Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Reformation Day

On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses on the door of the church. He was upset at some of the things going on in the church and wanted to discuss and debate topics such as indulgences, good works, repentance, etc. I don't think Luther had any idea of what would be set off from posting the 95 Theses! But he got back to the basic truth of God's Word that people had strayed from--that we are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. It's a truth many people sadly still do not believe. But I thank God everyday that it is all about His grace and nothing I do!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


If I could only have one food (perish the thought!) it would be enchiladas. Though I love so many kinds of food, I would pick this as my favorite food. I still think the best enchiladas are at the restaurant El Cortez located in the south suburbs of Chicago. They have various kinds of enchiladas--poblano, suiza, querantana, etc.--these are all good.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Pastor E. and Lois

Pastor E., who I sometimes affectionately refer to as "Chief," is senior pastor of the church I serve. I remember when I first got a letter from him before I started serving there, he said as senior pastor he was cheerleader to the rest of the staff. And it has been true. Since over 7 years ago when I came to my church, he has been encouraging and supportive. It's such a positive team thing we have going at church! I think a lot of pastors are threatened by women who serve in the church, even if it is in an auxiliary office. But there is none of that at my church. We all know our roles, and respect each other. I have fun memories of Pastor E. like when I was visiting down here before I actually started at the church. I really wanted to see the Arch, so Pastor took my mom and I there and to the floating McDonalds. And there are lots of memories of serving together, sometimes dealing with very difficult situations. I am always impressed with how well Pastor deals with these situations with calmness and compassion. Then he always makes sure I am taking care of myself after dealing with these challenging situations. He has a special gift of dealing with crisis situations. He faithfully proclaims God's Word and is a man of great vision. He has taught me a lot these past 7 years. One thing he said that always sticks with me is how he prays each day that God would guide him to do the most important things for that day. I remember this when I'm freaking out about not getting done everything I wanted to! It has been a joy to serve with Pastor E. I am very thankful to have such a great pastor to work with. His wife Lois is such a wonderful person too, very kind and humble.

"A Mighty Fortress is Our God"

A mighty fortress is our God,
A trusty shield and weapon;
He helps us free from ev'ry need
That hath us now o'ertaken.
The old evil foe
Now means deadly woe;
Deep guile and great might
Are his dread arms in fight;
On earth is not his equal.

With might of ours can naught be done,
Soon were our loss effected;
But for us fights the valiant One,
Whom God Himself elected.
Ask ye, Who is this?
Jesus Christ it is,
Of Sabaoth Lord,
And there's none other God;
He holds the field forever.

Though devils all the world should fill,
All eager to devour us,
We tremble not, we fear no ill;
They shall not overpow'r us.
This world's prince may still
Scowl fierce as he will,
He can harm us none,
He's judged; the deed is done;
One little world can fell him.

The Word they still shall let remain
Nor any thanks have for it;
He's by our side upon the plain
With His good gifts and Spirit.
And take they our life,
Goods, fame, child, and wife,
Though these all be gone,
Our vict'ry has been won;
The Kingdom ours remaineth.


A mighty fortress is our God,
A sword and shield victorious;
He breaks the cruel oppressor's rod
And wins salvation glorious.
The old satanic foe
Has sworn to work us woe.
With craft and dreadful might
He arms himself to fight.
On earth he has no equal.

No strength of ours can match his might.
We would be lost, rejected.
But now a champion comes to fight,
Whom God Himself elected.
You ask who this may be?
The Lord of hosts is He,
Christ Jesus, mighty Lord,
God's only Son adored.
He holds the field victorious.

Though hordes of devils fill the land
All threat'ning to devour us,
We tremble not, unmoved we stand;
They cannot overpow'r us.
Let this world's tyrant rage;
In battle we'll engage.
His might is doomed to fail;
God's judgment must prevail!
One little word subdues him.

