Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Family Games

Whenever I go to my family's house for supper, we almost always without exception play a game after dinner. On Friday night when we played Stock Market, Elijah "stealthily moved" her stock with the largest number of shares to his side of the board. Anna looked and looked for the shares. First she blamed me and I kept telling her, they're right in front of you! It was so funny that we even got out the camera and took this clip right as she finally found the stock.

Now this may be one of those - you had to be there to actually think it's funny kind of clips, but I sure laughed a lot at this situation when it happened!

Next, I took a clip of Elijah playing and being a bit silly. As a family I think people tend to imagine that we're quite serious, but once you get to know us better, you'll find we're as crazy (at times) as anyone else.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Funny YouTube Song

Elijah sent me the link to this funny song - enjoy!

He made a bedtime song too, click here for Pachelbel Bedtime

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Trials and Temptations (James 1:12-15)

Here it is almost Sunday already and I have not yet posted my notes from Pastor Tony's sermon on James last Sunday!

12Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.
13When tempted, no one should say, "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. 15Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

Pastor Tony begin by reminding us that the temptation, testing and trials are useful because they reveal you for who you are. We were reminded that no one is beyond messing up. We shouldn't be surprised when we fail - God certainly is not. When you mess up, it's a chance to see who you are and who God can be in your life.

Jesus knew that Peter was going to deny him and yet said in John 14 that He was going to prepare a place for him. God promises a crown to those who stood the test.

The passage goes on to remind us that God will never do anything in your life to entice you to sin in action or word. Trials are to see who you are and who he is, not to cause you to sin. We are drawn away by our own evil desire. Our flesh is selfish and self-absorbed. A satanic lure that looks attractive to you is what entices our selfish desires. We can be enticed by satisfaction, pleasure or any goal other than God such as keeping up with others, a desire for power. Satan can place thoughts in your mind (remember Peter who told Jesus he wasn't going to die, and was rebuked as speaking Satan's words). Satan can entice us by helping us justify what we want. People can look for things that satisfy themselves in crowd dynamics. A relationship with Jesus is really a lot of one-on-one time walking and seeing who we really are.

Desire to have it your way then gives birth to sin. The devil can't "make you do" anything - it all begins with your own desire. A check on your desire for money can be made by realizing that if you love money more than God's word it will be seen by how you compromise God's word to get more of it. This can be done by "kissing up" to certain people in order to get a promotion.

Then sin is born. It's a helpless baby we think we can handle. We feel superior and in control of it. But, it grows and when fully grown it brings death. The further we get from Jesus, the more susceptible we are to Stan's attack. You'll discover what you are and you will reap what you sow. We are guilty and responsible for our own sinful desires.

The message wan't one that made me "feel good." It's a reminder to examine the motivation of my heart. In me is nothing good but for Christ.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Debt and Serving

This evening as I caught up with reading my favorite blogs, I read this great article about debt and serving by Randy Alcorn. Randy points out that since the bible speaks of being able to lend which means that someone is borrowing, it is therefore sometimes permissible to borrow. But, just because it's okay to borrow at times, doesn't mean that we should not question our motives and look carefully at the results of debt. The Bible speaks of the righteous being the ones who lend and of borrowing as a curse that comes on the Israelites who are disobedient.

I really liked how he stated the following about debt:

"The Debt Mentality involves:
  • -believing you need more than God has given you the means to have.

  • -believing God doesn't know best what your needs are.

  • -believing God has failed to provide for your needs, forcing you to take matters into your hands.

  • -presuming upon God that just because today's income may be sufficient to make debt payments, so will tomorrow's.

It's one thing to trust God to provide for our present needs (Matthew 6:33). It is another to presume upon him by dictating (via choosing to go into debt) the demand for, amount of and necessary duration of his future provision.

Self-Examining Questions About Debt

1. Is debt my way of getting around depending on God? (Why trust God to provide when I can just go get a loan?)

2. Is debt my means of short-circuiting the God-created means of acquisition-including work, saving, planning, self-discipline, patience and waiting for divine provision?

3. What statement do I make to God when instead of living on what he's provided I insist on going beyond it? What am I saying about his sovereignty, goodness or timing?

4. What effect will my choice to go into debt today have on my ability or willingness to tithe and give freewill offerings tomorrow?

