Monday, December 22, 2008

Our Christmas Tree

This is the only conifer in my house.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

New Bonsai: Pinus Mugo 'Slowmound'

before
after

This is what I did during my day being snowed and iced in (notice the white in the background outside). I turned this dwarf mugo pine into a bonsai. I'm still new at the whole bonsai thing, so I'm learning as I go. The scientific name of this one is Pinus mugo 'Slowmound' and they normally only grow to about 2 feet tall. It makes for an easy bonsai as far as controlling its size. The needles should fill out more in the spring, but in order to make them look older than they really are you remove growth on the undersides of the branches. More pictures to come, especially when my Japanese maple grows back its leaves. Right now it's a stick.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Short Story on The Writing Show

I recently wrote something for a holiday short story celebration by The Writing Show. The Writing Show is a podcast and website for writers to help them with their writing. They have a variety of topics for everyone from screen writing to children's books. I didn't win the contest, but my story can be found on the website along with a few others if you are interested in reading it. It is also posted on my writing blog that has not been updated because I have not written anything since I wrote the story.

I hope you enjoy the story. Have a great Christmas!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Youth Curriculum Graphics

I have been creating some graphics for my brother to use with his youth group curriculum over the past year. These are a few of them, and if he wants more I'm happy to oblige. If anyone else is looking for something like this, I work cheap.


Monday, November 17, 2008

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Acer Palmatum Atropurpureum


Here's a current look at my red leaf japanese maple bonsai. I repotted it, did some pruning after it grew a lot late this summer, and did a little wiring to change its shape. I recently took the wires off to keep it from scarring. The driftwood is from Gold Beach. You can see the changes since the first day it was repotted here, which was about six months ago.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Cascade College to Close Its Doors

It was announced yesterday that Cascade College will close its doors after the Spring 2009 semester. I attended from 1996-2000 and received a Bachelor's degree. I met people who will be friends for the rest of my life. I found a new desire and passion to lead worship and to be involved in the church. Because of Cascade College, I joined with a group of people starting a church plant in Salem, Oregon. It is the place where I met my wife. I have many memories from that place even after I left. I directed the singing group, Witness, and developed relationships with people that I never even went to school with, bound simply because of the love we had for this school.

Pray for Cascade College and the future of Christian education in the Northwest, pray for the churches that will be impacted by this loss, and pray for the faculty, staff, students, alumni, and people that will be affected by this unfortunate event.

Cascade College to Close Its Doors

Pray for God to work through all of this in the lives of people in the Northwest.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

New Home

Our offer to buy a house was accepted. We are going through the process of buying a house built this year (2008) on the South end of Keizer, Oregon. It's a 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom house with a decent backyard. No more rent, just a bigger payment that will eventually, in 30ish years, turn into no payment (except those pesky taxes). We hope to have our friends and family visit us soon, unless something freak happens and we can't buy it. Also, if no one gets any Christmas presents from us this year, now you know why.

Go to my wife's blog to see pictures: Kori's blog.

Thanks to Trevor Elliott for all his help.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Spiritual Crisis

We are currently in a crisis in our country and in the rest of the world. Our citizens are losing or have lost trust in our politicians and our government. We are facing a rapid decline in the integrity of our economy. Falling housing values are eminent. Even in our interconnected world, people are lonelier than ever. None of these, however, are the crisis I am talking about. We are in a spiritual crisis.

People are putting their trust in faith in politicians to fix our struggling economy and to make decisions affecting our standing in the world and the country's citizens. I see people putting their hope in a certain candidate to uphold a morality for our country and to lead us into better times. People are looking for hope in a crumbling world around them for love, friendship, and acceptance through buying a certain image and level of comfort that is unprecedented in the history of our country. People are criticizing government for all it does yet look to it to solve their problems. People are looking for direction where there is none.

Christians should know better than to put our trust in people, or money, or a false hope or anything besides God. Our trust belongs to God alone, yet He allows us to give it freely to whom we choose. Hope can only come from God, for without God there is no future for anyone. God loves His people so much that He gave up everything to prove it to them. These current crises are simply evidence to us that we Christians have a lot of work to do. We have got to stop worshiping money, power, comfort, people, government, and everything else this world has to offer. God must be first and only in everything.

