Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Light That Pierces Darkness

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. 8 He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.
9 The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

We sincerely hope that you are all enjoying a blessed Christmas season. As we have gone through this Advent season, we have been focusing on the Light of the world, Jesus Christ. That focus has led us to a new re-realization of how lost we all are without Jesus Christ. It has also shown us how inadequate we have been about proclaiming His light to those around us who live in the same darkness that we once lived in. We pray that His light will shine through all of us as our lives touch others so that maybe He can touch them. Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

My Life When I'm Not Blogging

It has been a few weeks since I have posted anything and with good reason. I had a project that I had promised to complete by Christmas. It has involved a lot of 17 hour work days over the past couple of weeks, but I finished yesterday. I will need to go back for some minor touch up stuff, but the customer is pleased and I am too. I thought I would share some pictures of the project through different stages of its steps towards completion. The project is designed and built solely by myself. The wood is quarter-sawn ash and matched ash veneers.

This is where the project will go. This picture was taken 1 year ago. The project will have a bookcase on the left side of the fireplace, the fireplace hearth and mantle, and an entertainment center on the right side of the fireplace.

This is a picture of the project in my shop 2 weeks ago. I assembled the whole unit in the shop as I made the mouldings and trim work to go on the unit. You can see a little bit of the amazing grain in the wood on this unit. You can also see a little bit of my cluttered shop.

This is after the first day of installation on Wednesday. I hired another cabinetmaker to help me with the installation. These units are a little big to handle by myself. I could have done it, but I saved myself a tremendous amount of time by hiring in someone else.

This is the finished project after I was done yesterday afternoon. Just a little bit of moulding to go around the marble and it will be done. The customer was very happy and so am I. It is not the largest project I have ever done, but it may be the most complicated. It may also be the most rewarding. This will go down as one of my favorite projects I have done.

Friday, December 7, 2007

The Golden Compass and the Christian Response

The movie The Golden Compass opens this weekend under a large amount of criticism. There is a tremendous push by the movie company to make this one of the largest money making fantasy movies of all time. However, like I stated above, the movie is taking some very serious hits about its story line and the book series that it is based on. I don't feel that I can adequately review or respond to something I haven't seen or read. However, I can refer you to someone who has done both and provides a fantastic critique of the movie and the book series and what it means for Christian believers.
Read here.

Challies December Giveaway

Sorry I'm a little late with this one, but if you want an opportunity to win a nice set of Biblical resources for your church, you can enter by clicking the banner. You only have until Monday, December 10 to enter.

December Giveaway

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Nowhere Man

"He's a real nowhere man
Sitting in his nowhere land
Making all his nowhere plans for nobody"

Disclaimer: This is a continuation of Beatles song themed posts. I only include this because it is one of the funniest stories I know. It is a story about a young man we will call Ted. Ted was someone I met many years ago and was a very casual acquaintance. As in, Ted may actually be his real name, I don't remember. That is how casually we knew each other. He was a party guy and this story involves one such party. I was not there and do not condone the behavior I will relate to you, but the story did actually happen. If anything, read this as a warning to what can happen when you willing inebriate yourself to the level which Ted did.

