Friday, December 15, 2006

Update and Good Sermon

I'm possibly back to the once a week posting. Hopefully I'll be able to improve my frequency soon.
Since my last post I've watched Mr. and Mrs. Smith, taken Anthony job-hunting, watched the Nativity Story, finished The Eye of the World and started The Great Hunt, done some Christmas shopping, given away food and Christmas presents in Waukegan, watched The Librarian : the Quest for the Spear, moved some videos out of my office, had a good prayer time with the guys from the LifeGroup, watched the Bears kick Ram-butt, cataloged some books, heard a message to the youth on trusting God from another of the high school students who used to be in my small group, taken Anthony to get an i.d. and some work clothes, talked to Mom, shocked co-workers by showing up before 8 a.m., taken Anthony to his work orientation at a local theatre, eaten boneless wings, watched Talledega Nights with some friends again, finished and discussed The Gutenberg Elegies for our library task force on information and the future, created a long run list of stuff I've done. Tonight Steve and I are going to see Eragon in an attempt to help Steve recover from a long day of inventory. I've not read the book and I'm not really expecting much, so it should be o.k.

This Sunday we got to hear from self-proclaimed bald-guy #3 instead of the one of the Johns. Greg is a Ph. D. student in New Testament at TEDS and I thought he had a very good sermon on dealing with selfishness in the holiday season from Philippians 2:3-11. The title was Christmas Ahead: Prepare to Yield. He began by telling us about an interview in the newspaper with a local mall parking lot security guard that illustrated people's selfishness this time of year. He also used a personal example of his own selfishness when he was in East Asia. Turning to the passage he structured it around the command in verse 3-4 with reasons for obedience from the following verses. According to verse 3 we should do nothing out of vain ambition or empty conceit. Greg likened this to a prima donna attitude that assumes the world exists to serve or fulfill me. Instead Paul challenges us to count others as more important than ourselves. Verse 4 expands on this by encouraging us to yield to the interests of others. Greg mentioned the common attitude that this is a nice principle but is not for the real world where nice guys finish last and we don't want to be doormats. He acknowledged the force of that objection, especially if the world is a closed system but argued that verses 6-11 show a different way to live.

Greg pointed to the argument of 2 Corinthians 8:8-9 where we have nothing to offer Christ but he becomes poor that we might become rich. Coming back to Philippians, we yield because we share the mind of Christ. According to verse 5 we should seek conformity with the live of Christ because he defines our existence. Therefore we should look at people and things as he did.
We yield for others because Christ did. Christ was the son of God and fully divine but he did not grasp onto his equality with God but willingly gave it up to take the form of a man, no longer the King but now a servant. As a servant he was obedient to the Father even to the point of dying on a cross, a death designed to display the criminal as an object of shame. The beauty of the Christmas story lies in God choosing to become man for our benefit.
We also yield because what happens here is not the end. We share in the destiny of Christ. The humiliation of the Son of Man was only temporary. The Father restores the glory and honor that the son had relinquished. As his followers we share in the suffering and humiliation of Christ but we will also have a share in His eternal glory. This is shown in Philippians 3:20-21 and Romans 8:16-17. We should expect our life to follow the same pattern as his, suffering and humiliation for a season, glory for eternity. Greg used the example of climbing the Yellow Mountains to watch the sunrise. It was a great deal of suffering getting up the mountain but beauty the next morning. He called us to imagine what our lives would be like if we were willing to yield.
As a result of the conviction I was feeling during the sermon and the communion and singing that followed. I went out with our church's monthly food delivery to a poor neighborhood in Waukegan. We deliver bags of groceries and this week we also had presents for the children. It was a good time and I was glad to be able to serve.

Verse of the week:
"Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Philippians 2:3-11 (ESV)

Friday, December 08, 2006

Why I Don't Have a Christmas Tree

I'm not really a Scrooge I just don't have any real enthusiasm for decorating my home or office for Christmas. My friend Matt put his finger on the issue this morning at work. I don't have a tree or decorate my apartment because I don't celebrate Christmas there. Christmas for me centers (focuses?) for me on two things, meditating on God's love shown in Christ's incarnation and celebrating with loved ones.
The former hasn't really involved any decorations for me. I know there are people out there attempting to invest trees, wreathes, and candy canes with Christian meaning but those attempts have never really resonated with me. There was a Wizard of Id cartoon once where the Spook (the prisoner) was given a Christmas tree by one of the guards. Somehow Spook knocked all the needles off, maybe by sneezing on it. The guard looks in on Spook and says, "Great! You've ruined the symbol of Christmas." Spook is standing there looking at a bare tree in the shape of a cross. I'd rather honor Christmas by reading a chapter from one of the Gospels every day, meditating on the Magnificat, and reading a book on the incarnation than by putting up decorations. Traditional decorations don't have much meaning for me so I don't spend time on them. But maybe this year I'll try out my nativity set.
The latter point also plays against decorations. I enjoy getting together with friends and family at Christmas and exchanging gifts, eating, singing, even decorating trees (at least watching people who enjoy decorating trees do it). But these are not things I do where I live. I don't have people over to my apartment for Christmas parties. The parties are held by people with bigger places who enjoy throwing parties. Eventually we reach the last few days before Christmas and I drive south to celebrate with Mom and Daddy, with the folks in Corbin, with the Campbells and Whites, with Lydia and Geron and Cora (Huzzah!), with Ann and Daniel. Christmas doesn't really happen in my apartment because there's hardly ever anyone there on 12/24-25. A few years ago when I lived with Matt, he put up some decorations because his sisters were coming to visit him for Christmas. He put up some lights and bought a couple of little "postmodern Christmas trees" at Ikea. I liked those trees. I came home one day and there on our end table was a red pyramid about a foot tall and maybe 4" wide at the base and a silver cone about the same size. Those were our Christmas trees the two Christmas seasons I lived with Matt. I was happy to find out that they had made it into his and Unity's decorations this year. But if his sisters hadn't been coming we may never have had them.
There was a time when I was a kid that a tree was an important part of Christmas and I'd still like there to be one at Mom and Dad's. One year when it was certain that my parents weren't going to have a tree Lydia or Ann drew one on posterboard and tacked it to the wall where the tree would have been. I like a tree where I'm celebrating but I'm not putting one up, so maybe the whole thing just comes down to laziness or thrift. I don't want to spend the energy or the time.

Christmas List

1. Eggnog or Hot Chocolate?
Hot Chocolate

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree?
"Santa" wraps them.

3. Colored lights on tree/house or white?
I don't know that I have a preference for the tree. I like blue lights on the houses. There's a house nearby with Hanukkah lights that I like.

4. Do you hang mistletoe?
No. I try to avoid opportunities for kissing my roommates and I'm sure they appreciate that as well.

5. When do you put your decorations up?
Currently never. It used to be when we got around to it.

6. What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)?
Hard to beat country ham. I also like Dad's steaks or goulash (not traditionally holiday dishes but we often have one or the other for Christmas lunch) and Mom's scalloped oysters.

7. Favorite Holiday memory as a child:
I don't have a lot of specific childhood holiday memories. I like the time I was planning to kiss Rudolph when Santa came.

8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa?
I don't remember when, I'm pretty sure it was on Whig Ct. My memory is that I hid behind the couch and saw Mom and Dad putting out the presents. I don't know if that's a reliable memory.

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve?
No. Though we used to go over to Uncle Mike and Aunt Marcie's when they lived in Frankfort on Christmas Eve and we'd open their gifts to us then.

10. How do you decorate your Christmas Tree?
I place it in a prime natural location such as a forest, tree farm, sales lot, or in a store and allow God to do with it as he sees fit.

11. Snow! Love it or Dread it?
I love it except when driving.

12. Can you ice skate?
I used to could. I might still could. I used to like the falling. I doubt I'm as enthusiastic about it as I once was.

13. Do you remember your favorite gift?
The Alamo that Dad made for me.

14. What's the most important thing about the Holidays for you?
Reflecting on God's love in Jesus' incarnation.

15. What is your favorite Holiday Dessert?
Sentimentally it's Granny's sugar and fruitcake cookies. Realistically it is probably her fudge.

16. What is your favorite holiday tradition?
I enjoy listening to "How Come Christmas?" I especially liked the inadvertant pause that always snuck in when Sandy Claus said, "Thank you kindly ... Lawd." Daddy would read the first part as if it were the whole sentence. Then when he turned the page he'd add the rest. I was a little sad when he started to remember it.

17. What tops your tree?
Pine needles I suppose.

18. Which do you prefer giving or Receiving?
I actually prefer receiving. Giving is nice but is always accompanied by a tinge of "will they like it?" anxiety.

19. What is your favorite Christmas Song?
O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.

20. Candy Canes! Yuck or Yum?

21. Favorite Christmas movie?
Maybe in a couple of days I'll say the nativity story but for now it's either National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation or It's a Wonderful Life

22. What do you leave for Santa?
He can have my tree.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Checking IN

Natives were getting restless so I thought I'd drop a post on here. It's hard to believe it's almost three weeks since the last time I posted anything. It doesn't seem like that long. There was plenty of stuff that was blogworthy by the ever so stringent editorial standards I've set for myself. For instance I've discovered that Target occasionally sells almost perfect Braeburn apples and I've learned that it really is "occasionally." I've had a very frustrating period at work wherein I discovered my computer was not working. At one point it appeared that whatever was affecting my computer had jumped to my phone but I learned that was merely a new person being trained at the help desk. It was a relief. I had started to worry if my car was going to be next. I had a great trip home for Thanksgiving and got to see a wonderfully beautiful and sick baby girl. I still had fun holding her and I'm glad she's on the mend. I got to see a fun penguin movie with great people and got to eat lots of country ham and eggs. There was turkey too, and mom's scalloped oysters. Daddy and I got to watch 6 football games in one weekend. I got to sing in a choir for the first time this year. I got to listen to John Piper's book Desiring God, for the second time this year. I had some fun with friends, heard a few good sermons and youth messages, and participated in some good Bible studies. Except for the computer junk it was a good month. I'm looking forward to the next one.

