Thursday, August 06, 2009

Becky on the Phone

Just for fun

Camping Trip

Becky, Ty, Josh and I went camping to Devils Lake, WI on Sunday through Tuesday. It was a fun camping trip with some time spent playing ladder ball, hiking around the lake, swimming, and just all out relaxing. I miss being able to camp every other weekend or so like I used to when I was in high school.
We had a great campfire going. I wanted to get a good photo, but was a little worried about getting the camera too close to the flames. I took the other photos on our hike around the lake. It was a beautiful day, but by the end of the hike I was done. I am not in as good a shape as I once was.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Random images

It has been a few days since I've posted some photos. I missed one day, but I'll try to make that up sometime in the next few days.
I am married to the most amazing woman. She is packing for our camping trip tomorrow, Monday and Tuesday. Me, I'm taking photos of a trash can with a shiny lid.
Another proof that I'm married to the most amazing woman. We made homemade pizza on Friday night. It was wonderful, though try as I might, I just can't throw pizza dough.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

An evening prayer study

Becky and I hosted our prayer study group tonight. It has been a lot of fun team teaching this group, though it has been a bit of an eye opener on how well we would do working in the same church. I'm not saying that it wouldn't work, but adjustments would have to be made. Our styles are more different than either of us anticipated.
As always one of the best parts of any church study is snacks. These cookies were delicious, but I plead the fifth on how many I ate.
I was also wondering how many bibles might be owned by two pastors fresh from seminary. I came up with the answer of eighteen and took a photo. We have more bibles then this however, as some are duplicated, and I pulled the duplicates out of the photo.

Monday, July 27, 2009


I was lazy today, and really didn't leave the house except to go to the grocery store. I'm sure I could have taken some fun photos there, but it's more fun to just pull some things together that I have around the house instead.
I love baseball, and most of these are balls that I caught during batting practice at Coors Field. I miss going to baseball games. It's not to say that I can't go to a Cubs or Sox game now, but Cubs tickets are really not that affordable, and the Sox....well they are the Sox. The first year the Rockies played at Coors however, my friends and I went fourteen times that summer. That was one of the best summers of my life. There is something somewhat life-giving when you venture out to the ball park.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

A weekend in Iowa

We went to two great worship services this weekend, and Becky didn't even have to preach. On Saturday we got to attend the ordination of our friend Elissa. It was a beautiful service at her home church, and I don't think I have ever seen her as excited as she was. We then drove that evening to Indianola, Iowa where we stood up as sponsers at the baptism of a good friends daughter. It was very special to be asked to be Godparents. We then went to a birthday party for both of our friends daughters. It was a fun weekend. Here is a photo from the birthday party, and another one from just walking around town.

Friday, July 24, 2009

An afternoon of prayer.

Becky and I went up to a Catholic retreat and prayer center this afternoon to check out thier Labyrinth. We want to take our prayer class on a field trip there later this summer. It was a beautiful day; nice and sunny. Here is a photo of part of a fountain near the Labyrinth.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Natures Textures.

I have been trying to take and post a photo everyday. While I missed the 22nd, I had some fun today just exploring a variety of different textures. It was fun.

Seperation of Church and State?

Taking a walk the other day, I was struck by just how many people have American flags flying in front of their homes in Manhattan (IL). Small towns really do have a different feel then most of the cities that I have lived in during my life. There have always been plenty of flags around, no matter where I have lived, but on a walk here, I think I counted about eight to ten flags just standing still in the middle of an intersection.

Since Independance Day, I have been doing a lot of reading about the American Revolution, and the beginning days of our government. I have read biographies of George Washington, John Adams, and am now starting on Thomas Jefferson. My goal is to eventually get a hard look at American history through the eyes of each of our presidents. I want to know which ones I thought were good, and which ones were bad based on my own opinion instead of that gleaned from somebody else's list.

One thing that I realize as I read, is that the old saying still stands true. "The more things change, the more they stay the same." We complain every election year how dirty and mean spirited political campaigns get. We get mad over what we consider to be personal attacks on our favorite candidate. I have often heard people wish for things to be done the way they used to be done. As I read however, I see just how mean spirited even the first campaigns were. There were vicious attacks made on candidates from the very beginning. Mudslingers today in fact could probably learn a great deal by looking at the mudslingers of yesteryear.

I was drawn the other day to take photos of some of my neighbor’s flags as I was reflecting on the topic of patriotism and church. I guess I would consider myself patriotic in the sense that I am proud of the country that I live in. I have a feeling that many people would not consider me overly patriotic however. Since coming to seminary and visiting many small town congregations I have also been struck by how many church sanctuaries have American flags in them. I grew up in a congregation that didn't have a flag, and to be honest I have been somewhat uncomfortable worshiping in congregations that do have American flags present. I think my first exposure to patriotism in a church happened on a mission trip I participated in the summer before my first year of seminary. We were assisting a congregation in Port Arthur, TX with bible school every evening, and I was surprised when at the beginning of every day the kids did the Pledge of Allegiance. The kids also gave a pledge to God as they faced the Christian Flag as well to be fair, but it bothered me that the first pledge given in a Bible school would be given to a nation. Throughout history, I think that many people have internalized the idea of manifest destiny into their Christian faith. They have come to believe that as Americans we are more divinely blessed then those of other countries. I think this has been seen a great deal in recent history in our politics where it has been suggested that if one is Christian they must vote certain ways in political elections. Combine American flags in our congregations with implicit views that Christians must vote certain ways, and many in our nation with opposite views have come to believe that they are not welcome in our congregations or in our faith.

I guess I struggle with great amounts of patriotic banter and paraphernalia because I have seen them used so often as a weapon, as opposed to an expression of celebration. I guess I struggle with American flags in sanctuaries, because I have faith in a God that is much bigger and more expansive then this country that I live in, regardless of how thankful I am to live here. I do feel blessed to live in the United States, but I don't know that I am more blessed then people in other countries. In fact sometimes I wonder if I am actually blessed less so. I see in the United States we are progressively becoming a "post-Christian" nation. (That is if we can ever say we were ever a truly Christian nation. It's interesting to note that both Washington and Jefferson were more Deists in their beliefs then Christian.) The same is true in Europe. Denominations are shrinking in the US, congregations are dying, and people are searching and not finding answers. On the other hand, in Africa, Asia, and South America, Christianity is on the rise. As we look at scripture, we see that Jesus taught people of all nations and all races. We see that Jesus crossed national boundaries, spoke of a God that ruled over both Jews and Gentiles. We also see that he sp0ke of living a simple life, focused on worshiping the Lord over all other things. I sometimes wonder if as Americans we have forgotten these lessons. I sometimes wonder if maybe those in other nations “less blessed” then ours, have been able to find God in their simple lifestyles, free from the clutter of American luxury.

I am proud of my country. I am proud of my brother, and my father. I’m proud of my grandfather, and my uncle. I am proud of many of my friends. All serve, or have served in our armed forces. I proud of my family who taught be to value the blessings of living in our country, and also taught me my faith. I just wonder sometimes if we as Christians try too hard to combine our faith and our nation to the ultimate detriment to our faith?