God's Word forever shall abide,
No thanks to foes, who fear it;
For God Himself fights by our side
With weapons of the Spirit.
Were they to take our house,
Goods honor, child, or spouse,
Though life be wrenched away,
They cannot win the day.
The Kingdom's ours forever!

Text and Tune: Martin Luther

Such an awesome, awesome hymn! Luther based this hymn on Psalm 46 and it is sometimes called the "Battle Hymn of the Reformation." It has been translated a lot, and I like both the versions I posted here. In the second version I think the wording v. 4 is powerful where it says that though life be wrenched away, our enemies cannot win because the Kingdom is ours forever. But I like the wording of v. 4 in the first version where it says, "He's by our side upon the plain with His good gifts and Spirit." There is so much comfort here, and the music too is powerful. I love singing this hymn with gusto!

Psalm 46

1 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. Selah

4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells.
5 God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.
6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
7 The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah

8 Come and see the works of the LORD, the desolations he has brought on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear, he burns the shields with fire.
10 "Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth."
11 The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah

Such a great Psalm! I share this often with the people I visit. It is so reassuring to have that promise that God is our refuge and strength. Sometimes we can feel so weak and helpless. And we are! But God is with us always and is our fortress. I often think how hard it is for us to be still. We want to be doing, we want to rely on our own strength or works. And when we are reminded once again our works and strength are nothing, it is hard, but very good for us. For then we rely totally on God's strength.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Butterfly Effect

Movies like this that play with time are fascinating to me. The main character realizes that when he's not happy with how certain things in life have turned out, and he can go back in time and redo a certain thing, making one change sets off a completely different chain of events, often with terrible results. Another movie poster for The Butterfly Effect had on it, "Change One Thing. Change Everything." It is interesting to ponder how in life one thing effects another effects another effects another. Very engaging and interesting movie.

Pastoral Care Under the Cross by Richard C. Eyer

This is such a fabulous book on pastoral care. Eyer lays out what it means to care for someone, to suffer alongside a person and help that person see God in the midst of suffering. He speaks so well of the theology of the cross here.

A passage that really conveys well what the book is about: "The goal of pastoral care under the cross is not to try to eliminate suffering but to point the parishioner to God in the midst of suffering. Others have as their task the elimination of suffering, up to a point...Pastoral care, on the other hand, is concerned with the presence of God in the midst of suffering. It concerns itself with helping the suffering parishioner to see God there. The posture of kneeling at the foot of the cross enables us to see God at work in suffering. Ironically, our helplessness makes it possible to see God...Jesus experienced apparent defeat and the feeling of helplessness, and we call it Good Friday. Suffering puts us at the foot of the cross, beside parishioners, where together both sufferers discover the meaning of the cross and the peace that does 'pass all human understanding.' Defeat is the way of the cross, but ironically, defeat acknowledged in faith becomes victory." (p. 33)

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Peace Like a River: The Hymns Project --Chris Rice

Chris Rice's album Peace Like a River: The Hymns Project is awesome. He does great arrangements of some great hymns. It is very piano driven, which I love. My favs on here are "Rock of Ages" and "A Mighty Fortress."

To listen to some samples, go here:


I met Caryn when we were students at Concordia University. What I have always liked about Caryn is the enthusiasm and positive energy she has. We have fun hanging out together, and share a lot of common interests such as love of music, movies, books, theology, etc. It is fun to talk with Caryn about various issues. She is an intelligent person, and I enjoy hearing her opinion on things. I am really glad that years after being at college together, we ended up living in the same town! Oh, and I really respect her for her ability to change flat tires!!


I love playing darts. I'm not a great dart thrower or anything, but I have a dartboard in my house, and when friends come over, I love playing. There are many games that can be played, but Cricket is my favorite. Throwing darts definitely brings out my competitive side!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Uncle Buck

This is a great movie to watch when you're in the mood for something light hearted and fun. John Candy was very talented, and this is a great role for him. Uncle Buck comes to take care of his nieces and nephew when his sister in law's father has a heart attack, and she and Buck's brother have to leave town. Buck tries to figure out how take care of the kids and manage household tasks often with humorous results. It is a cute film with some parts that really crack me up.