Quote of the day:
"God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him." John Piper

Verse of the day:
"One thing I ask of the Lord,
this is what I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord
and to seek him in his temple." Psalm 27:4 (NIV)

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Noah's Tuesday

This previous Tuesday night Noah, one of the high school students, taught our junior high group. He spoke on God as the Rock, focusing on God's unchangable character, that He can be our refuge in time of trouble, and on Jesus' parable in Mt. 7:24 and following that the one who hears his words and does them will be like a wise man building his house on a rock. It was a good message. Noah also spoke to the group over the summer during our Old Testament character series. I think he spoke about David, but I'm not sure. I've known Noah and his family almost since the first week I came to the church. His dad led our drama ministry back when I started. Both Noah and his older brother were in my small group in 3-D when they were in middle school. Now his brother's heavily involved with Campus Crusade for Christ at Illinois St. and Noah's a senior. For those who've seen my Mazatlan pictures from a couple of years ago, Noah was David in our David and Goliath skit. We walked around the city quoting O Brother Where Art Thou together while we served the poor and shared the gospel. He's also a karate star. He teaches karate to kids and a couple of months or so ago he competed at the Pan Am games down in South America. Both Noah and his brother passed through some major struggles with their faith and both have come out stronger for it. They've got a lot of living to do but they can testify to God's steadfastness and unchangeable character. One of the things I love about junior high ministry is watching kids go on to grow and mature in faith and seeing the people them become. I'm proud to know Noah.

Verse of the Day:

"The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name's sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD
forever." Psalm 23 (ESV)
This is one of Noah's favorite passages.

Quote of the day:
"Do not seek the treasure." Pete
"We thought you was a toad." Delmar
Pete looks puzzled
" toad." Delmar
"Do not seek the treasure! It's a bushwhack!" Pete
O Brother, Where Art Thou

Thursday, November 09, 2006

TRUSTing and Verse of the Day

2nd John's sermon this Sunday was on trusting God in the midst of fear and was based in Isaiah 37:1-20. The context of this passage is Sennacherib's siege of Jerusalem. Hezekiah, King of Judah, has been leading a revival turning his people back to the worship of God in the temple. Somehow he has angered Sennacherib, King of Assyria, and the Assyrians have invaded Judah and besieged Hezekiah. You can read the story in 2 Kings 18-19, 2 Chronicles 32, and Isaiah 36-37. It's also believed by some that Psalm 76 was written in response to these events. John began the sermon by talking about different fears we face in life and then set the context of the passage. The body of the sermon was based on the acronym T.R.U.S.T.

Turn to God: Hezekiah, having previously failed to solve the Assyrian problem on his own, now goes into the temple and lays his problems before God. When we face difficulty where do we turn first? That shows who we're trusting. We should begin with God.

Recognize our need: Hezekiah dresses in the garb of repentance and sends his officials to the prophet Isaiah to seek his prayers then he describes his helpless and desperation to the Lord. We need to be able to admit our helplessness to God and others.

Understand God is in control: (I prefer, Understand who God is) In verse 16 Hezekiah acknowledges three crucial things about God. 1. He is the Lord of Hosts therefore He is a God of power. 2. He is the God of Israel enthroned above the Cherubim. This is a reference to the Ark of the Covenant in the temple which was the symbol of God's presence with His people, therefore He is a God who is near and who has chosen to be in relationship to this people and they are His. 3. He is the creator God over the kingdoms of the Earth, therefore no earthly problem, even the great King of Assyria, is too great for Him. It's good for us to remain in God's word so that we remember who He is.

Speak the truth to God: Hezekiah lays Sennacherib's letter before God and speaks his fears. Here John connected Philippians 4:6-7 and the great exchange we can make by giving God our fears and receiving His peace.

Trust God's character: In v.20 Hezekiah appeals to God's glory and reputation. What might we do if we truly trusted God to be who He says He is and sought His glory in and with our lives?

Verse of the Day:
"O LORD of hosts, God of Israel, who is enthroned above the cherubim, you are the God, you alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; you have made heaven and earth." Isaiah 37:16 (ESV)

Monday, November 06, 2006

Quick Update, Verse, A Couple of Quotes

It's been a fun couple of weeks. Since I've last blogged I've worked, read a lot of fairly useless stuff on the internet, attended a panel discussion with some students and library staff on technology and library use, participated in a Fall Fun Fest at church as parking/security team leader, attended a great halloween party as a suburban nazgul, heard a couple of good sermons at church from Matt, who's having a new baby for Sam and Ben to be big brothers to, and 2nd John, had a good Lifegroup discussion of 1 John 2:15-27, gotten a new roommate to go along with Steve for a while, served the youth, prayed for college students, heard three great lectures (or one sermon and two lectures) by Quentin Schultze at Trinity, worked some more, didn't take the new roommate to Ohio, studied more of 1 John, saw, liked, and pondered the movie "The Prestige," watched a painful Bears loss and two fantastic Colts wins, played a game of disc golf, and blogged once.

There might be more details on some of those things at some point. Last Monday a friend who's been in and out of trouble with the law and who's trying to walk with God was sharing about some of the problems he'd been having where he was staying. Steve and I offered to let him come live with us while he tries to get back on his feet. He had been told a while ago by some relatives in Ohio that he could come stay with them if he could get down there. Steve and I talked it over and thought it would be fun to go on a roadtrip so we offered to drive him to Ohio. Unfortunately we found out that his aunt there had a full house and no longer had a place for him. So he's still staying with us until he can make his next step. He'd like to get out of this area to get away from some bad relationships and try to make a clean break with his past but he doesn't know what to do. Hopefully we can encourage him and help him.

Verse of the day:
"Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world-- the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions--is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever." 1 John 2:15-17 (ESV)

Quotes of the Day:
1st the serious
"Let us flee the world. For what have we got in common with it? Let us run and pursue until we have laid hold of something that is permanent and doesn't pass away, for all things perish and pass away like a dream, and nothing is lasting or certain among the things which are seen." Symeon the New Theologian (10th c. abbot in Constantinople)

2nd the humorous
"Mosquitos, the silent killer. You could be dead and not even know it. Mosquitos." 2nd John in Sunday's sermon
"WHAT AN AWESOME BLOCK! THERE'S A BIRD!" EM (not me). You probably had to be there for this one to be funny. He shouted it during a kickoff return in the Bears game yesterday. There were a lot of pigeons on and around the field.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Verse of the Day and Quotes from the Weekend

Verse of the Day:

"Then Isaiah said, "Hear now, you house of David! Is it not enough to try the patience of men? Will you try the patience of my God also? Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel." Isaiah 7:13-14 (ESV)

Quotes from the Weekend
"Mutant powers make it seem less real." My response on finding out Gambit's ability to throw exploding playing cards was a mutant power.

"We can't all be a uvula." EM
"That's just never going to be a slogan." EW in a conversation about the Bible's teaching on the different parts of the body of Christ

"It's like I've got apples and pears and bananas and somebody gave me macademia nuts." Speaker at a conference on Friday referring to the problems inherent in trying to merge two indexing databases.

"Hey numbskull, you're still on the tracks." EM to a train engineer who had stopped his train in an intersection. I meant he was still on the road.

"Sometimes there's a skunk at the bottom of the woodpile and it's us.... [pause while the congregation laughs] I'm just an old Tennessee boy." 3rd John during his sermon on Sunday.

Monday, October 23, 2006

A Eugoogoly for Homemade Mullet, 10/21/2006-10/23/2006

He was a fine lad, if a bit uneven, and lot ugly. He had his detractors, "What did you do to your hair?!" "I just can't take you seriously with that haircut." "You did that yourself, didn't you." but he also had supporters, "Sweet mullet!" "You should wear that all week." "You cut your hair. I like it. (probably spoken by someone with only a frontal view of the head)" "Nice haircut. (potentially sarcastic)" He was born from the head and the clippers on October 21st at around 4:30 p.m. He was a fun loving, '80's partying kind of haircut. He made his true debut to mixed acclaim and slight controversy later that evening at Ms. Woodbridge's birthday party. He was called brave by his friends but, tragically, ugly by his father. HM was a decent church-going fellow and by his first morning even his father had moments of admiration for him. He wasn't too popular with the jr. high girls, but the same could be said of many an adult heart throb. He had a certain haberdasherly panache that afternoon as he accompanied many friends through a maize-y labyrinth. Twice he slept through the night but his life was tragically cut short Monday morning when the same head and clippers that bore him slaughtered him as he was preparing for work around 8:30 a.m.

RIP Homemade Mullet. You might not have been the really, really, ridiculously good looking; you weren't the prettiest hair in any room, and you won't be missed, but you'll be remembered with joy, laughter, and relief. Good night, sweet coif.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Snow and a Clean(er) Room

It snowed here yesterday. It may snow again later today. If I recall correctly in my four years of college in Minnesota it never snowed noticeably this early in the year (though they've probably got snow now). It got real cold (cold enough to make your teeth hurt) and flurried the third weekend of October '91, and of course it snowed three feet on Halloween that year, but yesterday still felt unique. It even stuck yesterday for an hour or so before it melted. It was a pretty morning.

