Thursday, December 21, 2006

I just ate Rudolph!

So, I made it to Norway. But my mind has yet to catch up. I left Houston at 7 pm, slept maybe an hour in flight, and arrived in Stavanger, Norway at 5 pm the next day (15 hours in transit). The plane was pretty nice, but those seats are only so comfortable, so no sleep for me.

Sunny StavangerSurprisingly, the weather is actually quite balmy for December - hovering around 40oF with rain. I have yet to see the sun, though. Not that I have not been outside in the daytime, or even seen a brightness in the sky that could be called "day" (but only for about 5 hours), it's just that the sun does not rise high enough above the horizon to be seen over the buildings of the town.

Half-twin bedsMy hotel is a cheap one; the "twin" beds are not perceptibly larger than a couch and the shower leaks water all over the floor of the bathroom. A few environmental features are highlighted: first, no bars of soap (to save on packaging), instead there is hand soap; second, the lights in the room only come on once you insert your room key card into a slot by the door (you leave the room, you turn out the lights by necessity).

Light switchFor some strange reason the dozen or so TV channels I have to choose from are all in Norwegian - I just can't understand that ;~) And speaking of Norwegian, I find that I can read around a third of Norwegian (especially signs) as it is relatively similar to English and logical leaps can be made to translate.

But I digress. Did I mention that over the last 78+ hours, I have only slept six? The ol' brains a little foggy. And I don't want smoked fish for dinner :( Or lunch. Or breakfast!

Other than being tired, though, the business trip is going great. I presented our work this morning, and it was very well received. Now for a little more impromptu work to fill the next day and a half and I'll be off to home, weather permitting.

Oh, I bet you're wondering about the post title "I just ate Rudolph". I had reindeer for dinner. Don't tell Little Euphrony; she'll be crushed. Hey, at least I didn't eat the whale. No joking, here; it's on the menus. They have two notable slogans about their continuing whale hunting. First: "Intelligent food for intelligent people." Second: "If we had dolphins, we'd kill them, too."

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Thursday, December 14, 2006

Biff and the Stormtroopers

Before I go incommunicado as I travel to Norway and do the whole Christmas thing, I thought I would leave with a few parting amusements. First, I present for you're perusal a song from Tom Wilson - "The Daughter Song". A few months ago, I posted another song from Tom Wilson, better known as "Biff" from Back to the Future, which was very funny and well received. Here is another, which I think about sums up every father's feelings about his daughter. It sure captures mine!


Next is one that came out around ten years ago. A guy named Kevin Rubio and some friends did a very professional parody of Star Wars and Cops called Troops. If you have not seen this before, watch it and laugh your rear end off.

Enjoy, and Merry Christmas!

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Prayer Updates

It's been a little while since I updated everyone on current prayer requests. I still keep the list on the side current (at least weekly), but here are a few to highlight.

  • My friend, Erinlo, is mourning the loss of an old friend. Sarah progressed quickly through cancer, and about a month after diagnosis she has gone home to be with the Lord. Pray for Erin, as she travels to the funeral this weekend, and for Sarah's family and friends.
  • Mike is continuing to struggle in recovering from complications after gastric bypass. He has been out of work for around three months now, all in the hospital, and he and his family need prayers that he grow stronger and be able to move no to rehab and, eventually, back to work.
  • Jill, an old friend from high school, has been seriously struggling with her health. Around two months ago, she began to have headaches and passing out - her whole body will go limp, as if she was anesthetized; she remains alert to her surroundings but unable to respond. The episodes occur upwards of six times a day. The doctors have found no answers as to what causes them, and at the moment have no treatments for her. She is an elementary school principal, a mother of three, and has a husband whose job takes him away from the house a great deal of the time. Please pray that the new doctor she started with this week will find some answers and be able to help her, and pray that God take care of her and her family right now.
  • My dad has been having seizures recently. This first started around
    12 years ago, and the doctors knew exactly how to treat them and he's done well until the last few months. The medicine that is supposed to be consistently in his bloodstream has not been there like it should be lately, and they are not sure why. One thing is for sure, when the medicine is low, he has a seizure; the most recent was Tuesday morning.
    Please pray for him; he had planned to go on a mission trip to Ghana in January, but that has been canceled (as was his last planned trip to Ghana).
  • Pray for me and my family. I will be traveling to Norway (for work) the whole week before Christmas, returning on Friday the 22nd if the weather cooperates. This is, of course, a stressful time to travel; more over, leaving Erin at home six-months pregnant and being killed by allergies and heartburn, trying to finish getting ready for Christmas, and watch a three-year old girl will be hard on her. To make things even better, I will likely be gone for a week or so to Brazil in January on another project. These upcoming trips, and the work associated with them, is why I have blogged very little in the last few weeks. I'm exhausted and, frankly, ready for the baby to get here in March so I can get some rest. (Compared to what I'm up to right now, a new baby sounds restful at the moment.)
I appreciate you're prayers on these things.

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Friday, December 08, 2006

Don't be a Pip

Just a reminder, as we are full swing into the holiday party season, don't be a "Pip".