Isaiah 41:13

13 For I am the LORD, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.

I have shared this passage with many people, and it continues to be of great comfort to me personally as well. Such a powerful image is given of God's presence, "God with us." Sometimes we can feel so overwhelmed, beaten down, discouraged, hopeless, etc., but the LORD is always right there with us with His promise to help us. We may not always know how we are going to get through something, but we can know with certainty God is with us always; we are never alone.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Autumn Leaves

Seeing the beautiful colored leaves in autumn is another reminder of what an awesome Creator God is! The year I was up in MN was really awesome--it was so beautiful in the fall.

"Rock of Ages, Cleft for Me"

Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee;
Let the water and the blood,
From Thy riven side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure:
Cleanse me from its guilt and pow'r.

Not the labors of my hands
Can fulfill Thy Law's demands;
Could my zeal no respite know,
Could my tears forever flow,
All for sin could not atone;
Thou must save, and Thou alone.

Nothing in my hand I bring;
Simply to Thy cross I cling.
Naked, come to Thee for dress;
Helpless, look to Thee for grace;
Foul, I to the fountain fly;
Wash me, Savior, or I die.

While I draw this fleeting breath,
When mine eyelids close in death,
When I soar to worlds unknown,
See Thee on Thy judgment throne,
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee.

Text: Augustus M. Toplady
Tune: Thomas Hastings

I've been listening to this hymn a lot lately. I love how it states so clearly that we cannot keep the Law and our works count for nothing. We are saved only by His grace.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Still Standing

I only in the last year got into this show as it has been shown in reruns on Lifetime every day. It really cracks me up. It's about a working class couple in Chicago raising their 3 kids. The parents may seem a little crass or not the warm fuzzy time parents, but they do love their kids.
I like the last episode "Still Graduating" a lot.

Another favorite episode is "Still Our Kids." The Millers are Cubs fans, and find out their son's boss is a White Sox fan.

Bill: The Cubs stand for everything good and wholesome in Chicago.
(Judy comes in and Bill proceeds to tell her about Brian's boss being a White Sox fan).
Judy: What kind of person would choose to live like that?
(They then talk about how the boss is corrupting their son).

This Cubs fan loves that whole bit!

Sally Struthers is awesome as Bill's manipulative mom Louise.

What About Bob?

This 1991 comedy has Bill Murray as Bob, a phobic obsessive compulsive guy who ends up being the patient of psychiatrist Dr. Leo Marvin, played by Richard Dreyfuss. Bob latches on to Leo, tracks down where Leo is vacationing and won't leave. He endears himself to Leo's family, and drives Leo nuts in the process. The actors do a great job.

"I feel good, I feel great, I feel wonderful. I feel good, I feel great, I feel wonderful."

"I'm taking a vacation--from my problems."

Monday, October 22, 2007

Miracle Quote--Albert Einstein

"There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle." --Albert Einstein


Tiramisu is an Italian dessert typically made from sponge finger biscuits, espresso coffee, mascarpone cheese, eggs, cream, sugar, Marsala wine, coca, and rum. According to Wikipedia, The Italian name tiramisu means "pick me up" (metaphorically, "make me happy"). Incredibly yummy!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Isaiah 55:8-9

8For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. 9For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

This has been going through my head a lot lately. We often wonder why things happen the way they do. Often things don't make sense to us in this fallen world. At the time of writing this the secretary of my church is critically ill. She is only in her 30s with a husband and little girl. It's easy to start questioning why something like this would happen. But whys get us nowhere. We can't know why. We understand things with only a limited human perspective. As the Scripture says, God's thoughts are not our thoughts, our ways are not His ways. His ways and thoughts are higher than ours. So by faith we trust in God when life and situations don't make sense, especially when they don't make sense. We trust in His promises to us and know that He is loving and good and in control of all things. So I derive a lot of comfort from this Scripture. And I remember the better question to ask instead of "Why?" is "Where is God in all of this?" And the answer of course is He's right there where He always is--with us in our suffering, in our pain, in our questions, and in our confusion. He who suffered for us is with us always.