I took yesterday off to stay home and do some cleaning. I've been frustrated for a while with the state of my bedroom but haven't felt like I've had the time to do anything about it. Of course if I read Flylady I'd know that I had the time, but I don't so I didn't. All my free time I end up hanging out with friends or watching stuff on t.v. Finally it occurred to me that I get a day off for my birthday to be used anytime in October and if I took that day then there wouldn't be anything good on t.v. and all my friends would be at work. So I took it. I got to sleep for about 10 hrs., do 6 loads of laundry, put away all my cd's, do dishes, put all my commentaries and Bibles back in order, put several items that had come up for various trips this summer back into storage, and consolidate all the random papers lying around my room onto my desk. Now I've got clean clothes and a clean floor and a two feet deep stack of stuff on my desk, which becomes a project for some other time. Still I'm pretty happy with my progress yesterday. The only sad part was that I finished both my birthday Riesen and my French Silk Pie. At least I've still got the Dove dark chocolate.

Verse of the day:
"Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge,
but he who hates reproof is stupid." Proverbs 12:1 (ESV)

Monday, October 09, 2006

Happy Birthday Weekend

That was a long full weekend.
Friday started off with our annual Technical Services Department inventory where we try to account for all the books, etc. that Voyager says we have in various departmental locations. Of the nearly 400 items I was responsible for I found all but four. One of those I'm positive is buried in my office. One I'm pretty sure is just gone. The other two I don't think anybody'll miss but hopefully they'll turn up somewhere. It's a long, hard process but I'm glad we do it. After work I joined a professor from the college for a game of The War of the Ring. It was supposed to involve a team from the library and a team from Information Technology but it ended up just being me and Dr. Fratt. He took the basic game, which is based on the events depicted in The Lord of the Rings, and turned it into a huge elaborate setup. He made a massive map of Middle Earth, maybe 6'X12' and then set up mountain ranges and fortresses and has lots of miniature soldiers as well as 6" LotR action figures. We played for a few rounds over a couple of hours as he taught me the game. It was fun. After that I headed up to Grayslake, about 20-30 min. from Trinity, to the College of Lake County where one of the college students from church had a drawing in an art gallery show at the college. The show was a juried show for Lake County artists so it was more than just a student show and entries had to be judged to get in. Josiah told me about it last Sunday at church and invited me to the opening. He's a gifted artist and I remember some of the stuff he'd drawn back when he was in the junior high youth group and being impressed. It was a neat drawing and a big honor for him to be included in the show. I'm glad I made it. When I got home I watched The Phantom of the Opera. I don't know how closely the movie sticks to the musical but I was glad to finally get the story that goes with the soundtrack.
Saturday I hosted my first Coen brothers' movie marathon. We started around 10:30 a.m. and watched Barton Fink, The Hudsucker Proxy, Fargo, O Brother, Where Art Thou, and then watched Hudsucker again for the late comers. Dianne came for whole thing and made chili for lunch. She also brought Riesen and Dove chocolate. Steve got home around the end of Fargo and Catherine soon followed. We took a break between Fargo and O Brother and went to the park to stretch out a little and throw the aerobie. When we got back we found that Aaron had joined us. We had some ice cream with our second Hudsucker and eventually everybody left around 10:30. I enjoyed the chance to watch the four movies in succession like that. Also just before everybody left I had another friend turn up whom I hadn't seen in a few months. It turned out that he had been in jail for something someone else had done and had recently been released when the other person confessed. He had a great testimony of how God had been working in his life while he was in jail and it was good to spend some time visiting and catching up. After everybody left I watched Intolerable Cruelty for good measure. I love the Baron's testimony.

Sunday morning we had a another good sermon on Jonah, ch.3, confession, and God's compassion from our associate pastor whom Steve's taken to calling 2nd John. The senior pastor is 1st John and one of our former deacons who also preaches occasionally is 3rd John. While we were hanging around after the service Ann Schwaar gathered a bunch of people around me in a circle and they sang Happy Birthday. Then we went out to Golden Corral for lunch. After lunch some friends felt bad that I didn't have a birthday cake so they went to Bakers Square and bought me a French Silk pie which Sarah took home to refrigerate while a few of us went and played a couple of rounds of disc golf in Libertyville. Following golf we went over to Sarah, Danni, and Mary's for pie and to watch the movie Thank You for Smoking. That was a pretty funny black comedy about a tobacco lobbyist. Finally we made it home. It was a great weekend but very tiring.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

LifeGroup, Dreams, Pizza and Gab

Monday night we had our LIFEgroup meeting in the midst of a tornado warning. You can possibly tell which of us pay any attention to news be seeing who was there and who wasn't. I found out about the tornado warning on Tuesday morning. Oh well. We had a good time discussing 1 John 1:5-7 and walking in the light and fellowship. We'd planned to study more but spent more time on verse 7 than I'd expected. Still it was a good conversation about the nature of Christian fellowship and how we should make time for one another and care for one another. We also had an interesting conversation about dreams before we started the Bible study. I mentioned I had been woken up in the middle of the night by a nightmare about The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (this is why I don't watch horror movies, I get nightmares from the commercials). One bad part of the dream was where I realized it was a dream and woke up, only I was still in the dream. Eventually I woke up for real, before I got shredded, and spent about 20 minutes praying and reading scripture. Anyway that led to conversation about being able to control dreams once you realize it is a dream, recurring dreams, and good dreams or dreams you enjoy. After the nightmare I had had an interesting dream about the editorial board of a journal I read and had remembered specific facts from real life that made the events of the dream plausible. I remember certain kinds of facts anyway but it was odd to find the memory in the dream. A lot of people had flying dreams and at least one other guy shared the problem I often have in dreams where I'm fighting somebody and my punches have no impact.

Tuesday night was our Pizza and Gab time with the youth for this semester. As the name implies this is a night where, instead of our usual format of hang-out, game, teaching, worship, small groups, we order pizza and then sit around talking about stuff. Usually we have students submit questions over the previous couple of weeks and then we select some of the questions and all talk about them together. In the past this has been completely open to any questions students want to ask. This time we tried to have a theme to give it a little more focus. We chose Heaven, Hell, Angels and Demons. We talked about the resurrection body, reincarnation, what Hell is like, and how to get to Heaven. Because our question cards said to ask about anything we also discussed what to do when your parents are getting a divorce and what the Bible says about divorce. It was a good time. We had 23 kids, which may have been our biggest turnout this year. There were three visitors and a couple of regular kids who weren't there.

Verse of the day:
"But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin." 1 John 1:7 (ESV)

Quote of the day:
"When we get our new bodies could it be like an animal you want to be?"
Student question submitted for Pizza and Gab

Gratuitous Coen Brothers' Movie Quote in anticipation of this weekend's marathon:
"Son, you got a panty on your head."

Monday, October 02, 2006

On a Monday, a Monday, a Monday

Despite the crushing pain of not getting a 4th consecutive post on Friday I managed to overcome and have a good weekend anyway.

On Friday night Steve and I got two $5 Dominick's Pizza's, one of the best deals in the business, some Bass and IBC and watched The House of Flying Daggers. We had to cut the movie short to head up to Round Lake and watch an amusing independent film, The Godfather of Green Bay, with Danni, Nicole, and Andrew, natives of Green Bay and Nothern Wisconsin. It was a funny little movie about a couple of comics from L.A. hoping to get noticed by a booker for the Tonight Show at a little bar in Northeast Wisconsin. To make matters worse, one of the comics grew up in Chicago and it's the weekend of the Bears/Packers game (a big deal). Also the Chicago guy is falling for a women who's dating a drug dealer known as the Godfather of Green Bay who's being tracked by a hitman from L.A. Much hilarity and parody of Northwoods life ensues.

On Saturday I got together with a couple of guys from my youth small group and watched The Day After Tomorrow projected on a big screen at church and ate pizza. We also tossed the aerobie in the parking lot where we managed to get it stuck on the roof and in two separate trees. Fortunately we were able to get it down all three times. It is truly the world's most easily overthrown object. Afterwards Steve and I got in a game of disc golf, good for me but bad for him, before going to Jason and Bonnie's for games. We got to play Carcassonne, Boggle, and Speed Scrabble before going home and watching Tombstone. In a rare reversal I went to bed almost an hour before he did.

Sunday we heard a sermon from John M. on Jonah 2 and God's response in crises. After church we went out to Wildberry with friends including Becca and Matt who were up for the weekend from Champaign. Becca used to work with the youth group and hosted my LIFEgroup for a year or so. Later that night I joined some folks from church and we watched the Bears shellac the Seahawks. With the Colts winning earlier both my teams are undefeated.

Verse of the day:
"My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One." 1 John 2:1 (NIV)

Quote of the Day:
"That's a good question."
"I know. I asked it."
-interchange among a couple of coworkers on Friday.

Friday, September 29, 2006


Looks like it won't be four days after all. Everybody can breathe now. Have a great weekend.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Verse and Quote of the Day

Okay. Blogger's officially a punk. I started a post this morning and realized that I wasn't going to have enough time to finish. I tried to save it as a draft so as to edit later. Often when I try to post or save something I get a dialog that "The document contains no data." Sometimes after I okay that message I see that it did whatever I was wanting it to anyway. Nevertheless, I always check to make sure it did it. It appeared to have saved the draft (probably because today's post title is the same as yesterday's, mayhaps the punkitude is not all Blogger's) but didn't. So I'm reposting. If anyone knows anything about that dialog box, let me know so I don't have to explore Help or Google it.

Verse of the Day:
"All your works shall give thanks to you, O LORD,
and all your saints shall bless you!
They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom
and tell of your power,
to make known to the children of man your mighty deeds,
and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
and your dominion endures throughout all generations." Psalm 145:10-13a (ESV)
I chose this verse in honor of Ann's comments to my 9/19 post.