Here is my encouragement to you: with God you have nothing to worry about. If the government falls apart and is no more, there is still God. If the economy implodes and you lose everything you have, there is still God. If you and your family are hungry and homeless, there is still God. If you lose your life, there is still God. With God there is a kingdom in heaven prepared for us, where there are no moths or rust or rot and where streets are paved with gold, where no one goes hungry or thirsty, and where everyone lives forever. This is the hope that people need. This is the hope that we are called to share with others. This is the hope that will change our country and the world.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Hobbies

I'm convinced that I have too many hobbies. I like to think that I'm good at so many things that there just isn't enough of my time to go around. I like to think that, but more likely it is that my attention span is short and my talents are so spread out that they rarely come to their full fruition, becoming a Jack of all Trades and a master of none.

I've been in the process of setting some of my hobbies aside to make way for those that currently interest me more, figuring out which ones are deserving of more time. Unfortunately, the process actually takes me away from doing the hobbies themselves. I've been getting a lot more reading in, but my writing has suffered along with music, graphic manipulation fun, and (as you probably noticed) blogging. I haven't been blogging. That's how much I haven't been writing. Add in other fairly new hobbies, such as gardening and bonsai, and there just isn't enough time. This doesn't account for other things I consider hobbies, like watching movies, video games, word puzzles, hiking and camping. I know there are some in there I'm missing too.

I want to say that I'm going to be paring down the hobbies, but more likely I'll add more and more. What I need to be doing is arranging my time to enjoy them all more fully, perhaps even lowering expectations for some of them and adjusting my time accordingly. It all comes down to enjoying hobbies for what they are and not turning them into a chore I don't like doing anymore. I don't want a hobby to feel like a job. Here's a question: if my job were one of my hobbies, would it cease being fun?

On that note, my wife got a job with the state. She likes it better than her last job.

Monday, September 01, 2008

You Don't Have To Yell

It seems like whenever people get to talking about politics, they become more heated than they normally do about other things. Many Christians get more excited about these things than they do about talking about and living like Jesus. In a time of recycled and heartless music, there are few artists that portray the heart of a poet and of a servant. Chris Rice is one of these few. I thought I would share these lyrics with everyone, and when you start thinking about politics and opinions, remember who you serve.

You Don't Have To Yell
by Chris Rice

So-called reality
Right there on my TV
If that's how life's supposed to be, well
Somebody's lyin'
The camera's on and we can tell
To keep your fame you have to yell
'Cause tensions build, and products sell, and
We're all buyin'
I hope we're smarter than this

Everybody take a breath
Why are all your faces red
We're missin' all the words you said
You don't have to yell
Draw your lines and choose your side
‘Cause many things are worth the fight
But louder doesn't make you right
You don't have to yell, oh
You don't have to yell

I tuned in to hear the news
I don't want your point of view
If that's the best that you can do, then
Something's missin'
And experts on whatever side
You plug your ears, you scream your lines
You claim to have an open mind, but
Nobody's listenin'
Don't you think we're smarter than this?

Everybody take a breath
Why are all your faces red
We're missin' all the words you said
You don't have to yell
Draw your lines and choose your side
Many things are worth the fight
But louder doesn't make you right
You don't have to yell
You don't have to yell

Everybody take a breath
Why are all your faces red
We're missin' all the words you said
You don't have to yell
(If everyone will take the step
Back away and count to ten
Clear your mind and start again
We won’t have to yell)
Draw your lines and choose your side
Many things are worth the fight
But louder doesn't make you right
You don't have to yell
You don't have to yell

Copyright 2006 Clumsy Fly Music (ASCAP) (adm. By Word Music, LLC)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Vote: Would Jesus Vote?

I know, the title is ironic.

The question is: would Jesus vote? Would He participate in the democratic process? It's a fairly yes or no answer, and I intended it that way. No third party option to skew any results. You can leave your comments here, but also take a second to click the poll on the sidebar in order to track these results. You only get one vote, so don't ruin it for everyone by trying to vote more than once. I know I'm asking for big trouble here, so I'm not even going to bother saying what I think, since many of you who read this blog probably already know how I feel. This will run up until election day, so there's plenty of time to think about it. After that, the poll (as well as this post, depending on how nice everyone is) will probably go bye bye. Don't forget to vote in the sidebar poll.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

4 Years of Blogging

I have been writing on this thing for four years now. I have seen other blogging friends come and go but hopefully I have not been, and will not be, someone who gives it up completely. I have started other niche blogs, but this one will always be a blog about Tim as long as it exists. Here are my attempts to give others a glimpse into the chaos in my brain. So much has happened since I first began this blog, and here are some things that have changed since then:

So now that all of these things have changed, I think it is safe to assume many more things can take place in the next four years. Already, my sister will soon be following me to Salem, my interests in new things are taking shape, Cascade Hills continues to grow and has launched a daughter church, and my wife and I continue to make new plans for our life together. I hope you continue to tune in here for happenings in my life and my perspectives on God, life, politics, media, and many other things in the world.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Horrible Books

I'm currently reading what is turning out to be a horribly written piece of fiction. It is full of grammar problems, incomplete sentences, characters that I don't care about, and a world full of plot holes filled with pretension. When you're faced with this situation, do you keep reading or do you plod through it in order to use it as an example of bad writing? Do you consider this a waste of time? I recently forced myself to finish what I consider another awful book only to gain more appreciation for those better books (see Rich's list, excepting that first Lewis guy). It makes me feel a little better about myself, but it also causes me to think about what I write and the challenge there is in even getting a book published. Why are there so many bad books? So what do you do, keep reading or toss it aside?

Monday, July 28, 2008

3 Decades

30 years ago today, something happened that would change the face of history. This date to be remembered is the anniversary of the day that Timothy Mark Lewis came into the world. Celebrate in whatever way you would, but the preferred method is with cash. Cash, or wiener dogs. My parents decided both would be appropriate. This is my birthday wiener dog.

Thanks to my family for the awesome party.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Golf = Lame

I use the "sports" tag very loosely here.

First read this article. Michelle Wie was disqualified from a golf tournament this weekend. She was in second place. The reason: not signing her scorecard before leaving the playing area. In any serious sport an athlete or team is supposed to win because they are the best. With more questionable practices by professional sports, such as steroids, possible official scandals of fixing games, and owners and cities fighting over new stadiums to be funded by taxpayers, I would say this one takes the cake. Imagine if the NBA is about to hand Michael Jordan the championship trophy when the officials look at the scorecard and realize he didn't sign the final scorecard. They hesitate and pull the trophy away and gasp, saying, "We're sorry Michael, but we're going to have to give this to the Pistons. You forgot to sign the scorecard."

I know what you're going to say. It's about tradition, etiquette, etc., blah, blah, blah. The scorecard is superfluous. If you watch golf on television you can check the score as they go. They have officials there to keep track of their scores for them. These are professionals and when we're talking about hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars, it should not be up to the athletes, if you can call them that, to work on the honor system anyway. Of course, they're all millionaires anyway, and because of this little flap, Michelle Wie lost $155,252. That's second place. I reiterate: golf is lame.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Writing: The Next Step

The past few months I have been practicing the discipline of daily writing. I set up rules that allowed me to take certain days off from writing, but for the most part I have been pretty successful in keeping with my goal of writing at least 500 words each day of various subjects and forms. I even set up a blog to keep track of these goals and for others to track my progress.

Having kept these goals and tasted the discipline of daily writing, I feel that focusing this writing may be the next step. I will continue to keep the daily writing blog, but I will also be spending more time refining some of the ideas that arose from this practice. These will not get posted because they will be the beginnings of a book (or multiple books) and I would hate to ruin my chances of having them published, because my wife wants me to write a best seller (or multiple best sellers) so that she can quit her job.

So that's it. I will be refining the rules on my writing experiment in order to begin writing a book. I will not be giving it up totally because I have had so much fun with it, but I want to stretch myself even more, and I think this is the way to do it.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Diablo 3

Today Blizzard announced that they are working on Diablo 3. The gameplay videos look amazing. Take a look for yourself. I haven't bought a video game in years, and I still play Diablo 2. I think I see my next game coming up soon.

Monday, June 23, 2008

James Dobson Criticizes Obama's Theology

Here's an article about James Dobson's criticisms of Barack Obama's theology. If he and Oprah have the same theology, then it's pretty obvious he's pandering to get votes, not that McCain is any better. Don't be fooled that Obama is a theologian.

Dobson Accuses Obama of 'Distorting' Bible

I feel a post about social consciousness coming on...

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Donaghy Says Refs Fixed Playoffs

He may be just trying to lighten his sentence or take others down with him but I've been saying this for years so this gives me a feeling of vindication. If these allegations are true, the Sacramento Kings really did beat the Lakers in 2002, and therefore should have gone to the finals. The NBA is a joke right now, especially with the calls from this year's finals. It won't change until we stop watching (just like not buying gas). If you like basketball then give professional wrestling a chance.

Here's the story. It's obvious Donaghy is talking about the Kings/Lakers series.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

No More Gas

I read about this guy who decided not to use gas for a month because of high gas prices. I think he's more in tune with what will make a difference than the email forwards you receive calling for a one day ban on gas. If we all decided to make drastic changes in the way we travel it would send a much bigger message to oil companies and the government (who receives more money in taxes than the companies do in profits, by the way).

