benefit is far outweighed by the long-term damage.

One of the main problems I see of video-based entertainment, infotainment, informative programs, and education is that it subconsciously trains people to accept everything that is seen. I think there is something about the visual pathway that we automatically grant a kind of integrity and authenticity to, even if it is completely false. Radio only employs the auditory pathway, and we are think about what we hear. Video, in my opinion, appears to bypass many of those gatekeepers. Books, although visual, aren’t pictures so the words get processed differently and we think about what we read.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Sermon: A Gospel of Great Joy

(Click HERE for MP3 sermon audio.)

Text: Luke 1-4; Luke 24:36-53; Exodus 33:18-19; Exodus 34:5-7

When the angels appeared to the shepherds, one of them first has to say to them, “Do not be afraid,” followed by the proclamation [related to evangelize], “A good news [gospel] of great joy.” The rest of the angels then sang, “Glory to God in the highest…”

From this account it appears that the gospel already exists, even as Jesus was only a few hours (or less) old. This sermon examines the connection between fear, glory, gospel, and joy. The connections help us see what the core of the gospel is, and what it is that evangelism entails. When the gospel is understood and accepted as God desires, fear of Him turn into joy.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Very Cold, Warm, Cold

The cold spell that held Petersburg in its grip for nearly two weeks lost its hold yesterday as the daytime temperature warmed up 44 overnight. The snow turned into rain, and quite a torrential one at that. During the night I heard the rain, given extra force by strong winds, beating down on the roof and windows. Nearly all of the snow and ice that covered roads and driveways have been washed away.

However, this morning the temperature once again began to drop and the rain turned to snow. We once again have a light dusting of snow on the roads.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Sermon: Outside the Box

(Click HERE for MP3 sermon audio.)

Text: Luke 2:8-20

The Nativity story, when viewed from the perspective that Jesus was born in a private residence, rather than a lonely stable set apart from the rest of society, enhances, rather than detracts, from the gospel message. This perspective further adds weight to the point that the gospel is for all people, even those “outside the box” that is frequently socially and religiously acceptable. This perspective is also more in line with Luke’s gospel theme in which it is the common people and outsiders that readily accept Jesus among their midst.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

It is Frigid

The skies cleared and the cold has settled in. This is the first real blast of true, cold weather this winter. It seems to be a little later this year than in the past three.

When it is clear and cold like this, the scenery, particularly at sunrise and sunset, is quite beautiful. But when the temperature doesn’t rise above 25, it feels cold all day, even inside the house.

The cold weather is forecast to last all week.

Holiday Literary 2009

Yesterday afternoon the city library hosted the annual Holiday Literary. It was the traditional mix of music, readings, and poetry. This year our Amy was featured as this year’s Poet Laureate. She read a couple of winter-themed poems. (Click HERE for audio.)


Sermon: Inside the Box

(Click HERE for MP3 sermon audio.)

Text: Luke 2:1-7

The Christmas story has been in the Christian tradition since its inception. What we have accepted as the traditional Christmas story is shaped greatly by the box of our own traditions and culture. What really happened may likely have been quite different. This sermon unpacks part of the Christmas story outside of the traditional box to see how it likely looks when understood from a Middle Eastern context. This is a caution that everything we understand is shaped to some degree by the boxes of our own experiences; that before we presume the privilege of explaining our viewpoint and beliefs, we should first strive to understand the other viewpoint.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Pickup Truck Not Running Well

Shelley will be part of the cast for the high school play this coming February. It is Alice in Wonderland and she will be playing the part of the Duchess and a couple of other roles. Practice occurs four nights a week.

This evening while taking her to the school for practice our pickup truck engine started to hesitate and hiccup. A few blocks later the “Service Engine Soon” light came on. Unfortunately this is something that I’m sure will have to be examined. We do have a repair shop in town, but I’m sure it is going to end up in the hundreds of dollars.


A nice holiday gift for the local repair shop, I suppose…