5. What effect will today's choice to go into debt have on tomorrow's freedom to follow God wherever he wants me to go?"

I consider myself to be incredibly blessed to have not yet in my life had to borrow money. God's blessed me abundantly with good health, a great family and a wonderful place to live. A time may come when I will chose to live elsewhere or find it necessary to borrow money for some things. When that time comes, I want to approach that decision with wisdom.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Siblings Breakfast

We had a nice siblings breakfast this morning. The cinnamon rolls turned out well and we had plenty to spare so I brought the smaller containers to my neighbors before coming to work. The rolls are perfect if need something that is quick to fix in the morning as long as you have time the night before. You can find the recipe on cooks.com here. The fudge didn't turn out as well. It's more like really sweet fudge tasting icing. I'm not sure what I did wrong. Rob suggested using it as icing for brownies so I may give that a try. Or, maybe I'll put toothpicks in them and make them into frozen treats! Do any of you have a fudge recipe that works every time? My fudge works ok about every other time and I almost never use the same recipe twice, so if someone has a good recipe, I'd love to try it sometime.

Lydia and Elijah are headed off to college, so this will be their last sibling breakfast for a while. But, if Anna and Jubilee are willing, I'd like to keep having them, even though there are just the three of us!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Busy Evening

This evening I had intended to find some time to write a longer post, but here it is already 10 and I need to get some sleep. So, I'll just let you know how my strange evening went. I almost never cook anything. It's not necessarily because I don't like to cook, but I usually am busy doing other things and just eat something quick when I get hungry. Often if I go home after work, I'm starving when I get there and just want to eat something, anything. Today was no exception, but I stayed off my appetite by eating my traditional carrot on my way home and then some ritz crackers upon reaching my house while I slaved away at a nutritious home cooked meal of 33 cent boxed macaroni and cheese! Now, I don't like to waste time so while I waited for the water to boil and ate the crackers I begin to mix up some yeast dough for cinnamon rolls. That took longer than I though because I couldn't find my shortening and went next door to see my neighbors had any. She didn't have any, but I decided that the butter I had would surely work and left after a few minutes, When I got back home, my dough was already foaming (I guess the yeast was eager to grow!) so I hurriedly added the rest of the ingredients to the dough.

You know that stage when you're kneading bread dough by hand and it's still too sticky and you need just a cup more flour. Well it was at that point that I ran out of flour and realized I would have to clean off my hands and beg some from my neighbors once again. Thankfully the lady I live with saw my plight and had some in another jar. It was just enough to get the dough into the soft and perfect for rising stage.

So, by now the mac 'n cheese was ready and I took one bite and decided that I would attempt to make some fudge while I ate. I had some marshmallows left over from a Sunday School object lesson and had discovered a fudge recipe that used them and chocolate chips which I also had. It also called for evaporated milk so I scoured the cupboards, but found none. Another trip to see Pam . . . This time she had exactly what I needed! While getting the can, her little 1 year old, opened her cupboard and handed me a jar of baby food - this kid knows what he wants! So I opened it up and fed him since Pam was busy cooking dinner. By the time he finished one jar of baby food, I got called away by another neighbor to try this Internet connection since another guy from church was there to help him fix it. In my hurry, I forgot the can of evaporated milk and thus returned after a few minutes. By then, Pam had just about finished dinner and invited me to eat with them. I said, of course (her chicken fajita's look much better than my now cold macaroni)!

We had a good time talking over dinner and eventually I returned home to attempt the fudge. Well, it turned out I had everything else I needed except vanilla - who runs out of vanilla? Anyway, Pam had that and more butter which I needed to make frosting for the cinnamon rolls. Finally I begin to cook the fudge and then got to talk to Gemma (a friend of mine from college) as I continued to cook it (for 6 minutes after boiling) and then stir and stir and stir. It said to stir vigorously after the marshmallows melted for 1 minute. But the fudge never really did its thing so I finally just poured it in it's pudding-like state into the pan.

That took 20 minutes longer than I thought it would take so I was now late at getting to my other neighbors house. He needed a monkey to crawl in his attic and bring a cable from one side to his office on the other side of the house. I was perfect for the job! That was hot work, but I was glad to be able to be useful there. After that I had just enough time to mix up the frosting before sitting down here to write this.