Quote of the day:
"'I don't think, Mr. Frodo, that he's done much writing while we've been away. He won't ever write our story now.'
At that Bilbo opened an eye, almost as if he had heard. Then he roused himself. 'You see, I am getting so sleepy,' he said. 'And when I have time to write, I only really like writing poetry. I wonder, Frodo my dear fellow, if you would very much mind tidying things up a bit before you go? Collect all my notes and papers, and my diary too, and take them with you, if you will. You see, I haven't much time for the selection and arrangement and all that. Get Sam to help, and when you've knocked things into shape, come back, and I'll run over it. I won't be too critical.'" J.R.R. Tolkien The Return of the King

I've been meaning to post about this passage since sometime in the summer when I was listening to The Lord of the Rings on CD. I was reminded of it, and another which will be another post, when I listened to the BBC Dramatized Adaptation of LotR on my trip to Tennessee over Labor Day. I find this one of the most poignant passages, among many, in the Return of the King. The Hobbits are on their way home from the quest and spend some time in Rivendell visiting Bilbo. There they discover just what Sam observes and Bilbo confirms, despite all his plans and work the old Hobbit just can't put the material together. He doesn't have the energy. I don't know when this scene was written but I believe the whole of the LotR was complete by 1948 though it took another 6 years to get published. What I find touching is that this is almost a description of what would be the case for Tolkien himself. He spent his whole life working on the Silmarillion but never completed it and had to leave it to his son to collect and edit his notes into something coherent and publishable. There were people who came and spent time with him trying to help him get the notes together but his life's work was never completed. He had already seen some of this, if his story "Leaf by Niggle," written around 1938, is any indication. But there's something in Frodo and Sam's farewell scene with Bilbo that makes it clearer and sadder, as if Tolkien says, "This will be me."

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Verse and Quote of the Day

Two in a row. Will there be a third? Stay tuned.

I'm glad Cora is doing okay. We had a good time at 3-D last night discussing Jesus as the Lion and the Lamb. If I never mentioned it we're doing a series called A.K.A. God. It's a study of what we can learn about God based on the various names and descriptions He uses in scripture. Last night's study was based on Revelation 5.

Verse of the Day:
"You open your hand;
you satisfy the desire of every living thing.
The LORD is righteous in all his ways
and kind in all his works.
The LORD is near to all who call on him,
to all who call on him in truth." Psalm 145:16-18 (ESV)

Quote of the Day:
"God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him." John Piper
That statement is at the heart of what Piper likes to call Christian Hedonism and is unpacked in his book Desiring God and its successors. It's been on my mind the last couple of weeks relative to my post about the weekend of the 16th and the ensuing comments. I was was supposed to go to a conference at Piper's church in Minneapolis this weekend but it sold out before I attempted to register. Instead I'll be hanging out with friends and watching a movie with the guys from my 3-D small group.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

If It's Only Once a Week One Day's as Good as Any Other

Tuesday, Thursday, Eighthday, what's the difference? There's nothing going on there besides the usual foolishness. Gotta get the clutch replaced on my car which is definitely not cool. I like the independence that comes with a functioning car. I don't like having to bum rides whenever I need to get somewhere. It was only 11 years ago that that was my daily modus operandi but I'm way out of practice and I don't have a bike anymore. That takes care of my whining. I still got to have a typically fun and involved weekend. Saturday I went with my friend John to a local park where we walked around a lake and talked about what was going on in our lives and spent a good time praying about God's direction for our future. After prayer we went and saw the movie Flyboys. This was a good movie about Americans flying for the French before the U.S. joined in World War I with alot of good aerial combat action. John and I ate out at On the Border afterwards. It was nice to get to spend a with John as he is a good and godly man I admire. Later I joined Steve and his friend Stephanie in watching Jet Li's new movie Fearless. That was also an interesting movie with lots of martial arts action centered around a discussion of what the martial arts are for and why one should pursue them.
Sunday morning we heard a good sermon on God's pursuing love demonstrated in Jonah 1 delivered by our assistant pastor John. After church we had the first meeting of our Sunday morning prayer ministry team in over three years. We discussed why we have the ministry and how it relates to overall life of the church and how we could encourage more people in the church to participate by praying or receiving prayer. It was a good time. I also caught the end of the Bears-Vikings game which ended quite satisfactorily. The Bears are looking like a more complete team than they have in a long time. Sunday evening was spent at a potluck going away party for a co-worker who is moving to San Antonio. We had a good time but we'll miss Jacqui.

Last night we started a Bible study on I John with my LIFEgroup. We studied 1:1-4 and talked about fellowship and evangelism before spending some good prayer time.

Verse of the day:
"As a door turns on its hinges,
so does a sluggard on his bed." Prov. 26:14 (ESV)
I know I can be too hard on myself, but there too many mornings where that is an apt description.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Not Just For Thursdays After All

Quick update from the weekend.

Friday night we had our church's monthly prayer power time. This used to be a 24 hour deal but over the summer had been reduced to 3. It was encouraging this week as we had three of the junior high youth show up to pray for the church and community. After prayer I met my roommate at a local theatre to watch The Illusionist. It was a good movie.

Saturday morning we got together with 14 students from the junior and senior groups and six leaders and went to Promised Land, a paintball course in Wisconsin, where we spent much of the day shooting at kids and adults from other youth groups. I once named a character in a shooter videogame Corpse. That's probably an appropriate paintball nickname for myself as well. There were two games that were over in less than 5 minutes but I was dead in both of them before 2. On the other hand I did survive our day's version of Little Round Top helping hold our teams position at the top in a king of the hill game under heavy fire for nearly 6 minutes. Also, unlike my last paintball outing, I'm pretty sure I killed at least two of the enemy and none of my own team. After paintball I joined some friends disc golfing down in Palatine by the reservoir. We had fun but only got to play about half the course before it got dark because we spent so long searching in the weeds for one of my errant discs. We never found it. After that it was over to the Newberry gang's for Guesstures, ice cream, conversation, and Scattergories, and then home around 1:30 where watched Ocean's 12 before straggling into bed.

Sunday morning had a good sermon from John Stephenson on a spiritual checkup based on the promise of the New Covenant in Hebrews 8. I know he was struggling to get that sermon together but God used it in several people's lives and in accordance with my own message to the youth last week to convict me of trying live out of my own righteousness and win His approval instead of trusting in His love and living for the joy He gives. I spent a long time in prayer with a friend afterward and felt God's healing. After church we had a youth leader's meeting. Then Dianne and I caught a quick game at the Mundelein disc golf course ("Small and poorly designed" according to the Pro Disc Golf Association website, well assessed) in a rain shower. It was fun. Later I met with a family in the church that is selling a product called Reliv. Reliv is a nutrition product that's really had some great results for them and other people. It sounds worth checking out.

Last night we had our men's group prayer night for my LIFE group. We had a good time. Mostly we hung out and talked before Steve led us in worship and we went into a prayer time. It was good.

Verses of the Last Week
"For cross to the coasts of Cyprus and see,
or send to Kedar and examine with care;
see if there has been such a thing.
Has a nation changed its gods,
even though they are no gods?
But my people have changed their glory
for that which does not profit.
Be appalled, O heavens, at this;
be shocked, be utterly desolate,
declares the LORD,
for my people have committed two evils:
they have forsaken me,
the fountain of living waters,
and hewed out cisterns for themselves,
broken cisterns that can hold no water." Jeremiah 2:10-13 (ESV)

"These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full." John 15:11 (ESV)

"I bless the LORD who gives me counsel;
in the night also my heart instructs me.
I have set the LORD always before me;
because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.

Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices;
my flesh also dwells secure.
For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol,
or let your holy one see corruption.

You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore." Psalm 16:7-11 (ESV)

Friday, September 15, 2006

Curry Surprise

I was sitting in my office innocently minding my own business trying to resolve series vs. set issues on a book I was cataloging when I began to notice a strange aroma wafting in from the break area. I puzzled over the smell and whether it was a good food smell or the bad smell of something else when one of co-workers came to my door and mentioned she had made curry and was offering to anybody who wanted some. Apparently she had made it for an international potluck that turned out to be a catered meal. It was a yellow curry with peaches, chicken, and rice. It was pretty good stuff and I don't like peaches. As almost everyone who tried some noted it was especially good on a Friday. On Friday morning we have a staff break at 10 a.m. Someone brings food each week (I usually bring Einstein Bros.' bagels) and we hang out and eat for about 1/2 an hour. This week we had two breaks, the one at 10 which was pretty good strawberry bread and a sausage and egg dish kind of like a quiche and then the curry break at noon. It was a good day.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Thursdays for Blogging

I seem to have gone from having one day a week that I couldn't (wouldn't) blog to having one day a week I would blog. I'd like to work my way back to the Monday nonblogging instead of the Thursday blogging. We'll see. September's just starting and already my end of the month plans have blown up. I tried to register for the Desiring God Conference that I was hoping to attend and have discovered it has sold out. So much for a conference at the end of the month. Last night I learned that my early October plans have been derailed by homework. I'm suddenly a little freer than I expected. This does open the door for my Coen brothers movie marathon to take place the first weekend of October. I might also take the money I had planned on using for Minnesota and instead do a personal weekend retreat here, maybe at St. Mary's of the Lake, where I went in December 2 years ago. Anyway for those who are curious I had a great weekend. I enjoyed my drive down to Nashville, Chattanooga, Georgetown, and back. I took a different route to Nashville, going down I-57 and 24 through Illinois and Western Kentucky. That was a fun chance to see more of Illinois and WKy than I had before and also to see what it would be like to drive to Champaign in case I end up in school at the UofI. It was also a good trip because I got to spend it listening to The Silmarillion and finally to hear the BBC dramatized production of The Lord of the Rings. That's some good listening.
I spent Friday night with Ann and Daniel. They made biryani and cicero chutney and later Ann made rice pudding for dessert. We watched Elizabethtown, which Daniel and I enjoyed. Ann made pancakes on Saturday morning. I don't what it is about the way she makes them but Ann's pancakes really are my favorite pancakes. I'd still rather have French toast or a waffle, but if I've got to have pancakes, I'd like them to be Ann's.
Saturday I drove to Chattanooga and met Geron and Lydia's friends Holly and Jeff and their son Brian as they came out the door to go home. I also met Cora Sophia, who is as fine a baby as I'd want to meet. I had a lot of fun holding Cora and watching tv with Lydia and Geron. Thanks y'all for letting me visit and play with your baby.
Sunday we took Cora to church for the first time. That was a lot of fun. It was also touching as Geron delivered the children's sermon and talked about the love of God the Father for His children. I thought it was especially neat when Geron talked about how he even liked it when Cora cried, because she was his and he loved her, and paralleled that to God's feelings for us. We had a lazy day of napping and watching tv, and a good lunch provided by some folks from the church.
Monday I slept in a little and watched some of the MTV Video Music Awards with Geron, and held Cora some more. I love my niece. On the way home I stopped by McKay's used book store for a few minutes and then drove to Georgetown. Between the bookstore and construction traffic I got there later than I planned. Mom and Dad made macaroni salad, another of my favorite foods when made like mom makes it. We sat around and talked and watched tv. Tuesday I drove back to Illinois. After that it's been a pretty normal week.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Balance, Travel, and Blogging