Ultimately it comes down to a change in our lifestyle if we want to save money. If we can't afford something, don't buy it. If it means we have to move in order to save money, then move. This is a huge reason for so many foreclosures (people buy houses they really can't afford) and why the definition of middle class has changed (a "middle class" lifestyle today is nothing like it was even twenty years ago). We are a people with more than we know to do with, but the problem is we have become accustomed to having more so we waste it all on things we don't need. A recession might make us live leaner, but it might just be good for our character as a people.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Christian/Jewish Theme Park

Seriously? Although...it is owned by TBN.

You just won the Super Bowl, what are you going to do next?

I'm going to the Holy Land!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Political Peace of Mind

I never thought I would write another political post in such a short period of time, but considering what many others are thinking and talking about currently, I found it fitting. We keep hearing what a pivotal time this is in our country's history, and it is, but it is easy to be carried away in pride and allegiance to the wrong things.

We have the voice and our government works because of those who take the time to inform themselves and vote according to what they feel is best for the country. This is true if you have candidates that care more about the good of the country than their special projects or perhaps simply just getting elected. I feel we may have some candidates now that really care about the country, but my allegiance is not to this country. While it may be a great country and I am blessed and grateful to live here, there is no hope in a candidate, our government, a party, or in having our political voice heard. Our hope is only in Jesus, and that is the most amazing gift.

Having said all that, we still have the right and privilege in this country to have a say in who is elected or what our laws contain, even though there are others, such as the superdelegates who have more say when it comes to choosing some of those leaders. Much good can be done by doing our part in voting for our leaders and our laws. These things still will not bring us happiness, and they cannot give us hope.

When Paul tells us in Romans 13 that we are to submit to governing authorities, it is in the context of obeying the laws, living in peace with our neighbors, and paying taxes. It does not prescribe our duty to be active in the government, though it does say that governments are there because God put them there. If the economy were to tank tomorrow, or our country were to be invaded or destroyed and ruled by another, while authorities change and fall and rise, my loyalty is still to God. In Colossians he makes clear that it is God that rules over authorities.

For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. ~ Col. 1:16
And it is by the power of the risen Christ that God proved this authority over them.
And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. ~ Col. 2:15
Even in the Pax Romana, the Roman government was supposedly the greatest on earth at the time. Jesus came and said that there can be only one Lord, and it is not Caesar. When Jesus is asked what to give to the ruling government, He makes it clear what we are to do.
Then Jesus said to them, "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's." And they were amazed at him. ~Mark 12:17
If this is true, pay your taxes and vote for whoever you want, but do not give them your heart. That belongs to God.

So go and cast your vote, but remember that our peace and hope will not come from a tax cut or universal health care, but in the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ who loves us, and our adoption as God's children and the redemption of our bodies.

This is real hope.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

My First Bonsai

Yesterday I took a beginning bonsai class given by my boss at my place of work. Bonsai (not to be confused with banzai) is pronounced bone-sigh and literally means "tree in a pot". For my first bonsai I chose an acer palmatum atropurpureum, also known as a Red Leaf Japanese Maple. I learned some of the basics on choosing a plant, potting, plant care, and beginning the training process. I'll post more pictures as I go, but remember that this is a life-long endeavor, and one doesn't get good at it right away, but also in order for some bonsai to really start to look presentable it also takes years.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Writing An Update

The writing experiment has gone quite well so far. In almost an entire month I have missed two days, both with reasonable excuses for not writing. I think I have come up with several chunks of writing with some potential for turning into a pretty decent short story, and even a couple of full-length novel ideas. The trick now is to continue on this daily discipline of writing, but turning some of the writing into something more substantial, and perhaps even profitable. I do not know how this will happen, but time during the day is always against me. One tool that would help is a laptop, so if anyone wants to donate to the Tim Needs A Laptop fund, I am happy to accept the donations.

I've been bad about posting personal things on my blog in order for people to keep up on me. I've had a couple of doctor visits recently. I had a cold about a month or so ago that affected my breathing, but it wasn't getting any better. I tried breathing strips, sinus congestion medicine, even a sinus rinse (weird sensation). I visited the doctor and it turns out it was a sinus infection, so he gave me some antibiotics for the infection, but also suggested I have a CT scan. In the scan they found cysts in my sinuses, so I visited a specialist to go over what I should do, since breathing is still a little difficult through my left nostril, especially at night. I got to see the scan, which show I have a cyst filling the entire left nasal sinus. I have an appointment to have it drained with a long needle. Hopefully this will relieve the pressure it gives on the air passage and I will be able to breathe normally again.