So that's my evening! It was a good night though the cooking wasn't (in my mind) supposed to take so long. Usually a evening at home is spent in a less busy way and I'm able to read or type here. So, if you made it through this crazy post - congratulations and my apologies for wasting a chunk of your day. Tomorrow morning my siblings will come for the weekly sibling breakfast and we'll find out if the cinnamon rolls are any good. Good night!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Chicago Test Update

We finally received official word earlier this week that we did NOT in fact pass the test. So now we get to decide what changes to make and have parts made for another test. Though it's disappointing to have to re-test, it was the result we expected based on what we observed in the test.

Here's a side note on hobbies: Scrapbooking can be useful in an engineering job. I spent most of yesterday choosing the best of the 160+ pictures taken of the test and making "scrapbooking" them in Microsoft word. After seeing the documentation (or lack thereof) in other tests and looking at old pictures and having no idea what they were from we felt it important to document what we did. I also wanted to send pictures to some of the other individuals involved in the test as well as post it for our plant to see. So, if you like to scrapbook, maybe you should be an engineer! No? But seriously, it was fun to get the pictures together though by the end of the document I was absolutely ready to be done!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Good Habits

This morning I thought about habits in my own life and how they work. It's amazing to me how powerful a habit can be for good. According to dictionary.com a habit is "an acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary."

Most of what I do is because of habits. There are many habits learned as a child that carry on for a lifetime. One example is bringing my Bible to church on Sunday mornings. That's a habit I didn't think much about until I saw how many children don't bring their Bibles - that habit hasn't yet been developed by them, but hopefully will be at some point. Other examples are things like brushing teeth, drinking coffee (or hating the taste as I do), reading before you go to sleep and more.

There are many bad habits that can be developed. A habit is I guess similar to an addiction. It's something you do just at times because you have an unconscious desire to do it. If aware of habit forming things, you can look at situations and consciously choose a habit that you would like to carry on for life. For example, in college if you eat in the cafeteria you could drink coke products with every meal. I do like coke (as people in the south call all varieties soft drinks) and could have easily developed that habit of drinking it most of the time. I do also like water and had a habit of drinking it with meals due to how I was raised. Since I realized that if I started a "coke habit" in college I would probably want to continue it later, I chose to drink water as a default and only occasionally drink coke.

It seems most of what I hear about habits deal with breaking bad ones instead of developing the good. Usually a bad habit can only be broken if it is replaced with something else. A google search for "bad habit" brought 1,890,000 results and "good habit" brought 402,000. So from that unscientific survey, we read and write more about the bad ones.

But, back to this morning. When I was about half a mile down the road, I wondered why in the world I do this. I don't really like to get up early, I don't like to run, I don't like being hot (or cold) so why in the world am I outside before light? The answer for today was simple: it's a habit. I don't think much about what time to set my alarm for each night. It goes off around 5 and I get up a little later, get my shoes and head for the door.

If you dig deeper into my reasoning, you'll find that I consciously chose to develop that habit almost two years ago and that I do enjoy having exerted energy in running. I also enjoy being outside each day. I walk instead of running every other day and I like walking as well because it gives me a chance to somewhat randomly thing about strange things like this.

There are other habits that I would like to develop. I have an idea of what a "perfect Miriam" would do and at times try to introduce a new habit. Things like keeping an organized and filed office at work, or always straightening my room at home, or stretching before and after I run are a few of the habits I don't yet have, but wish I did. I've tried at times to establish these habits, but haven't yet had success. As I think about these and other habit, I think I will chose one and strive to implement the action long enough to make it a habit. The real question is: which one shall I chose?

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Asking God for Wisdom (James 1:5-12)

On Sunday evening, Pastor Tony continued his series on the book of James. He covered verses that are confusing to me and gave some suggestions as to his interpretation of them.

In verse 5, we find that God give wisdom bountifully (more than is required) and does not reproach us for asking for wisdom.

When we ask for wisdom, we are told in verse 6 that we must ask in faith without doubting. This is a hard verse to understand. How can a person know if they are asking in 100% faith? Other passages in the gospels talk about someone who doesn't have faith saying I believe help me with my unbelief. Is God making a requirement for us to work up complete faith in this one area alone and if we don't have it then he won't give us anything? It doesn't seem to match up with God's character and how he deals with man to say that a person who asks and doubts a little is an unstable man in ALL he does.