As I stated above, Ted was a party guy and was also a frequent pot smoker. He was either in his senior year of high school or had recently graduated with no plans of further education. Either way, the Memorial Day weekend was coming up and Ted's friends planned a large drinking party over the holiday weekend. Someone they knew had a piece of property a couple of miles from town that was secluded and located on the river. The property was bare other than a pier that ran out into the river for docking boats. It was really the perfect place for a party since there were no houses or people around.
So the party takes place on Sunday afternoon/evening. There is a good group of people and they get a bonfire going. Someone at sometime has brought some old furniture out to the party place, chairs and even an old couch. The party is going in full force and Ted is well on his way to destroying more of his brain cells. As the party gets into late evening, Ted manages to find a place on the couch which is located out on the dock extending into the river. The party continues on and Ted eventually passes out on the couch.
Well, the evening is getting late and people start to leave, including Ted's ride home from the party. Of course he doesn't realize it because he is sleeping his buzz off on the couch. Or at least he was until he rolled off of the couch into the river. Cold, late May river water has a startling wakening effect on the inebriated sleeper. Fortunately, Ted woke up and was able to stand up and get himself onto dry land. He comes to the realization that it is really late, like early morning hours, and that everyone has left him there with no way to get home. Of course he is also very cold and wet due to his sudden baptism and he is still drunk. He decided that the best thing to do was to go back to sleep and in the morning either someone would remember to come and get him or he could walk back into town. Not wanting to continue feeling cold and wet, and since no one was there, he stripped naked and laid his clothes out near the bonfire so they could dry. He then climbed back on the couch to sleep.
Well the sun finally woke Ted up and he had some vague memories of what had happened during the night. As he got up off of the couch to retrieve his dried out clothes he realized they were no longer where he had placed them. It seems that he had laid them a little too close to the fire and that they had all been burned up. So we now have a naked man two miles from home without a ride. However, Ted is not without resources. Cell phones weren't around yet so he couldn't call anyone. He didn't feel quite right about walking to the nearest farm house naked and having to explain that. But, he did have the couch. Of course a couch that has been relegated to riverside party life is probably not the nicest couch. Imagine grandma's 1971 burnt orange and brown polyester couch and you are probably getting the picture. Well, Ted realizes what he needs to do and really should be commended for his ingenuity. He takes one of the couch cushions, unzips it, pulls out the foam cushion part, and punches two leg holes in the cushion cover. He then steps into the cushion with the zipper portion around his waist and begins his walk home wearing his improv couch cushion "shorts".
As he finally nears his house after walking the 2 miles into town, the full weight of his previous nights actions began to sink in on Ted. For Ted lived directly across the street from Veterans Park. It was Memorial Day. In the town that Ted lived in, they had a parade every Memorial Day that finished at Veterans Park. So as all of the parade goers watched, Ted scurried past them to his house wearing nothing but his couch cushion shorts.
I also strongly considered "Mother Natures Son" for the title of this post. But since Ted went on to do not much of anything as far as I know, this title fit him best. The last time I heard about Ted, he had just survived being struck by lightning. It seems that he really wanted to smoke some pot, so he sneaked out and hid under the tallest tree during a thunderstorm while getting his high.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Happiness is a Warm Gun

Disclaimer: The following story may make some who are vegan or PETA types slightly queasy. However, the overall story is worth getting to the end for and I hope that you would try to persevere.

I had no intentions on participating in this. But yesterday, this memory came to mind as did this song title. So here is the story and its list of characters.

I come from a family of seven boys. Yep! All boys, no girls. I am number six from the top otherwise known as the second youngest. I will refer to my brothers by their first initial and a number that represents where they are in the birth order. D1, B2, K3, D4, R5, E6(me), and on the end A7. Most of my brothers have nothing to do with this story but are included just to confuse you. Actually, the story's only characters are myself, R5, A7, and a mutual friend named Chad.

At least 10 years ago, R5, A7, our friend Chad, and myself went out deer hunting. Now in Wisconsin it is practically your duty as a citizen of the state to participate in the annual gun deer season. It provides revenue for the state by way of a "tax" called a hunting license. It is also a virtual means of self defense for the rest of the year, due to the amount of deer actually in the state and their natural desire to run around looking for ways to hurtle into your car while you are driving at speeds of 60 MPH. Either way, I used to hunt but didn't enjoy it enough to go back into the woods in the last 10 years.

On opening weekend of whenever this story took place, R5, A7, Chad, and I were hunting on some state owned public hunting grounds near the center of Wisconsin. I remember that we hadn't seen anything to shoot all morning and had met up together by mid morning to discuss our plan for the rest of the day. We decided to head back out for a little while longer before lunch time and see if we could find anything. So we split up and starting walking back to our deer stands where we hoped for some unsuspecting deer to pass us by. Shortly after entering back into the woods, I heard a shot and then another. They were close and seemed to come from the area where R5 was sitting. I sat a little longer, listening for more shots, and looking to see if the shots would scare up any deer who would pass my way. No such luck, so after waiting a few minutes I left my stand to go and see if someone in our party had gotten a deer. When I got to where R5 was, he was standing over a dead deer. He had just gotten to his stand when the deer came walking through and R5 shot. Shortly after I got there, Chad found us with my brother A7 being the last to show up for the "look at the dead deer" party.

Now I should explain a little about my younger brother, A7. He is a very good outdoors-men, loves to hunt, fish, hike, etc. He knows all these different plants and barks that you can eat if you get lost in the wild without food and would prefer not to starve. He also has a litany of various hunting/outdoor stories that have a tendency to run towards the side of excessive exaggeration. I refer to him as the "Last Great White Hunter". He also is quick to take the hunting thing to a bit of an extreme, such as drinking the blood of the first deer you kill. You get the picture.