This Saturday I'll be taking a bonsai class at work. This art of "tree in a pot" (literally) takes full-size trees and pruning them and training them to stay small and able to live in a small pot. I'm looking forward to learning this, for I've heard it's quite fun and relaxing, and taking years to become skilled in it, I am starting now, looking forward to having trees in my house. I hope to post many pictures of my journey in bonsai.

In case you didn't know, this is my 200th post! Hooray for milestones!

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Truth of Idol: The Self

We have seen a phenomenon in our current culture when it comes to what we watch on television. There is something to say for the popularity of reality television shows, such as Survivor, The Biggest Loser, and even Dancing With The Stars. Probably the biggest in influence and popularity of these shows is American Idol. Initially, it gives the viewer an insight into the process of becoming a signed professional musician, from the auditions to the record label. We get to see the singers interact with the judges, withe each other, and with their fans of the American public.

Along the process we see the growth of singers but, with an element of humor, we see the crash and burn of horrible auditions. I think we all get a little ego boost from each of these we watch. Either we can say to ourselves, "Hey at least I'm not that bad a singer," or if we are that bad, "at least I'm not that oblivious to the fact." I think one of the biggest fan-retaining elements to the show is that the process is given the air of being ruled by the voting masses, and though teenage girls' opinions may not speak for the rest of us, we are still given the sense that we are in control.

I think this aspect of American Idol is ironic, because it speaks to how we live our lives, especially in this country. I believe the biggest idol we can create above God is ourselves, putting us above any other, assuming we have control and the final word in all aspects of our lives. We are our own little American Idols in our own minds. It is something that we tend to do in this country, because we have so many freedoms and rights protected by our governments. We take them for granted when we have them, yet many of us impose them onto how we live our lives morally and spiritually, even when it hinders our faith and the faith of others. Paul reminds us that "Everything is permissible for me, but not everything is is beneficial."

When we place ourselves as idols, we make the assumption that our vote is the only one that counts, and that we have won on our own merits, regardless of the outcome of the vote, the opinion of the fans, or even whether or not the record label even wants us to sign. We sign our own contract before it has even had a chance to be written. We make our own critiques apart deaf to any others' and we ultimately win the competition, regardless of our own talent and ability (in singing or in life). When our opinion counts more than God's, we are essentially worshipping ourselves. We become the other god or idol that God is talking about in Exodus chapter 20 when He says "Do not worship any other gods before me" and "Do not make idols of any kind," and when we are the idol it is difficult for us to see that we have done this.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Knowing the Rules

When I was a teen, my church youth group would occasionally play a game at our devotionals. It was especially suited for large groups and lots of visitors. For those of us who had been around for a while and had played it before, it was up to us to make the game work, for in order for the game to work properly, it was up to each person to figure out the rules of the game for themselves.

The person facilitating the game would take a fork, a knife, and a spoon and place them on the floor in the center of the group. One person, usually who had never played, would be chosen to leave the room, and while that person was gone the rest of us would choose one person to be "it". Through the assumed hidden clues and codes in the way the silverware was placed, the new person would have to guess who was "it". Before everyone caught on to how the game was played (some of them never got it), we would sometimes have someone who knew the rules do the same, just to show that it could be done. The secret to the game was that it was a simple game of misdirection.

The secret of the game is that the hinting came not from the silverware, but from those who knew the rules. Whatever position the "it" person took, whether sitting or standing or crossing their legs or folding their arms, it was up to the others to mimick them as subtly as possible. Whenever "it" moved, everyone else followed.

The game acts as a metaphor for our worship services. Our worship services are places full of language, tradition, and actions that are foreign to visitors. Every once in a while someone will have the "aha!" moment when they finally get it. The silverware, the people moving together. Once they know and understand the rules and language, they will wonder why others don't. Our worship services have their own ways of inclusion and language and tradition that when it is finally understood, it sometimes means more to people than if they were more overt in its language. Jesus did this through the use of parables, that were obvious in their meaning to some and confusing to others.

Sometimes it takes someone telling them the rules. They won't get it until they get hints or until some of the distractions are taken away. At times we had to take away the silverware and play a couple more rounds of the game. Removing some of the non-essential pieces sometimes can be helpful in getting others involved. Sometimes with our worship services we have to take away some of the confusing language or distracting components. Like the silverware it serves a purpose, but sometimes that purpose is only confusing to those who don't know the rules. In order to be more inclusive, sometimes we must take away some of the forms, language, and distractions that only get in the way of people knowing the real rules and truth of the game.