I don't know if "balance" is actually the right word there, but it's the one I like to use for the concept. I tend to develop certain routines like everybody else, I suppose. When I can follow my routines, when I can get in the groove, I like how I function. When something happens that messes up the routine it tends to mess up my functioning in all kinds of areas. Sometimes this is not true and I'm able to take a minor disruption in stride. More often it is true. It's very often true if travel is involved. When I go somewhere else it messes me up in some ways. I get away from what I'm used to doing. I usually see this in the areas that are most dependent on habit formation. Most of my good habits seem to be pretty fragile. The bad ones don't seem to require the same amount of care. When I'm not in the office regularly because of travel or meetings it really kills my productivity. This is also true of breaks as my Florida teammates can attest. I want to work uninteruptedly. Lunch is okay but more than that breaks the rhythm I don't get as much done. Breaks are also very annoying in classes as they feel like wasted time to me. Anyway, I've been moving around a little more than usual this summer and it's taking a toll. I'll be gone again this weekend. Tomorrow I go down to Nashville to visit Ann and Daniel for a night. Saturday it's on to Chattanooga to see Lydia and Geron and meet Cora. Monday it's up to Georgetown for mom and dad, and Tuesday's back here. Then I'll have most of a month to get settled and reestablish some routines, including blogging, before I head up to Minnesota for a conference and then welcome a friend from out of town for a weekend. Anyway I hope all readers have a fun Labor Day weekend. God bless y'all

Friday, August 25, 2006

It's About Time

that I blogged again. For the most part we had a good time in Florida. We worked hard starting Monday morning and put in an eleven hour Friday. Over the summer we cataloged over 4000 books for the Florida campus and almost 2000 of them were last week. We ate well for supper all week, taking in Olive Garden, Cheesecake Factory, On the Border, Angelo's Pizza (New York style on the beach in Hollywood), Chili's, Longhorn Steakhouse, and The Mutineer Seafood Restaurant. The last was a bit of a disappointment. We stopped there for supper in Homestead on Saturday night. The food was good enough and our water was a cute old Italian guy but the prices were too high and the decor was alright if you didn't look close enough to notice the chipped table, the thumb tacked wallpaper, or the rainwater dripping through the ceiling and running down the wall. The lighting was pretty dim so those things might have been easy to miss. We had a good time working and living together for the week. Saturday we headed south to the Everglades. We went to the visitor's center at the eastern entrance of Everglades National Park. We didn't really want to the pay the admission to the rest of the park and it looked like a big thunderstorm was coming so we turned back and had lunch at Wendy's in Homestead. After lunch we decided to head south into the keys. We visited the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park on Key Largo, where we walked through a mangrove swamp. From there we continued south until we reached Layton, about 70 miles from Key West. We turned back there and visited Anne's Beach on Lower Metacumbe Key. A couple of us waded in the ocean while the others looked for shells or hung out on the boardwalk. The water was very clear. Aside from all the work the main drawback to our trip was the burglary on Friday night. While we were having steak celebrating our accomplishment and a birthday somebody got into our locked mini-van through the loose back window and stole a laptop and my backpack. There wasn't much in the backpack but cough medicine, apartment and car keys, a couple of notebooks, a Bible, a Trinity library book, and my checkbook, so I didn't lose much monetarily but the notebooks and Bible had a lot of personal value. Trinity has offered to replace both the laptop and the backpack, so that's cool, but it was a bad night and a tough loss.

Quote of the week:
"Flush it like you mean it!" MH to CP re: the lever needing to be held down for a full flush and just before the flush lever came off in C's hand.

Honorable mention:
"Well it would be a different variation on the theme of ugly." RH re: a suggested change to the decor at The Mutineer

"Well, he's a reference librarian, and that's a lot to overcome." An anonymous cataloger regarding an equally anonymous colleague re: the colleague's willingness to help catalog things.

In other news, I have a beautiful niece. See here for yourself:

Sorry it's took so long to get an update on here. Maybe they'll come faster in the future even as they once did in the past.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Veni, Vidi, Catalogi

5 days, 5 catalogers (library staff anyway, close enough), 2000 books. We win. Today the library, tomorrow the beach. Much celebrating tonight. Literacy returning soon.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Telegram for blog readers

In Florida. Working. Lots of books. Having fun. Blog when return. Love you all. Everett

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Pretty Much Back

Well I'm pretty much back from last weekend. We had a great time on our retreat. We left Friday morning with 4 boys, 7 girls, Nathan, Eric M., Dianne, and myself. We drove up to Baraboo, Wisconsin on Friday and had lunch at Culver's before connecting with our guides from Expeditions Unlimited ( With them we drove over to Devil's Lake State Park and hiked up into the hills for our rock climbing. Devil's Lake is a really pretty area and a great place to climb. The EU staff had set up four climbs for us. I tried the easiest and gave up about half way. Mostly I spent my time encouraging the kids while they climbed. They seemed to really enjoy it. It turned out that David and Matt were real rock monkeys who could fly up some of the climbs. From there we went back to the EU campground for supper and worship. Eric was our special guest speaker for the weekend focusing on Colossians 1:15-22 and Nathan led worship. After our worship time we played a fun game of Ghosts-in-the-graveyard out in the field before going to sleep in our tents.

Saturday morning after breakfast and more worship we did a low ropes challenge course with the kids. They did a good job of working together and cooperating while trying to balance all 11 on a big teeter-totter, swing across a pit, and climb a wall. It was too bad we didn't have more time for that but we had to get on the river. We got on the Wisconsin River around 2:30 just outside Arena, Wisconsin, and paddled downstream for about 6-7 miles before coming to rest on a sandbar. The EU staff set up the camp, including our "pooper," a milk crate with a hole cut on the top with a toilet seat set on it over a hole in the sand and surrounded by tarps. While they worked we played in the river and threw the frisbee around. After supper we played a fun game of ultimate frisbee in the sand and then had a fantastic worship time and made smores around the campfire. It was neat watching the kids worship and press Nathan for more after the first few songs he'd planned were done, especially when they requested "In Christ Alone" which is a long song with a lot of words. They were really into it. The weather that night was partly cloudy with a bright moon so most of the kids elected to sleep on tarps outside instead of in the tents. At about 4:30 a.m. Nathan woke me up in the tent and asked me to move over so kids could come in since it had started raining. We had a thunderstorm for a few hours then.

Sunday morning we got up and huddled under the EZ-Up for breakfast while the rain continued to pour around us. We struck camp and got back on the river around 9:30. We paddled downstream in the rain for about an hour. Just before we reached our destination it stopped raining, naturally. We eventually got back on the road and headed home around 1:00. Dianne and I road together in the car on the way back while everybody else was in the van. We took a wrong turn near Madison and got to take a more scenic route home through Lake Geneva and Antioch than the van crowd who were stuck on the Interstate. It was a good time.

Sunday night I joined a big group of friends at Ravinia for a concert by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Yo Yo Ma. It was a beautiful night back in Chicago-land and there was some good music. The concert consisted of two movements from The Three-Cornered Hat, Azul by Osvaldo Golijov, and Ravel's Bolero. I walked up to the pavillion and watched the last few minutes of Azul. It was a very interesting modern piece especially as it has a very gradual and quiet denoument and many people on the lawn kept trying to applaud when the piece wasn't quite over yet. Anyway, good music and a good time hanging out with friends while we waited for the crowd to disperse after the concert.

The rest of the week has been an effort to get some rest before our Youth Ministry Leaders Retreat this weekend and my trip to Miami next week. I've had a cough for a couple of weeks now that I'm trying to buck. It wasn't helped by a weekend with no cough medicine and canoing in the rain. At work we're pushing to get done with the books that were sent up here from the Florida campus for cataloging. We really want to be done with that project when we leave there next week. LifeGroup was good as Aaron led us in a study of Jonah and 3-D parents' night was a lot of fun on Tuesday, especially the reenactment of the story of Ehud from Judges 3. Last night was a fun and overfilling time at B.D.'s Mongolian Barbeque with Cindee followed a by waste of time watching America's Got Talent and a pleasant phone conversation. Tonight we'll have a pizza and hangout time with our college group to celebrate the end of the summer as they prepare to head back to school for the fall and we start to gear up for the students coming back to Trinity and Lake Forest.