Pastor Tony shared how he has struggled with this passage and doesn't feel that he has it figured out. However he did point out that the would double minded means two minded. It might refer to going partially to God for wisdom and partially to the world. We should be single focused in going only to God for wisdom. He said that there is probably a greater aspect to this then we see.

No matter else the verses mean, we can be encouraged that in the person of Christ there is a great supply of wisdom for us.

Verse 9-11 speak of the rich and the humble brother. Pastor Tony pointed out that the more you get in life the more you are in a sense demoted because God chose those who are poor to be rich in faith. People never seem to think they have enough, but always want just a little bit more. God says that you have more when you have less. You are to boast in your poverty because you are rich in faith and because you have God. Having more will never complete you or make you happy. We should never find our contentment in material things that God gives us bit only in he person of Jesus. God does bless us at times with material things. If he has blessed you, praise him.

Verse 12 speaks of a crown of life that is not salvation but a special reward for those who persevere under the trials of life. It's a crown of victory given because you understood the trial and let God be glorified through it.

Ruth Musical

This week my sister Anna's musical Ruth-From Rejection to Redemption will be presented at my church (Fountain of Grace) in Prattville. I've been amazed to watch it come together in about 6 weeks of practices. Anna has done a great job of directing as well as acting in the play. The actors have learned their lines and the dances in an amazingly short period of time. I'm looking forward to watching the performance this weekend. It's been a fun thing to work on as a family - Mom's helping to coordinate, Dad's playing Boaz, Anna is Ruth, writer, director, choriographer and more, Elijah is taking video, Lydia is running lights, Jubilee is one of the characters (whose name I can't think of), and I'm running sound. Thanks for not just having the idea of the play, but for actually doing it Anna!

This is a short promotional video we made and played at church on Sunday. It will give you a taste of what the play is all about!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

The Authority and Inerrancy of the Bible - Part 2

This is a continuation of review questions from Chapter two of the Wayne Gruden's book Bible Doctrine.

4. Define the term inerrancy and discuss how this idea can be consistent with the Bible's use of the language of ordinary, everyday speech.

Inerrancy defined by Dictionary.com states that it is 1) lack of error; infallibility. and 2) the belief that the Bible is free of error in matters of science as well as those of faith.

Bible Doctrine defines inerrancy as meaning that "Scripture in the original manuscripts does not affirm anything which is contrary to fact." So it means that the Bible always tell us the truth in what it talks about, not that it tells all the facts about every subject.

Though inerrant, the Bible still uses everyday ordinary language that is easily understood by regular people such as the sun rising or such as the number of casualties in a battle reported as 8,000 instead of 7,995 or other measurements. Approximate or round numbers are used in regular speech and are appropriate in many contexts in the Bible.

In the time that the Bible was written, exact quotes were not necessary in quoting someone - in fact quotation marks were not in use at all. So quotes were really usually simply a summary of the correct content of what the person said. So when we see quotes in our Bibles, we need to realize that the writer didn't mean for us to assume that he was writing exactly verbatim what the quoted writer said. So, the Bible can still be inerrant and have loose quotations.

Ordinary people (like us bloggers) were used to write the Bible. So the fact that there are errors in grammar should not be seen as a problem for inerrancy. A southerner who uses what we may deem to be incorrect grammar can have a reputation as a truthful person though his grammar is poor. A persen like me who tends to spell things wronge can, in an incorectly spelled sentanse, right the trugth (yes I know there are problems in that sentence!). God used regular people in their ordinary language.

5. List and respond to three objections to the concept of the inerrancy of Scripture.

1) Some argue that the Bible is only an authority for "faith and practice." People with this belief will say that in matters of history or science the Bible may be in error and will assure you they believe the Bible to be infallible but not inerrant. Infallible is used to mean without error in matters of faith and practice only.

However, the bible itself says that all scripture is useful for us (2 Tim 3:16) and that its perfect and true (Prov 30:5) and we should believe everything written in the prophets (Acts 24:14, Luke 24:14, Rom 15:4, etc.) . When reviewing historical details from the OT referred to in the NT, we see small details used to instruct NT Christians like the three and a half year famine (Luke 4:25-26) , a plot of ground Jacob gave to Joseph (John 4:5), the donkey speaking (2 Pet 2:16) and more. The NT writers didn't seem to think that some parts of the OT were untrustworthy. Although the major purpose of scripture is related to faith and practice, we need to make sure we don't in doing that assume that it is the only purpose in having the scripture. Part of the purpose of the Bible must be to tell us about minor historical details and other aspects of life. it's better to say that the "whole purpose of Scripture is to say everything it does say, on whatever subject." God put every word there for a reason and we should value what he values.