Unfortunately, some walk away from the game and never get it. They never learn the rules either because of their frustration, the lack of explanation of the language to them by others, or because of their own indifference to learning the rules. Our worship services can be just as exclusive sometimes, with us unwilling to teach others the language necessarily to be involved, however it is also up to those people to make an attempt to learn the rules in order to participate.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

My Writing Experiment

Having become somewhat frustrated with unsuccessfully keeping forms of writing disciplines, I finally decided to do something a little more public to keep myself on track with writing. I've heard it said that writers simply write. They don't talk about writing, but simply do it without regards to initial quality or consistency. I've come up with an experiment to help me get into the habit of writing daily, and possibly come up with some good ideas along the way. The goal is to get myself to write at least 500 words each day (with some exceptions allowed). Check it out, read the full rules, and get ready for some random writing!

Tim's Writing Experiment

Our Prayers Have Been Answered

Over two years ago, I paid tribute to a friend of mine that I missed dearly, and still do. In that tribute, containing what may be the most comments on any one of my posts ever, someone wrote an additional comment that he should have a blog, for "it would be the most random and awesome blog in the world". The wait is over. Behold the blog of Rich Jandt.

The Adventures of Rich Jandt

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Shout to the Lord

I just saw the top eight on American Idol sing Shout to the Lord on TV. No really. All of them. Together. As one of their group songs.

For what usually amounts to being really cheesy, this one was actually pretty good. It's amazing that when you put a message into a song that has eternal significance how much more impact it has. I'm sure there were many uncomfortable people in the audience and watching who either thought there was no way the show could pull off something like this or who were just totally turned off, but after thinking about it I am only amazed at how our God demands a response and how our worship is only a response to what He has already done.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Emerging Motivation

Motivational posters for the postmodern Christian.

Emergent-See Po-Motivators

Saturday, March 29, 2008

The World's Oldest Sound Recordings

The world's oldest sound recording has been found. So technically, it's not a recording, but a French inventor Edouard-Leon Scott de Martinville invented the phonautograph, which creates a visual representation of soundwaves by using a device that used a needle that moved in response to sound, etching sound waves into paper coated with soot from an oil lamp.

The fascinating thing is that the vocal recording was made in 1860, 17 years before Edison invented the phonograph, but because we now have the technology, they have taken high resolution scans of the recordings, converted the soundwaves into audio files, and now, almost 150 years later, we can listen to what originally was never meant to be listened to. The audio is kinda creepy sounding, but it's almost 150 years old, so give the lady singing some slack. They have more that are even a few years older that they are working on turning into audio.

Read about it

Hear the audio

Monday, March 17, 2008

Chuck Norris The Only WMD In Iraq

For fun I was going to post one of the funniest websites in the world.

Chuck Norris Facts

I then came across this article that says that though American troops look up to Chuck Norris, so even do Iraqi troops.

Chuck Norris A Hero Even In Iraq

Enjoy and remember: There is no theory of evolution. Just a list of animals Chuck Norris allows to live.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Only One Source Of Hope

I usually choose not to get on many political topics on my blog. After seeing this poster on the television I just can't help myself. I have had many people ask me who I am voting for, and have heard many people get into political discussions. I usually use this as a chance to escape the conversation and avoid the topic completely, not for my own sake, but for what I feel is a chance not to offend. On my blog, however, I can choose my words more carefully and use as a place to edify and teach (myself included). Back on topic, I have had people ask me who I am voting for. While my wife has the wise explanation of not having the time to inform herself of the candidates and the issues, I have other explanations of why I am not voting this year, if ever again.

I have heard that it is our civic duty, our chance to implement change (Obama for change!), and our Christian opportunity to influence the world. Let me give a few reasons why I feel this may not be as important as we think it is. First, if we are Christians, our faithfulness should never be toward anything or anyone before God. Our duty to our family still comes second to God, though our faithfulness to God means being faithful to our family.

Too many of us rely on others to change the world, such as politicians, government agencies, Christian leaders and "official" ministers. As a disciple of the Christ and a servant of the living God, my ability to change anything has nothing to do with my power, but the power of the God I serve. Influencing the world does not happen with me checking a box. It comes when I serve the least of the people (Read Matt. 25). It is when I allow myself to be used by God to serve others when true change happens in myself and the rest of the world.