So that's been my week.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Verse of the Day and Gone for the Weekend

"When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion,
we were like those who dream.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
and our tongue with shouts of joy;
then they said among the nations,
"The LORD has done great things for them."
The LORD has done great things for us;
we are glad." Psalm 126:1-3

I remember sitting on the floor of a rented building in Toronto the weekend before Thanksgiving, 1994 and reading this passage while all around me people laughed in Spirit. Some friends and I had come to Toronto to see the revival that was going on, called the Toronto Blessing, at the Airport Vineyard. It was my first experience with the Vineyard and it remains one of only three Vineyards I've visited besides my church in Libertyville. It was an amazing thing to hear the testimonies of how God had touched people there in Toronto and be a part of it for a little while. At the time I focused on verse 2 and the laughter and shouts of joy. Now I think a little more about verse three. God has done great things for me and I am glad.

I'll be leaving Friday morning to go with the Jr. High kids up to central Wisconsin where we'll be canoing, camping and rock climbing for the weekend. Please pray that we have a fun and safe time and that we leaders can minister to the kids. We'll get back Sunday afternoon and I should have just enough time to get cleaned and head down to Highland Park to hear Yo Yo Ma at Ravinia. I hope you all have a good time this weekend.

Mormons and Two Quotes I like

The Mormons came back last night. We talked for about an hour and a half about the Book of Mormon and truth and how the Holy Spirit reveals truth. They're coming back in three weeks. Actually one isn't as he's finished his mission and is heading home to Utah. It was an interesting conversation that bears some real thinking about.

Bearing no relation to that whatsoever are two movie quotes. I was thinking about this a little last Saturday after Steve and I watched Dune. What are my favorite quotes or scenes from each of the movies I own? So I might start posting random quotes and observations from movies.

From David Lynch's Dune:
As the Fremen are about to launch an assault on the combined Imperial and Harkonnen forces.
"Stilgar, do we have worm sign?" Paul "Usul" Atreides
"Usul, we have worm sign the likes of which God himself has never seen!" Stilgar

From Miller's Crossing:
"Tommy, wake up." bartender
"I am awake." Tom Regan
"Your eyes are shut." bartender
"Who you gonna' believe." Tom

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Verse of the day

"Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion,
which cannot be moved, but abides forever." Psalm 125:1 (ESV)

I have a friend who received this verse at his baptism. While he was in seminary he had the phrase "KI-HAR ZION" in Hebrew tattooed on his back (means "like Mount Zion"). One day while he was working out at a nearby health club somebody saw him and the strange writing on his back and decided he looked suspicious. My friend is partly of Lebanese descent and could possibly be mistaken for an Arab if you didn't look too closely. The suspicious person reported him to the F.B.I. as a possible terrorist threat. They came to investigate one day while he wasn't at the club. Fortunately the person at the desk knew who they were looking for and she set the F.B.I. straight. Not a terrorist, just a friendly seminary student with Hebrew on his back.
I think it's a good aspiration to so trust in the Lord as to never be moved.

Bye Bye Greg, 23 Jet Ski Do and Didjeridude

Herewith is the promised post about the weekend.

Friday night we said goodbye to our friend Greg. Greg was an Illinois State student who started coming to the Vineyard last summer. He started out with the college group but quickly migrated to our 20something group. Greg is an outgoing and friendly guy who was doing a medical technician internship at a nearby hospital and finishing his degree. He pushed us to plan events in advance and often had us over at his parents' house for fun activities. It was Greg's family that introduced us to the brilliant idea of watching a fireworks show with 3-D glasses. Greg's a good guy with a gift for hospitality and empathy who has now moved to Maryland to work in the blood lab at the Johns Hopkins University Medical Center. We'll really miss him but look forward to seeing him when he comes back to visit his parents. We had a good time at his party eating some great food, playing Mario Cart, Dr. Mario, and Goldeneye, as well non-video games like speed scrabble, darts, and foosball. We also had a good time praying for Greg to send him off.

Saturday we got together with various college students and headed up to Steve's family's cottage on a little lake in southern Wisconsin. I grilled burgers and hot dogs for us (I'd post the recipe to the ROUS blog but it's just "Put burger on the grill, flip until it's cooked, eat it.) that turned out okay. After lunch we headed to the beach. Steve and T.J. took the cars back and brought over the jet ski while Paul and I brought over the canoe. Paul and I should not be allowed in small watercraft together. We're big guys. We flipped the canoe in about 2 minutes. Admittedly it worked much better when we sat in the bottom of the canoe instead of on the seats but it's still a risky venture. Once we all made it to the beach we just hung out and had fun while people took turns riding the jet ski and canoeing. We played some frisbee in the water with a kid and his dog. The dog was an impressive swimmer. Sam built a pretty cool sand castle out of sand, mud, rocks, and an old mousetrap I found on the bottom of the lake that made a good drawbridge. Paul and tried to ride the jet ski together but nearly swamped it. We decided to go it alone so Paul got off and in the process I lost balance and fell off to one side, cutting my leg in the process. After that I got back on and did a few laps around the lake. It was a lot of fun. Paul later went jet skiing with Andrew. They both wiped out at one point and another time Andrew threw Paul off during a turn. It was pretty funny. Afterwards we went to Pizza Hut for supper and then Steve and I went home and watched David Lynch's Dune. Remember to "walk without rhythm so you don't attract the worm."

Sunday we heard a sermon from Matt on Simon the Sorcerer from Acts 8. After church Steve and I went to the Bristol Renaissance Fair. It's a bit expensive but we had a good time. We considered buying swords but were driven off by the prices. We saw a fight between Robin Hood and a scurvy gang of pirates in cahoots with the High Sheriff of Bristol. We also saw a 20 minute one man version of Shakespeare's Scottish Play, Dirk and Guido the Swordsmen, and the Bard O'Malley. One of Steve's highlights was watching the falconer show his birds. Steve likes falcons. We also stopped by a shop selling didjeridoos and drums. I now own a didjeridoo. I've wanted one for a while and broke down finally and bought one. An important part of the fair is the food so I got a portabella banger which is a sausage stuffed with cheese and mushrooms and a pork chop on a stick. The latter was disappointing. It was a good pork chop but didn't really work on a stick. After the fair was over we went to Jason and Bonnies to play some pit and to allow me to lose another game of Settlers. I'm getting lamentably good at that.

Fun weekend. Very tiring.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Verse of the Day

"Though the fig tree should not blossom,
nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
and there be no herd in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the LORD;
I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
GOD, the Lord, is my strength;
he makes my feet like the deer's;
he makes me tread on my high places." Habakkuk 3:17-19 (ESV)

I first discovered this passage my junior year of college. I was going through a study on prayers in the Bible and Habakkuk 3 was one of the prayers. I was amazed by the power and splendor of God in Habakkuk's vision and by the place Habakkuk was in after the vision. The book of Habakkuk begins with H's complaint about evil and injustice in Judah. God responds that justice will come when He brings the Babylonians to punish the wicked Judeans. H. complains that the Babylonians are even worse than the wicked people they'll punish so how can that be just. God promises punishment for the Babylonians as well. Then H. receives his vision of the coming of God to deliver His people and judge the earth. H. responds by affirming his faith in God no matter what external circumstances appear. H. will rejoice and worship, come what may. God is his strength and salvation.

If I get motivated I'll post about my fun weekend tonight.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Verse of the Day

"I lift up my eyes to the hills
from where does my help come from?
My help comes from the LORD,
who made heaven and earth." Psalm 121:1-2 (ESV)

This has long been one of my absolute favorite psalms. Partly I think this comes from growing up in Kentucky where there are hills to lift my eyes to. I think it is also because of the image of the fullness of the Lord's protection. This psalm is the second of the Psalms of Ascent that the people would sing as they went up to Jerusalem for the various festivals. The opening verses could be interpreted as the pilgrim looking ahead to the hills leading up to Jerusalem and anticipating coming into the presence of the Lord at the temple. A more likely interpretation is that they are looking at the hills and mountains around them, hills on top of which are "high places" where pagan gods are worshiped and rejecting them for the worship of Israel's God. I've heard a number of settings of this psalm over the years. We sang one antiphonally as a response to readings my senior year in the Cantorei. On his album "The Way of Wisdom", Michael Card has a setting of the first four verses in Hebrew and English. Eden's Bridge has a nice one on their "Celtic Psalms" album. My favorite version though is by the Chicago Christian Celtic/Folk group The Crossing on their album "Dochas". The song is simply named "Psalm" and is inspired by Psalm 121.

I lift up my eyes and I look to the mountains
And see by their shadow I'm nothing at all.
The hills tower over me black and forbidding;
The tangles of forest bid me come and fall.

No light may enter those caves, a great fortress,
Their darkness defended by cavern and wall.
A torrent, a flood, crashes over the rocks and
The thundering falls drown a voice still and small.

Listen my child for I made these great mountains,
The sky far above you, the rocks and the falls,
The tangles of forest, the caves and the crags
And whatever dwells in them; my hand formed them all.

The shadows are emptied of threat for I'm in them
As I am in you when you follow my call.
So lift up your eyes and look over the mountains
And walk in my shadow; I'll not let you fall.