Anyway, R5, Chad, and I are standing around the recently deceased deer when A7 comes walking down the pine tree row. In an attempt to try and show his ability and knowledge in hunting, A7 asks if he can gut the deer. For those who don't know, a freshly killed deer must have all of its organs and what not removed soon after it is killed to preserve the venison for eating. Well, R5, Chad, and myself all have the ability to gut the deer, but if A7 actually wants to do it, then who are we to stop him. So, A7 leans his gun against a tree, pulls out his hunting knife, and lays the deer on its back. Now to properly gut a deer, you start by cutting through the skin from just under the neck between the front legs and then all the way across the stomach to the tail. The slight problem that arises in trying to do this is that dead deer do not lay on their backs well and due to the fact that their legs are always pointing straight, it is a little difficult to keep the deer on its back, with legs spread out wide, so that you can cut open its chest. I hope you get the picture. To help A7 out with the deer organ removal process, Chad stood on the deer's right rear leg and I stood on its left rear leg. This allowed the deer to be completely spread eagle like, on the its back, waiting for A7's impending knife point. At this point A7 gets down on the ground with his knees right behind the deer's tail and leans over the deer to began the cutting sequence. Something else you may not know, but should be reminded of is that dead animals have involuntary muscle twitches shortly after their demise. Back to the story. As A7 leans over the deer and begins to cut, the deer's ear moved. I know what you are thinking, but no, the deer is dead this is just involuntary muscle twitching. So as my brother continues to operate with his knife, more muscle twitches. A7 sees the twitches and in this loud voice filled with hunters bravado begins to mock the dead deer. He is actually laying across the dead deer with his knife pointed in the open eye of the deer mocking it. "Oh! Think you're still alive! You're not 'cause we killed you and now we are going to eat you." It was a little weird but not out of character for my brother. It was at this moment, as my brother lay completely straddling the deer, that the moment we have all been waiting for arrived.

Some things in life you come upon, while others are thrust upon you. This moment was the latter. It is not every day that you are standing over a deer, watching your younger brother acting with such bravado over a dead animal. It is also not every day that one has such an opportunity and so you can not just let it pass by without acting. So as he lay with his face just inches away from the twitching deer face, with his knife pointed at its throat, mocking it loudly and verbosely as he stared into its eyes, that was the moment that I intentionally lifted my foot. Remember, I am standing on the deer's hind leg. When I lifted my foot, the leg took off like a catapult that had just been released, snapping back towards its own stomach and directly towards the backside of my sprawled out brother. That leg hit him in the rear end with a loud snap and A7 thought the deer had come back to life while he was spread out over it. He let out this loud yell and jumped up and backwards as his knife flew 30 feet in the air. He started yelling and looking for his gun to shoot the deer. I don't think I have ever seen anyone so scared in my life. However, he quickly realized what I had done and started calling me every name in the book. He also continued to reach for his gun, but I think he was looking to shoot me at that point. I remember Chad, R5, and myself laughing so hard we were crying and that I wouldn't let A7 near his rifle for the next half an hour for fear that he would shoot me. So, while happiness is a warm gun, happiness is also holding your warm gun and your bother's warm gun whom you just played a prank on.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Update and song thoughts

Kim's test went well yesterday. The area of concern is no longer. She has what the doctor referred to as "redundant tissue", which means that she has a little more heart then the rest of us. There is no follow up needed with the cardiologist so this is all good news.

This last week has brought with it a song. It is a song that I knew and was familiar with, but it seems almost as if I am listening to it with new ears recently. It is the song "You Created" by Caedmon's Call. I find it amazing that the familiar can so many times become new for us when we view it or listen to it or read it. This often happens for me with scripture. Anyway, this song points to me where my focus should be and the idols in my heart that I have made of my own pleasures. It also reminds me of a quote by John Calvin, "The evil in our desire typically does not lie in what we want, but that we want it too much." What Calvin means is that most of what becomes sin for us is not that we desire wrong or evil things, but rather that what we desire becomes too much of am emphasis. Our blessings, given to us by God, too often become our gods or the objects of our delight instead of the Giver. Anyway, here are the lyrics to the song.

Who is like unto the Lord our God
Who dwelleth on high, Who dwelleth on high
Who is like unto the Lord our God
Who dwelleth on high, Who dwelleth on high

You dwell in glory
The heavens are Your home
You began the story
And made Your beauty known

But You created nothing
That gives me more pleasure than You
And You won't give me something
That gives me more pleasure than You

You hung the planets
In Your image You made man
I'm overcome and broken
At the wonders of Your hand