The Birds

Another Hitchcock classic. Hitchcock referred to it as possibly the most terrifying motion picture he had made. I don't think I would call it terrifying, but it is creepy. I mean, what's up with those birds anyway?! There is not a real ending per se; Hitchcock did not want "The End" at the end of the movie--he wanted it to be left up in the air about these birds and if the attacks would continue and what the cause of the strange and violent behavior of the birds was. My favorite scene in the movie is Melanie at the school. The kids are inside singing a song, and she goes outside and sits on a bench. There is a bird on the playground equipment. Melanie smokes a cigarette, and is oblivious that all these birds have come until she sees one flying overhead and turns and watches it land on the playground equipment now covered with crows.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

"Somebody's Crying" Chris Issak

Somebody's Crying
By Chris Isaak
Best Video Codes
I remember when I first heard this song. I was in Chicago in some studio to do something with a film project (this was back in my film school days in the 90s). I heard it on the radio and thought it was cool, and I tracked down who sang the song. I think it's the only song I listen to off that Chris Issak CD, but I really dig it!

Our Refuge and Our Strength by Morgan Weistling

Weistling says of his painting, "This painting depicts one of my favorite passages from the life of Christ. I wanted to give the viewer Peter's point of view, as though we were struggling in the water with him. And like Peter, we come to the realization that Christ is there to save us, as He always is, suggested by the light breaking through the turbulent clouds above the rest of the disciples."

I have always liked the account of Jesus walking on water in Matthew 14, and Weistling in his painting, captures this so well. As soon as Peter starts focusing on the storm around him rather than on Christ, he becomes afraid and sinks. But Jesus immediately reaches out and catches him. It is the same with us; we often focus on the storms in our life more than on Christ. Our fears take over. But Christ is where He always is--right there to grab hold of us and save us, undeserving as we are. Such a powerful image!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Anchor Bar

The Anchor Bar, located in Buffalo, New York, as the sign indicates is home of Buffalo Chicken wings. You can read the story here: The food here is great. Awesome wings (of course), and the Beef on Weck is good as well. Cool place!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Beef on Weck

This is a popular sandwich served in the Buffalo, NY area. Weck is short for kimmelweck or kummelweck, which is a roll similar to a Kaiswer roll, but it is topped with salt and caraway seeds. Roast beef is on this sandwich and it is often served with horseradish (or at some places gravy). It is really good! When I was in the Buffalo area, I had a few of these at different restaurants. They were all a little different from each other, but all were excellent.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Ice Wine (Niagara)--Sparkling Ponds

From the Sparkling Ponds website, "Sparkling Ponds premier offering. Sweet and delicious, our ice wine is a perfect accompaniment to dessert."

This is good stuff if you like a sweet wine. A little pricey (well on a church worker's salary anyway!), but very excellent. Ice wine is produced from grapes that have been frozen while still on the vine. The sugars and other dissolved solids do not freeze, but the water does, so the result is a concentrated, often very sweet wine.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Niagara Falls, New York and Canada

Seeing Niagara Falls was such an incredible experience! It is breathtaking, and a powerful reminder of what an awesome Creator we have! Seriously, how can someone see something like this and not think there is a Creator?! It was really cool to see it from the U.S. side and the Canada side. I got to ride on the boat, the Maid of the Mist, and go up on a Ferris Wheel that overlooks this. Very cool to see Niagara Falls from different perspectives. I took the picture on top, and the one below it was one I found online.