I have seen too many people become obsessed with these elections, putting their hope in a candidate, as the poster above shows, and this isn't me against one candidate. In fact Obama might be the change we need to realize that one man can't change the world, unless that man is Jesus Christ. Too many people buy into one person's promises to create change, when change comes from our own actions by the power of the Lord our God. This is why I am choosing not to vote, and I've got some other reasons, but since I can't post without doing some sort of Photoshop work, I thought this might bring home the point. I know I just opened a can of worms by talking politics, but Jesus took on politics every now and then, and I can argue that this easily becomes a worship issue when we rally behind a candidate more than we put forth the effort to rally behind Jesus Christ.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Bye Bye Bibby

After seven seasons with the Sacramento Kings, Mike Bibby has been traded for four players. Bibby led the Kings in the 2002 Conference Championships, and if it weren't for Robert Horry, they would have taken it all. You figure a four-for-one trade has to be pretty good right? I think everybody wins in this trade.

Mike Bibby Traded to Atlanta Hawks

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Kori Lewis Images - Online Ordering!

Online ordering is up and running for Kori's photographs. The buttons look a little funky, but they work. We aren't really expecting to get rich by selling these, but we've got quite a few of these pictures hanging on our walls, and they look great. Frame them as an 8x10 or mat them in a larger frame to add a touch of art to your home.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Music & Noise

Our culture tells us that there is nothing wrong with buying what we don't need, and in this country many people can get pretty much whatever they want. I believe that this also includes our religion. I have experienced too many people with the badge of "Christian" where religion is simply another addition to the many things that have been bought and thrown into a garage, like the fake Christmas tree or the bike with the flat tire, to be brought out when the season is appropriate or when it crosses our minds. I must say I have been guilty of this at times. Instead of God being the center of our lives, He is one of the many things that grabs our attention at any given time.

I see this as the difference between music and noise. With music, you have many different parts playing simultaneously, but following a certain key signature, rhythm, and tempo it comes out as one whole song. With noise, nothing works together, for each part has its own rules that do not rely on the input from other sounds. When our lives are musical, the many parts (work, family, spending habits, how we react to the guy who cuts us off in traffic, etc.) are all in harmony with each other, with God providing the tempo, key, and time to everything we do. With nothing directing what the many sounds do, there can be no music. Our lives become cacophonous.

I think it is somewhat easy to hear noise in people's lives, when God is not at the center, but in our noisy culture we have become tone-deaf. We think that simply adding religion to the noise makes it instantly harmonious. All we have done is added to the noise. It is only when God directs all parts of our lives that everything will work together to form a beautiful song. My encouragement is for us to let all parts of our lives follow the true Conductor.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Page 123

I got tagged by Mike. I don't know if it's supposed to be funny or thought provoking, but I'll play along.

Pick up the nearest book of 123 pages or more.
Find Page 123.
Find the first 5 sentences.
Post the next 3 sentences (in other words start posting at sentence #6).
Tag 5 people.


From The Lord of the Rings:

The floor was flagged, and strewn with fresh green rushes.

There were four deep mattresses, each piled with white blankets, laid on the floor along one side.

Against the opposite wall was a long bench laden with wide earthenware basins, and beside it stood brown ewers filled with water, some cold, some steaming hot.
I tag Jason, Dwayne, Studyhound, Rebecca Marie, and my beautiful bride Kori.

Monday, January 28, 2008

A Great Photographer

One of those things that I have been meaning to do for a long time is to set up a website where my wife can display her photographs, and maybe even sell them to make that extra little money for retirement or for other opportunities. Well I've finally gotten around to beginning the process. Eventually we'll get it set up for online orders, but for now it's simply there to show off her pictures. I suppose that time I spent working in the photo lab paid off. All she has to do is take the pictures and give them to me to make them look even better. I have to admit, however, for many of them I didn't do much of anything to them.

Kori Lewis Images

I will be updating it continually with her existing photographs and those to come as she takes them.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

What Worship Isn't

In my last post I mentioned some of the things I've been meaning to do but haven't gotten around to doing. One of those things I mentioned was writing a book. Well, I've had an idea for a book (actually two) on worship. I feel like I have been called by God to lead others in worship, and because of what I believe worship is, that means more than being a song leader on Sunday mornings. To truly be a worship leader I must dedicate my efforts in teaching others what worship is, and I think that writing can be a useful tool in doing that. I hope that others will help me shape my thoughts in order for them to more effective in teaching others. Feel free to give opinions, criticisms, and additions to what you read here. There will be plenty more to come.