Listen my child for I made these great mountains,
The sky far above you, the rocks and the falls,
The tangles of forest, the caves and the crags
And whatever dwells in them; my hand formed them all.
--words and music by Jennifer Ingerson and Duncan Johnstone

When I was a security guard I used to sing that on rounds at Hewitt on overnight shifts. I'm a little scared of the dark and I found it very comforting.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Vacational Verse of the Last Week

"You are good and do good.
Teach me your statutes." Psalm 119:68

One of the highlights I forgot to mention was that I started Psalm 119 Tuesday morning. Reading 24 verses a day, 32 on one, it takes almost a week to read. Therefore for most of my vacation I was hearing about the goodness of God's word. That's a good thing to hear, sweeter than honey on a dosa. It's an acrostic psalm of 22 stanzas of 8 verses each. Each verse of a stanza starts with the same Hebrew letter. For instance my verse of the day is from the Teth stanza and starts with the Hebrew word "tov," "good." Something I enjoy doing when I read this psalm is to try to guess which English word translates the Hebrew word that started the verse. Obviously it helps that I've studied Hebrew but I think someone who hasn't could do it some. When you read a stanza look for recurring English words. This works better for some letters than others. For instance in the Teth stanza, vv. 64-71, the word "good" or "better" predominates because there aren't many words in Hebrew that start with teth. It's harder for Aleph or Pe but when you're reading the psalm someday give it a shot. It might be fun. Even if you don't try to guess the words, try to enjoy the interplay of the different words for God's law and the psalmist's delight in them. Sweeter than honey and better than thousands of gold and silver.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

What I did on my Summer Vacation

Hopefully this entry won't create the same social upheaval as Two Flower's book of the same name. I don't want to topple empires or play into the hands of a despotic maniac. So this will be pretty simple, maybe a highlight from each day. Since the major details have been covered by Mom and Ann the outline of the vacation has already been sketched.
Friday, 7/14. I already blogged about Friday. I do want to note The Lost Dogs again. I had just gotten their album "The Nazarene Crying Towel" and it's a good one. They were once a cool band of 4 friends each from different Christian bands who came together to make folk rock/country music together. One died tragically in 1999. As they sing on their album "Real Men Cry" released after his death, "He's a three legged dog but he's still pretty good." The three legged band (technically six, I suppose) still put out some good stuff.
Saturday, 7/15. I had a good time riding down to Nashville with Mom and Daddy.
Sunday, 7/16. I enjoyed our time at the Northgate Vineyard. It was a nice service and good to hear the pastor's determination to follow what he feels God is leading him to in planting the church there in Hendersonville. It helped me picture a little of what my church must have been like 6 years before I came when there were just a few people gathered in the faculty lounge at Mundelein High School. It was also good to pray for someone's healing and annoint them. I started Girl Meets God by Lauren Winner this afternoon. It was good to read after seeing her at ATLA. Too bad she's married.
Monday, 7/17. Mmmm. Cabbage curry and chapatis. They might not ought to be an art, but they sure were good. Ann and Daniel fed us well all week. As I recall this was also my first Chick-Fil-A experience. The chicken strips were okay but not thrilling. If I ever go again I'll try a sandwich.
Tuesday, 7/18. I think I liked best the Chineses acrobats at the Opryland Hotel. They were pretty amazing. The water show was nice also.
Wednesday, 7/19. We got to search for lamb across Madison and Hendersonville. No luck. We did also get to go to a nice little used bookstore in H'ville, Ms. B's. I didn't buy anything but there was some good stuff. It had one of the best philosophy sections of a store that size that I've seen. Also, Mom picked me up a copy of Artemis Fowl. We had Daddy's goulash. That's some good eatin'.
Thursday, 7/20. The highlight was definitely the Marty Stuart show at the Ryman. I'm not gonna be dissin' the Moong Dal and rice, tasty and filling. Nor am I down on Dosas with coconut chutney, not bad once you accept the coconut won't be sweet like in a mounds bar. I won't scoff at the art in the Parthenon, even if the replica chryselephantine Athena was kind of tacky the painting downstairs were nice. Jack-in-the-Box had a good patty melt and the Nugent girl who opened for Marty had some nice stuff. But it was Marty all the way with his mandolin pickin', bluesgrass, discograss, Rolling bluegrass Stone covering ways. That was a fun show. That Stubbs fella can fiddle, Cushman can banj, Cousin Kenny can pick some great bluesgrass guitar, and Leroy Troy can spin a banjo and a funny song with equal ease. The highlight of the show for me I think was listening to Marty and Kenny imitate dueling bluesmen on a couple of pieces. Maybe it was the gospel stuff. Maybe it was the 6 song encore set with Stubbs, Cushman, and Marty pickin' and fiddlin' in a huddle. I felt sorry for the banjo player that was playing with the band most of the night. He seemed to be outside all the fun. It was a good show.
Friday, 7/21. Good French Toast and fairwell to Dan and Anniel. Actually Daniel was gone when I woke up so he didn't get fairedwell. Hey Howdy to Lydia and Geron. I think today's highlight fell somewhere in between Geron's good grilled food, losing two games of Settlers of Cataan (I should probably rethink my strategy for playing with Sip and Geron, 4 games this trip, goose egg wins for me), and starting Artemis Fowl. That was a fun book
Saturday, 7/22. If we consider the Settlers games and Artemis holdovers from the day before, today's highlight was eating supper at Ichiban and having dinner cooked in front of me. Steak, chicken, and fried rice. There's virtually no way to go wrong with that, assuming you can cook. Add in some exciting Japanese cookery and good company and you've a got a meal. I'd eat there again. Breakfast at Lillie Mae's was also not to be sneezed at. Nobody should sneeze at a good slab of country ham. I can't get it here so it's always an important culinary part of going home.
Sunday, 7/23. The highlight might have been sleeping in a bed after a week of air matresses or the nice service at Sip and Geron's church but I think it was lunch with Lydia, Geron, Mom, Dad, Ann, and Daniel. Geron says his barbecue wasn't very good so I've got to get back down there sometime when he's on his game. Pity they'll probably be too busy for barbecuin' the next time I'm down. McKay's bookstore was also not without it's charms in a bludgeoning kind of way. That many used books puts me in a state of euphoria that makes it hard to register much. I did grab a copy of Good Omens by Pratchett (source of the opening allusion) and Gaiman. This way Jenn will know her nagging, though it seemeth barren, some fruit hath born. Unfortunately said fruit was born into a long q, what with the Winners, Fowls, Dekker Circles, and all else begging to be read. As I mentioned a week earlier in this post I like riding with Mom and Dad and we had a good trip home.
Monday, 7/24. The vacational highlight here was listening to about half of The Hobbit on cd as I made good time back to the land of Lincoln and not getting caught in any traffic jams except for the inevitable 80-94 bottle neck. Even that was only merely slow for about 10 minutes, or Thorin and company getting chased up trees by the Wargs. The real highlight of today was probably LifeGroup but since that was post vacational it'll get mentioned later.

As a final point I'll note that nobody submitted a potential post so we'll go back to our regular randomly scheduled mixture of long winded, abrupt, and Monday sabbatarian.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Vacational Blog

Nashville. Ann and Daniel. Homemade Indian food. mmm....biryani. Naps. Memoirs. Deflating air mattresses. Parthenon. Little Vineyard church. Worship. Good trip so far.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Driving South and Psalm of the Day

In keeping with traditional vacation departure patterns I planned to leave the apartment yesterday at 7:30 a.m. I got out at about 9. Fortunately by the time I got to work the Friday morning break had started and there were Krispy Kremes eagerly awaiting my teeth. I rocketed off from Trinity at about a quarter to 2 cdt and got in to Georgetown at about 20 to 11 edt. In between I got to see lots of rigs, smell some fresh northern Indiana manure, see a beautiful sunset through my rearview mirror, listen to Dallas Willard read his book about spiritual formation, and listen to my new Lost Dogs cd. It was a pretty good trip. Today we will continue in my southward journey by heading to Nashville to visit Ann and Daniel. There will be much fun had even if I have to drive a Ford to get there. As you can imagine I may be a little more irregular in my blogging for the next few days. Perhaps you'll want to go back and reread all my previous posts for a fix. Or maybe you can imagine the posts I might otherwise have written. Email any hypothetical posts to me. If their up to our rigourous editorial standards, i.e. written with confused punctuation, extraneious parenthetical remarks, dubious spelling, and copious run-on sentences, we'll consider publishing them. Otherwise read some other blog or post to your own. Psalm of the Day:
Praise the LORD, all nations! Extol him, him all peoples! For great is his steadfast love toward us, and the faithfulness of the LORD endures forever. Praise the LORD!" Psalm 117 (ESV)

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Verse of the Day

"Whoever works his land
will have plenty of bread
but he who follows worthless
pursuits lacks sense." Proverbs 12:11 (ESV)

The Bible has a few things to say about following worthless pursuits and they almost always convict me. I waste a lot of time in my life doing stuff that if I could only see objectively I'd immediately know there were several things that I valued more highly. I'd like to be able to look at a day from the start as I'll see it from the end and evaluate things before I begin them as I would once they were complete. I'd like to think about something, "I'm pretty sure I'll enjoy doing it, but will I enjoy having done it?"