2) Some say that inerrant is a poor word to use since it's so precise and seems to claim a scientific accuracy that we shouldn't use for the Bible. They may also say that the word is not used in the Bible and so we shouldn't use it either.

But inerrancy has been used for hundreds of years and in that word they have always allowed for limitations of speech in ordinary language. Also we use many words like trinity or incarnation that are not in the Bible but useful for summarizing a true concept in one word.

3) Some argue that since we don't have any original manuscripts talking about an inerrant Bible is useless. However, by comparing manuscripts that we do have, it's possible to reconstruct original documents. Through this process, we know what the original manuscripts said for over 99% of the words. Where there are variation, there are often obvious copy errors. In the small percentage of passages with uncertainty about the original text, usually the general sense of the sentence is clear from context. So, in essence the published scholarly tests of the Hebrew OT and Greek NT "are the same as the original manuscripts." So inerrancy should be applied to those as well as the original manuscripts.

6. Name four possible problems that may result from a denial of biblical inerrancy.

1) If we say that the Bible is not inerrant, then are we allowed to lie in small areas too as we imitate God? This would be a dangerous stance to take.

2) If we deny inerrancy, can we really trust anything God says? If it's known that a person is untruthful in one area, we naturally tend to question everything that person says. Denying inerrency will cause us to question portions of the Bible that we disagree with or that are inconvenient for us.

3) A denial of inerrancy makes our brains a higher standard of truth than God's word. We would be saying that we know better than God in some areas.

4) In denying inerrancy, we have to say that the Bible is wrong in its doctrine about the truthfulness and reliability of God's word which would be a major doctrinal concern.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Chicago Pictures

I arrived home from Chicago today. The plane was barely delayed and the trip went very well. We definitely knew we were in Alabama when the blast of heat hit us! The difference between 85º and 100º is huge!

It's good to be home. The test went well though not perfect. There was one part in which we did not meet the requirements and until our project manager there reviews the test results with his boss, we won't know exactly what the outcome will be. Watching the test revealed where our weak spots are so we now know what we will change if we have to do another test. Overall, I was pleased with the test though I would have been much more happy if the results had been completely within the test parameters.

Here's a view of the John Hancock Center from the bottom as well as what we saw from the top at the observation center. I guess you can't help but be amazed at how tall skyscrapers really are! Especially when there are so many in one city!

It always amazes me to see the swimming pools on the top of tall buildings like you do here and at the St. Louis Arch. We only saw out one side of the building. If you want to see more, make sure you visit Chicago on a very clear, cloudless day.

This building was interesting because at first glance it looks like the windows are kinda fancy projecting out like that in the middle. The you realize that it's actually just a really good paint job. Most buildings were not just plain boring buildings but had something special to make them look neat.

While walking around downtown, we also passed the Contemporary Art museum. This car is I guess contemporary art. Rob is wondering how it came out of the ground like that!

Blogs to Note

I've updated some of the blog links on this page. My neighbor Pam has posted an article in memory of her baby Samuel who was still-born in 1997. Note also that her blog address has been updated with corrected spelling. (I wasn't thinking when I set up her blog address last month.)

Also, I added a link to Joshua Harris's blog. I've enjoyed his books as well as the New Attitude Conferences that I've attended so I wanted to share his blog as well.

Finally, take a look that the Girl Talk blog. Some of the posts on here are definitly more for girls, but others are interesting for everyone. I've especially enjoyed reading their recent book reviews on Doing Things Right in Matters of the Heart.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

The Authority and Inerrancy of the Bible

Chapter two of Wayne Grudem's book Bible Doctrine examines the Bible's authority and if it can be trusted as inerrant. The first 3 of 6 review questions and my answers follow:

1. Defend the following statement: "All the words in Scripture are God's words."

In many places, the Bible claims to have a record of God's words. Old Testament prophets often used the phrase, 'Thus says the Lord" and in many places what the Prophets said are referred to as being words that God spoke through the prophet (1 Kings 14:18, Jer 37:2, etc). Although those verses don't claim that all the words in the old testament are God's words, they do demonstrate that we actually have a written record of God's own words. Other passages state that the Book of the covenant or God's laws are considered to be God's words as well (Ex. 24:7). Verses like 2 Tim 3:16 and 2 Pet 1:20-21 in the New testament indicate that all the Old Testament are God's words. The word Scripture used in the New Testament refers to the Old Testament writings and not to any sayings that are recorded in books not part of the canon. In 2 Pet 3:15-16, Peter refers to all the letters that Paul wrote as something that people distort as they do "other scriptures." This comparison classifies the writing of Paul as equal with the old testament scriptures. Paul does a similar thing when he quotes twice from the "scriptures" in 1 Tim 5:18 - one quote is from Deuteronomy and the other from Luke. So in this, we find that at least one of the gospels was also classified as scripture. Therefore, the writers of the New Testament appear to be well aware that more writings were being added to the category of scripture which contain God's own words.

We become convinced that the Bible contains God's words by the Holy Spirit speaking in and through the words of the Bible as we read them. This doesn't happen unless we take the time to actually read what the Bible says. Then we will realize that the Bible is not like any other book, but actually God's words speaking to our hearts.

It's also useful to know that there are external evidences of the truth of the bible through the fulfilled prophecies, changed lives, and accurate historical information.

2. What is meant by the idea that the words of Scripture are "self-attesting"?

If we believe that the Bible is the highest authority, it's impossible to find a higher authority to use a proof that the Bible is God's word. Using human logic or science to try to prove the Bible makes those things to be more reliable or truthful than the Bible. So, the Scripture must be the ultimate authority to prove the Scripture is God's Word.

It does seem to be a circular argument, but that doesn't make it invalid. One must appeal to the highest authority for proof or else it wouldn't be the highest authority. Everyone actually uses this type of circular argument to justify their beliefs: Reason is justified as ultimate authority because it is reasonable; Logic is thought to be highest because it seems logical; human experiences are justified as the only authority for truth because human experiences show a person that is true. So if we all use circular logic when defending a belief in our ultimate authority, how can a person find truth?

In the end, the Bible will show itself to be far more persuasive in it's truth than other religious books or intellectual reason. All other options have inconsistencies and shortcomings while the Bible will prove to be accurate in all its teachings about the world, about us and about God. Since we are sinful, our perceptions are faulty so this will really only happen as the Holy Spirit enables us to be persuaded that the Bible is God's word and is true. So, more knowledge of the Bible and a correct understanding of God and creation together confirm the accuracy of each other. Creation doesn't prove the Bible, but it does give us a greater assurance that the Bible is really the only truly ultimate authority.

3. How can we know God's words are truthful?

If the Bible does indeed contain God's words as argued above, we can be sure of their truthfulness only if we can be sure that God always tells the truth. We learn in the Bible that God doesn't lie in Titus 1:2 and Hebrews 6:18. So if God can't lie, then then his word's (the scriptures) must be truthful and without error. The Bible is not just true, but it is actually the ultimate standard of truth itself (see John 17:17). So, there will never be a fact of science or history ever discovered that will contradict the Bible. God has known everything forever so he will not be contradicted by any new human discovery. It is possible that man has incorrectly interpreted the Bible to say something that it did not teach so we must reexamine the Bible when what are thought to be new facts are discovered that seem to contradict the bible to see if the facts are false of if man's interpretations of the Bible are false.

----- the next 3 questions will come hopefully sometime soon this week. After an hour of answering these questions, I feel the need to stop and do something else since my brain is tired!

Chicago - Test Tomorrow

Today, the final pieces were installed on the doors for the fire test. The installation has gone amazingly smooth without any insurmountable surprises.

The test should begin tomorrow morning. We have to be there at 8 and the test should start by 9. If all goes well, it may be finished just after 12.

This afternoon after dropping the superintendent who led the installation off at the airport, Rob and I did a little sight seeing in Chicago. We were able to see a bit of downtown Chicago. The buildings are really quite pretty in Chicago. I will post some pictures sometime after I get home. We went up to the John Hancock Observatory and then had a nice lunch at the Cheesecake Factory. The view from the top was hidden on three sides by clouds, but we did see out (the west side I think) down to the ground. We also read about Chicago's growth as a city in a display up in the Observatory.