And, if you happen to encounter a "Pip", please be considerate of your fellow man and do not perform a "human sacrifice" by getting someone else to take your place stuck talking to this fellow.

Happy holidays!

(For some good, meaningful words from Ben Stein (the voice of Pip), check out Seth's blog.)

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Tuesday, December 05, 2006

What a weekend

I'm exhausted. And after the schedule I've been keeping lately, I have every right to be.

Lets see, the most recent spate began this past Thursday. I remember it like it was only, well, last Thursday . . .

VeggieTalesI rush home after work to pick up Mrs. Euphrony, Little Euphrony, Lil' E's best friend (here to be referred to as BF), and BF's mom (BFM). We hope in the minivan, pop in a movie, and start driving to College Station. We've got an appointment with the VeggieTales "A Very Veggie Christmas ... Live!". Let me tell you, nothing says Christmas like a bunch of talking produce. After 90 minutes in the car with a 3-year old and 4-year old, plus stops for dinner and potty, we arrive at the venue. This is where the real adventure began because, you see, I'm a goof up. I'm sure you quickly counted the above listed names and correctly surmised that there were to be five in our party. Then why, for the love of Pete, did I only purchase four tickets? Why? My first attempt at correction, since they would not allow refunds or exchanges, was to purchase one extra seat directly behind the others. Great plan, right? Never good enough, though. Kat, when you worked KSBJ events, I was probably the person you hated. I'm calling, trying to get these rearranged to be all together (I mean, there was a ton of open seats. What's the big deal????) but had to wait until we got there to do anything. So, I personally hold up the Will Call line to get things worked out. We all go in, sit down, and enjoy a show the two girls loved.

By the way, Lil' E and BF never actually sat in a chair. Only in laps so they could see better. Why did I jump through all the hoops? To be legit and because, if I didn't, it would have come back and bit me in the rear.

After getting home late, and getting Little Euphrony in bed at around midnight, I get up to be in a work at my normal 7-7:30 time. I then head out for a optometrist appointment at 9:30, for both myself and for Lil' E (her first). She still firmly believes that having her eyes checked will hurt, despite her experience. (We have a good optometrist, by the way, and he worked well with Lil' E.) After work on Friday, I pick up the girls and we head up to the church building. It was "Neighbor Helping Neighbor" weekend - this is an annual "free" church-wide garage sale where we take whatever donations people are willing to give and offer it all, completely free, to people in the community. It gives us a chance to help out people who need clothes, household items, even large furniture (we had several beds, two washers and a dryer, desks, and other large items) and to interact with them and see where, beyond the physical, we can help. Friday night was the organization of it all, having donations dropped off, sorting and laying out things, and bringing up a couple of guys from an inner-city Houston church to get first choice of what their needy could use. Then, for most of the day on Saturday, we had people coming through - we specifically invited several area apartment complexes and put out flyers to let people know - and then what was left was collected and taken to
Northwest Assistance Ministries and to Salvation Army.

After a nice lunch at Jason's Deli (unbelievably crowded), we head home to change clothes and work our way across town to a friend's house for a Christmas party. This party was centered around the good ol' practice of walking the neighborhood and caroling. It was cold out (translate: Mrs. Euphrony, at 6-months pregnant, was quite comfortable) but everyone had a good time. Little Euphrony ended up disappointed because we did not sing "Joy to the World" right - that is, how she sings it at pre-school for their upcoming Christmas program, with a little chant and fist-pumping at the beginning followed by singing the song at the top of your lungs. Again, another late night and long day, but a lot of good.

Sunday morning, I was up at the church building early to help cook a huge meal to be taken down to the above-mentioned inner-city church for Sunday lunch. Around 20 gallons of mashed potatoes, 10 gallons of green bean casserole, and 105 pounds of sausage later, the food was ready to go and I was even able to make it in to worship on time. We treated ourselves to a good lunch at a hibachi grill (Mrs. Euphrony craves good fried rice right now), did a little shopping for some new sweaters for me, a little food shopping, and then headed home. After play time we had dinner at CiCi's Pizza (what, so we eat out regularly - you gotta problem with that?) where Little Euphrony induced a deep belly laugh out of me and made Mrs. Euphrony choke while trying to laugh. (She got a kid's toy with her free meal, a small dragon figurine in a plastic egg. While sitting at the table, she asked me to open the top of the egg so she could "pop it out", which I did and then handed it to her. She then reiterated that she was going to "pop it out" and proceeded to spread her legs, place the toy in her crotch, and "pop it out"! I think she is really getting a grasp on what is coming with baby brother.) After we got home, Mrs. Euphrony put Lil' E in bed while I cooked around three gallons of stew and cornbread (for ourselves and to take to two other families that just had babies). I love to cook, but we still seem to eat out often just for convenience.

After an action-packed weekend like that, a normal week is welcome. But, since it the holiday season that will have to wait. Besides normal Christmas activities, I am preparing for a business trip to Norway the whole week before Christmas. I hear it's cold there (thus the aforementioned sweaters).