We live in a culture that is very postmodern and deconstructionist in its thinking. It tears things apart and breaks them down in order to analyze them. After breaking things apart, however, it then has nothing to offer in the form of solutions or positive messages. Though in itself this sort of philosophy has little to offer, it can still be a good starting point for analysis as long as you move forward from there onto the construction of useful solutions and analysis. In learning and teaching what worship is, it may prove helpful to begin by pointing out what worship is not. Here are a few things I am learning what worship is not.

Worship is not just music. While singing and playing songs can be considered worship based upon the subject of the song and the heart of the singer, music is not necessarily worship. Simply singing a song about God does not make it worship. The song must be an outpouring of the heart for it to truly be worship. Worship is also not primarily or solely music. If worship were only music, some people would have an advantage to worship based upon talent, and some others would be at a disadvantage. All people are invited to be a part of the body, but our worship comes from suffering and sacrifice, not from doing one thing correctly. (Romans 12)

We cannot worship more than one thing. The first commandment given to Moses in Exodus 20 is "You shall have no other gods before me." God does not share our worship with other things and other gods. When it comes to worshiping God, we also cannot turn our worship on and off. When we leave the assembly on Sunday afternoon, we do not cease to worship. Either we continue to worship God, or we turn our worship to other gods. It does not simply stop.

Worship does not happen without our devotion. What we devote our time, money, efforts, and suffering to is what we consider worthy of worship. The outpouring of these things from our heart shows where our devotion is and who or what we worship (James 2). As an example however, this does not mean that going to our job means that we are devoted to the money more than God. Going to a job means supporting family, giving to the church, and providing services. When it becomes the object of our worship is when we cease to place God above everything else.

These are just a few ideas for a small section of an early chapter that I am sketching out, so please give your thoughts and suggestions on the content. I felt like this would be a good place to start, but have much more to say in constructing good teachings in the following chapters, moving forward from just tearing down bad teachings. A later chapter based upon music would help provide solutions to discerning good teaching on worship in our music. Also keep in mind that these blog posts are and will be rough first drafts with little to no editing done on them.

Monday, January 14, 2008

New Things

In one week I will be starting my new job doing graphics for a local nursery. I'll be making all their signs and web maintenance and I am looking forward to it. Though my job at the photo lab has been pretty good to me the past year and a half, especially with all the overtime work, it is time to move forward.

Since this is the new year, it's a perfect time to begin new things, so I am making the effort to write more on my blog (look at how many posts I have last year compared to the previous ones), but I also want to use this as a chance to begin some of those projects I have put off for so long. The recording, the website for my wife's pictures, and the book that is bubbling over in my brain waiting to get out, they all have been put off for too long, and something needs to be done on all of them that won't get done unless I do it.

I hope you'll keep me accountable for getting some of these things done, but I also will be posting some things that I will hope to get some feedback on from people who read my blog regularly. I pray your holiday craziness is over. It's time to get to work!

Friday, January 04, 2008

Cool Gadgets

Most people who know me know that I like cool gadgets. Most people who know me know that I also like music. Most of those same people also know I like recording music. Ever since I got my ipod I have been filling it with tons of music, videos, podcasts, and all sorts of audio goodness. I have used it for church services and functions, and my wife uses it when she runs on the treadmill. Well, I have found a couple of ipod "accessories" (used loosely, because one of them costs more than the ipod itself) that would allow me to partake in activities that I enjoy in new ways.

One of these is the Belkin TuneTalk, which has two omnidirectional microphones that records CD quality audio directly to your ipod. If I were to ever start a podcast, this is something I would insist on getting for myself, for recording interviews, personal notes, and to take my recording anywhere (it has an audio insert as well). I have heard other podcasters use this (including a recording podcast) and the quality is great, and for the price ($70), it can't be beat.

The other gadget is the real reason I am writing this blog post, though the one I am much less likely to get. It is the Belkin TuneStudio (this isn't a Belkin commercial), which allows you to record four-channel audio, complete with channel mixers, 3-band EQ, phantom powered XLR inputs, instrument inputs and stereo compression to keep the audio within limits for the ipod. It also has built-in USB to stream the audio (16-bit 44kHz) to your computer. At $400, the price is sort of a turn-off, but with the features it has, it's understandable why it costs so much. (update: $196.47 on Amazon.com...not bad!)

So there you are. If you're looking for something to get me next Christmas, there's two ideas in two different price ranges. For now I'm going to play with a present from this year. It's an ipod boombox with a video output. Now I just have to figure out how to get my DVDs onto the ipod so I can play them anywhere.