This afternoon, I've been catching up on my blog reading. I'm now using Google's reader so I won't miss anything - Thanks Elijah for suggesting the reader! I read one of Josh Harris's new posts and then scrolled down and read many of the older posts that I never actually read before. I found this one about online dating interesting as I have used eharmony in the past. It brings up some good advice in the pastoral counsel section.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Chicago, Flying and Eternity

For many, a business trip typically involves traveling a distance greater than one desires to drive so a plane flight is a necessity. I've always somewhat enjoyed flying. It's fun to look out the windows, you (typically) get somewhere faster than if you drove, and you are going somewhere that is either new or different from your home. Though I usually do prefer to be home and am always glad to return, traveling is nice and usually provides something interesting to look back on or tell people about once you are home.

There seem to be a huge number of people who travel for business almost full time. I think that for them the excitement of travel is completely lost. Frustration due to delays are a way of life that either build or are dealt with calmly as they come.

I am certainly glad that my business travels has been limited to a couple times a year. Right now I'm back in Chicago for a fire test for one of our products. There were problems when we tried this six weeks ago, so we're back to try again.

The trip home last time took a turn for the worse when we were almost stranded for 24 hours in Charlotte. The flight from Charlotte to Montgomery was cancelled only a few minutes before it was to board. We soon found out that our options were to either wait 24 hours for the next flight with empty seats to Montgomery or to fly to Birmingham later that night. As my mom was willing to pick us up from Birmingham, we gratefully took that flight.

The annoyance of changing flights, having to inconvenience my mom to pick us up, not getting home until midnight, then getting suitcases the next day and arrangements to pick up my car from the Montgomery airport convinced us that layovers were not a good idea. When planning this trip to Chicago, we were excited to find that we could get a direct flight from Birmingham. What could go wrong? The weather was great and we were on time to the airport.

Upon finding our gate, we noticed that the time for our departure flight had changed to an hour later. Not a big deal. Waiting an hour is not too bad. As time went on, flight updates were scarce and the updates we received were never true. The flight was always an hour away, but somehow the plane never arrived. Almost five hours after our intended departure, our plane finally arrived in Birmingham and we were soon off.

Arriving in Chicago and getting the car and driving to the hotel went well and sleep was quite welcome. Something about not getting to sleep until midnight will make one appreciate rest! Today's installation went well. We had no problems so far and I hope that tomorrow we will finish all that we need to do in preparation for the Thursday test.

Why is it that I get annoyed at airport delays? Is it because I sense that the airport flight announcements are intentionally misleading and I like the truth? Is it because I feel that I have a right to get on the plane at the time my ticket says?

There is really nothing difficult about sitting in an airport - especially when you are in a comfortable building and have a book to read. In reality, I didn't really get that annoyed at the delay, it just gets annoying when you realize that almost every trip seems to have similar delays. When will airlines find a way to avoid these types of delays? Or when will we learn to drive instead of flying?

Life in the long run can be compared in some ways to my flight to Chicago. As believers we know that this life is just a spec of time compared to the eternity we will spend in heaven. We are really on a journey to heaven. All we know is that someday soon we will be there. We never really know the exact time the last leg of the journey will take place. We can either use the time we have in transit for good or just waste the time in unholy pursuits. One of these days we will arrive and maybe we'll be surprised at how soon that will be.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

DVD conversions

If you've ever tried to upload video from a dvd to youtube or tried to modify movie clips with .vob files in microsoft movie maker, you probably have run into the same problems I've had this week. Most free software out there that converts .vob files will only work for the first 5 minutes of a file (unless you pay for the full version). On Thursday, Elijah and I found a cool piece of free software called AutoGK that will not only convert the files, but also allows you to set the maximum file size of the new file. This way you can set the video to be under the 100Mb that youtube requires and sill have the best quality possible. Here are the two weeks of Peru videos taken by the Lima Peru church for Fountain of Grace's mission trip.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Killer Baby (as Pastor Tony calls it)

I'm taking a break from Romans and going through the book of James for the next few weeks. Today I read James 1:13-15 which talks about the deception of sin. It comes as an evil desire that entices a person to sin and then brings death. This evil baby picture is one I borrowed from Pastor Tony that he uses to illustrate these verses. Check out Pastor Tony's excellent devotional "The Child who Grows Up to Kill" here.