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Friday, December 01, 2006

Ruminations: 1 Timothy 1

I thought that today I would give you a little peek into the mind of Euphrony (don't worry, I'm only inviting you into the parlor, where things are relatively neat and tidy). These are some raw first impressions on reading through 1 Timothy chapter 1. In general, my Bible study is approached very simply: just me, a Bible (or several translations, actually), and a Greek and Hebrew dictionary. No commentaries, no sidebars, no distractions; just me and God and we see where the Spirit leads my study.

Actually, this is from two separate readings of 1 Timothy 1, about three weeks apart. I was struck by very different parts of this passage in the two reading, with the first focus being on versus 8-11 and the second reading focusing on versus 3-7. I hope my rambling thoughts make some sense to you.

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3binstruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines, 4nor to pay attention to myths and endless genealogies, which give rise to mere speculation rather than furthering the administration of God which is by faith. 5But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. 6For some men, straying from these things, have turned aside to fruitless discussion, 7wanting to be teachers of the Law, even though they do not understand either what they are saying or the matters about which they make confident assertions.

1 Timothy 1:3b-7 (NASB)
  • I wonder as to whom some men were attempting to tie themselves with these "endless genealogies"? Were they trying to claim relationship to Jesus? As John the Baptist held some status as a cousin of Jesus, also his brothers held some status, and possibly the apostle John (who may have also been a cousin of Jesus), were some men trying to elevate themselves through tenuous relations to the Christ? As succession to a throne is oft determined through bloodlines, did some claim importance and power as shirt-tail relatives of Jesus?
    Also, "myths and endless genealogies" seems to have an uncanny relevance today, in light of the recent attention on the gnostic gospels of Thomas and Mary and The Da Vinci Code. Perhaps the seeds of these speculations and rumors were already widespread by the time of Paul's writing to Timothy.

  • The "goal" is "love from a pure heart and a good conscience" and "sincere faith". So the point is not the thorough exogenesis of each verse of the Bible, nor is it "fruitless discussion" to reach a consensus as to what we believe and teach. The goal is not the intellectual pursuit of understanding the Gospel of Christ, but the acting out of that gospel. We do not merely proclaim TRUTH, having barely a toe-hold on what that is, but we live and act in righteousness to show love, from a heart and conscience washed pure by the blood of Christ and the boundless grace and mercies of our Father.
    We do not "hear of God" but rather see Him (
    Job 42:5) as we grow a sincere faith and leave behind the childish, trivial chasing of definition and law. (This thought bridges to the rest of Chapter 1.)

  • Define "fruitless discussion":
    1. Should there be a water fountain / kitchen in the church building?
    2. Was Jesus married? (We are told very clearly those things of relevance to His mortal passage, that hyperstatic union of God and flesh. The rest is mere speculation.)
    3. How should we "do church"? (The endless, primarily generational, conflict as to how a worship service should be conducted, and what is it's point.)
    4. How may we legislate morality? (The Pharisees and teachers of the law tried this, with endless minute definitions of what was permissible and what was tantamount to sin. Jesus verbally flayed them for this.)

8But we know that the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully, 9realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers 10and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching, 11according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, with which I have been entrusted.
1 Timothy 1:8-11 (NASB)
  • So, law is good; but only if we apply it "lawfully"? Sounds like double-speak, an empty contradictory statement. Does "lawfully" mean "appropriately"? That seems to fit the context, telling us to apply the law only where it applies. Law cannot and should not dictate morality, good actions to be done. A people, or an individual person, is not to be forcibly bound to righteousness - this idea of free will we have, that God's love compels us but does not force our response. Law, Paul rightly tells us, is a means for defining that which is contrary to God's nature and some of the consequences for lawless behavior. (In the New Testament, this boils down to one thing: "the wages of sin is death".)
    This shines a light on the statement "we are not under law, but under grace" in Romans 6:14. Though sinners, we are not "rebellious"; rather errant. Though we find unrighteous acts in our lives, we are not lawless people; we are under "a law of faith" (Romans 3:27). Thus, to those whose choice is to yield to the compelling call of Christ, there exists a different "law", that spells out not what is lawful, what is sinful, where a line is crossed or what a proper and fair punishment is (this is for that noncompliant, unyielding people who look only to how they can do as they wish with minimal repercussions); the "law of faith" is more, as Paul says twice in 1 Corinthians "all things are lawful to me, but not all are profitable."
    So, we who are under faith do as we wish, with our actions guided in the Spirit to be those which are profitable. While we may see something as "lawful" (i.e. no written proscription banning such action) we will faithfully see times when "lawful" actions tear down the body, work in the Enemy's plan rather than in Jehovah's. Faithfully, we will edify and act for profit of the soul rather than selfishly take what "law" gives and, in so doing, deny the heart of God and His Son.

It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all.
1 Timothy 1:15 (NASB)
  • Paul, in versus 12-17, exemplifies himself as proof that law leads to death, but grace to life. He is the chief of sinners, with bloody hands and violent past; yet he finds salvation in Jesus' incarnation.

This command I entrust to you, Timothy, my son, in accordance with the prophecies previously made concerning you
1 Timothy 1:18 (NASB)
  • Timothy has "prophecies" made concerning him!?!? I find that significant and very interesting. I had never noticed this before.
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