6 Dekaseconds=1 minute

I've got to title the post something and I was thinking about metric prefixes, prompted by the observation that my connection is 2kbps slower than usual. Nano and milli are about the only prefixes you come across in regard to seconds, and milli is pushing it.
I had the typical fun weekend. Just as Batista was about to return and call out Mark Henry on Smackdown Friday night, the Mormons visited them. I didn't want to miss the return of the Animal after a 6 month absence so I asked them to come back on Wednesday. Then I canceled that appointment. I've not gotten very far in my BoM reading so I figure I'll talk to them after vacation sometime. Steve and I watched Hoodwinked after he got home. It was pretty funny.
I spent Saturday sleeping in and working. In the outside bookdrop Friday morning were 40 or so books that were not checked out. A little investigation revealed that most of them had been gone from the library since 1999 or 2000. There was evidence that at least one may have been missing since at least '97. Someone's been studying the philosophy of David Hume for a long time. Many of the books had been declared lost and a few had even been replaced. Some, of course, nobody had ever noticed they were gone. I processed most of them Saturday afternoon and worked on some other books as well. Saturday night Steve and I watched the World Cup consolation game, Germany vs. Portugal. We saw 4 actual goals scored in game play. Germany won 3-1 though one of the German goals was scored by a Portuguese player. After the game I met up with some friends at a restaurant in Antioch and we caught a midnight showing of Raiders of the Lost Ark.
Sunday morning we heard John S. preach on Isaiah 53:4-6 and how Jesus takes the penalty for our sins. Ryan put together a brilliant set for the music after the sermon. We sang a beautiful song I'd never heard before during communion and then followed it with "How Deep the Father's Love for Us," probably my favorite contemporary hymn. The other songs also focused on God's goodness and grace and his mercy toward us. It was a really moving time and fit very well with the sermon. I need to email him and get the title and lyrics to the first song. We lunched at Panera and then played a great game of Settlers of Cataan which was only marred by Steve's victory. Steve, Steph, and I watched Superman Returns for $2 at the Libertyville theatre. The movie was okay but a little too slow for my taste. At times it almost felt like the actors were just going through the motions. Kevin Spacey is a great Lex Luther though. I watched the World Cup final that night while talking to Jenn over the phone. That was a fun way to watch the game. It was in Spanish and Jenn had about a 4 second delay, definitely an amusing experience.
Monday night was a good time at LifeGroup. There were 15 of us and almost as many women as men which has been a rarity for our group this year. We studied Genesis 1:26-31 and what it means to be in God's image. We talked particularly about our responsibility to care for the earth and to live in relationship with God and one another. We also looked at a few New Testament passages that focused on growing into the image of Christ. Jason led worship and almost everybody provided snacks. It was a good time.
Tuesday we had a good time at 3-D. Nathan taught about Jonah and the danger of caring more for yourself than other people. Jonah was so concerned with his hatred for the Ninevites and with his petty luxuries that he ignored the people God desired to save. Nathan challenged us not to focus so much on ourselves that we fail to share the good news of salvation with people around us. Afterward Steve and I saw Pirates of the Carribean: Dead Man's Chest. I really liked it. I think you could take the music from that movie and set it to anything and I would enjoy it. I was imagining briefly watching The Devil Wears Prada with the PotC soundtrack. I'm pretty sure I'd like it. I especially liked the use of Davey Jones' organ and the hornpipe in Tortuga in addition to the main theme. I'm much looking forward to the final installment of the story in May.
Work is challenging. As of last Wednesday I am the Senior Cataloging Technician and Head of Cataloging for the Rolfing Library. That means that a lot of decisions and problems that I could blithely pass on to Cindee or Matt in the past I am now responsible for. I liked just being able to focus on my books, DVD's and cd's and letting other people deal with questions about the future of the division or what the procedures had to be. I had input before and was usually involved in most decisions but I didn't have to make them. In addition I've had trouble focusing in work in the last year or two. I like soaking up new knowledge and ideas. I like reading blogs. I like playing computer games after lunch. I like researching and solving cataloging problems. It's been a huge struggle to focus on the actual work of cataloging. Now we're in the midst of a huge project to get our Florida Campus library cataloged and online. That's a great thing and it's getting us a trip to Florida next month, but there's a long way to go before we get there. I become Senior Tech because Cindee moved into a different position in the library. This means that we've lost much of her productivity as she starts learning and focusing on the systems position. She'll still be doing some cataloging but she won't be able to devote the kind of time and concentration that she used to. That also means that I'll be training a new cataloging tech. It takes a while to learn to catalog, to get the hand of all the rules and to be able to see not only what is in the record, but what should be there as well, and to learn to think about subject headings and how they are structured. There's a lot to learn and it's all seems fairly esoteric. The rule book has been compared to the Bible with a few other supplements like the Talmud. It can be very rewarding and it's nice to be able to see if the library has the book you want but it's a long road to get there. Anyway since there's all this pressure I'll be taking next week off to go to Tennessee. It'll be fun but it won't be fun to come back.
That's about all I've got to say about that.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Dear Old Buffo's and Chicago Pizza

When I was a first year seminary student back in the fall of 95 one of my co-workers in the library invited me to come to a group that met at a restaurant in Highwood, a little Hispanic/Italian community nestled between Lake Forest and Highland Park. The group was called Stammtisch, a German word for a table reserved for regular customers or a club table (or a "table of cronies" according to my German-English dictionary). The group was very loosely organized by one of the seminary professors and was devoted to sitting around and talking theology or philosophy or whatever, over pizza, beer, and clove cigarettes. I didn't like beer then and don't smoke, but the pizza was incredible. It was double decker; basically two thin crust pizzas laid one on top of the other with the crust rolled together at the back of the slice. To this day my favorite pizza is a double decker from Buffo's or from Bill's Pub in Mundelein. I really prefer Bill's because of the decor and ambiance but Buffo's is nice for the memories of eating there every Thursday for about two years. Eventually the Stammtisch migrated to The Silo, a restaurant in Lake Bluff that served more traditional Chicago-style pizza, and then disbanded. When I lived at the synagogue I was just a few blocks from Buffo's and occasionally we'd get takeout but we didn't eat there often. Since I moved up to Vernon Hills in 2000 I've probably not been to Buffo's more than twice. Tonight I joined Kit and Robyn and Corban, their 7 month old, former roommate/synagogue boy Steve R. and his girlfriend Natalie, and a couple of Kit's family friends and their daughter. It was like old times sitting around basking in the glory of double decker pizza and buckin' hot sauce with Kit and Steve and few friends. We ate outside, which was different from old times, and I had Leinie's Red instead of pepsi, also different, but it was great. The weather was sunny and cool, just nice. Kit got a Buffo's t-shirt to go along with the other t-shirts he's been amassing on vacation and a good time was had by all.

Regarding Jenn's question about pizza we've got all the basic national pizza chains up here. We've got Domino's, Pizza Hut, Papa John's, Little Caesar's, Chuck E. Cheese. As far as I know none of them are hurting for business. But the real pizza power around here is with places like Giordano's, Gino's East, Lou Malnati's, Rosati's, The Silo, Pizzaria Uno or Due that serve the authentic Chicago Style deep dish. Obviously people have their preferences maybe liking Uno's personal size pizza or Gino's unique crust or Lou's sheet of sausage that covers the face of the pizza beneath the sauce. It seems like they've all won awards, enough so that I have at times wondered if there are just so many pizza cookoffs that everybody gets to win one. But they're definitely all good. Like I said in the earlier comment thread, the typical deep dish Chicago pizza has a thick bready crust overlaid with toppings and cheese and then topped off with crushed tomatos. My guesstimate is that it's 2-3" thick and is cut in wedges. There's also a thin crust Chicago style that has a very thin crisp crust overlaid with sauce, toppings and cheese and cut into little squares. It's usually very greasy. This is the typical thin crust pizza that you will get in bars or regional chains around here and it's also very good. As for Jenn's question of whether she'll get up here, eat at Gino's and be ruined for Pizza Hut, I think that's a risk well worth taking. Nevertheless I still like almost any style pizza from the cafeteria pizzas we had in school to frozen pizzas to Papa John's or Domino's to something classic like Gino's or quirky like Bill's or Buffo's or the Basil's special at Bill's Pizza in Northfield. If you say to me, "Let's go get some pizza for supper. It's on me and money's no object," sure we're going to Bill's or Gino's or The Silo. If it's late and we're hanging out and want to order a thin crust pizza to snack we're calling Kaiser's or Pizza Italia, but if somebody says, "Hey! Let's go to Pizza Hut!" I'm fine with that. It's not all it could be but I like what it is. A place like Domino's won't make your mouth as happy as Buffo's or Kaiser's but it won't give you quite the same greasy cheese lump in your stomach either. Sometimes there's a price to pay for the deliciousness that goes beyond money. Ambience also plays a large part in my pizza preferneces. It's not quite as much fun to eat at Gino's in Libertyville where you can walk in and be seated right away as it was to eat after waiting in line on Ontario St. to get in and be able to sign your name on the wall of the Gino's downtown. There's something about throwing peanut shells at your friends and looking at the stuffed animals in Bill's Pub, drinking oatmeal stout in the loft of The Silo, discussing free will and determinism while watching the Bulls play, sniffing the clove smoke, and eating a chocolate chip cookie as big as a scone at Buffo's, an associative memory that makes the pizza that much better. For that matter the same thing happens when you eat at an old synagogue/church at Joe Bologna's in Lexington or getting a Bill's Special at Basil's and the next week getting a Basil's Special at Bill's while you teach someone to hair wrestle at midnight on a Wednesday in Northfield. Pizza's pizza and among the chief of things for which we should thank God regurlarly. The way it is around here is what it should be but that other stuff's okay too. It's pizza.

Verse of the Day and Surprise Visitor

"I will give thanks to you, O LORD, among the peoples;
I will sing praises to you among the nations.
For your steadfast love is great above the heavens;
your faithfulness reaches to the clouds." Psalm 108:3-4 (ESV)

Yesterday around noon I was sitting at my desk at work when a stroller with a cute baby was pushed into my office. I looked at the stroller and baby and the arm sticking in the doorway wondering who in the world it could be. I looked at Cindee, who could see the person, but she wasn't saying anything. The arm was tan enough to be Asian but the baby wasn't. After a suitably dramatic pause my friend Kit poked the rest of himself through the door. Apparently as he had approached the door he had his finger over his lips so Cindee wouldn't give him away. I was stunned but very happy. Kit lives in Australia but is on holiday with his wife and their 7 month old son. When he's not surfing or fishing he teaches theology at a college in Australia and is beginning work on a Ph.D. Cindee and I went out to lunch with Kit and his family at Dominick's and we had a good time getting caught up. Kit, Cindee, and I had all been security guards together and Kit and I had lived together at the synagogue. It was a good time. Tonight I'll be joining Kit, Robyn, and another former synagogue boy, Steve, at Buffo's in Highwood for some double decker pizza. Before he had gone back home to Australia 4 years ago Kit had threatened to kick my butt if I transferred from the M.Div. to the M.A.R. program. I finally figured I was safe, made the transfer, and graduated. He was in Australia, what was he gonna do, right? Then he shows up in my office. Fortunately he didn't make good on the threat. I'm looking forward to pizza tonight.