"The Road" Matt Costa

I heard "The Road" on the coffeehouse radio station on Sirius Satellite Radio, and I just loved it. I'm really digging that acoustic style lately. This song is apparently on some surfing movie soundtrack A Brokedown Melody. If there are issues with the video, you can check out an audio clip here: Sample

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Pad Thai

Pad Thai is is a dish of stir-fried rice noodles with eggs, fish sauce, tamarind juice, red chili pepper, plus any combination of bean sprouts, shrimp, chicken or tofu, garnished with crushed peanuts and coriander. It is normally served with a piece of lime, the juice of which can be added along with the usual Thai condiments. This is my favorite Thai dish. And Thai food is one of my favorite kinds of food.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

"Everyday" Dave Matthews Band

By Dave Matthews Band
Best Video Codes
This was the song that got me into Dave Matthews Band. It was fun and catchy, and I found myself singing it a lot. "Pick me up love. Pick me up love. Everyday."
And the guy in the video hugging everyone. Hey, that's cool. I'm all about the hugs.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

"My Hope is Built on Nothing Less"

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus' blood and righteousness;
No merit of my own I claim
But wholly lean on Jesus' name.
On Christ, the solid rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

When darkness veils His lovely face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In ev'ry high and stormy gale
My anchor holds within the veil.
On Christ, the solid rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

His oath, His covenant and blood
Support me in the raging flood;
When ev'ry earthly prop gives way,
He then is all my hope and stay.
On Christ, the solid rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh, may I then in Him be found,
Clothed in His righteousness alone,
Redeemed to stand before His throne!
On Christ, the solid rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

Text: Edward Mote
Tune: John Stainer or William B. Bradbury

I have been thinking about this hymn a lot. It's all about His grace, and how we can do nothing. Verse 4 especially always fills me with excitement and joy. I grew up knowing one melody, but in recent years learned a different tune to this hymn. I like both.

North by Northwest

This is one of my favorite Alfred Hitchcock films. It's basically about mistaken identity and things and people not being what they seem to be. Cary Grant is just so great in this movie--the way he dryly delivers his lines. Interestingly, he was not originally cast to be the lead; Jimmy Stewart was, but after the poor box office performance of Vertigo, Grant was cast in the role. This film has some famous scenes--the crop duster scene and the Mt. Rushmore scenes.

Monday, October 8, 2007

One-Way Colour Tunnel by Olafur Eliasson

This is a tunnel made up of light-shattering translucent and reflective triangular panels of coated acrylic, resembling a walkway of stained glass. It can appear monochromatic from one angle or multi-colored from another angle. This is at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art --I wish I could see it in person. I've just started to find out about Eliasson's stuff. He is a Danish artist who does some interesting playing around with colors and with lenses and mirrors and so on.


I met Abigail in 1996. We were both studying film at Columbia College Chicago and had a Composition and Optics class together. I guess somehow we started talking and we ended up working on an assignment together. That was the semester my dad had his health problems, and I ended up deciding to drop my classes and not stick with film. But we stayed friends and that year began our tradition of hanging out at Taste of Chicago. Every year since '96 we have met up at Taste for a day of talking, laughing, and eating. It is a great tradition! At times that has been the only time during the year we've seen each other, but it's been nice when we've gotten together other times too in the city and gone to Navy Pier, Water Tower, Ghiradelli's, museums, etc. Abigail is so much fun to spend time with--she has such an awesome sense of humor. We just end up laughing at various situations and things. She is also a very creative person.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Party of Five

I love this show which aired for 6 years starting in 1994. The show was about the Salinger family whose parents had been killed by a drunk driver. They faced a lot of things in addition to their parents' death--everything from alcoholism to cancer to various relationship woes. Some people were critical of the show saying there was just so much tragedy and drama. But hey, such tragedy is part of life in our fallen world; this stuff really happens to families. What I like about this show is that it was ultimately about this family sticking together no matter what. Sometimes they fought, but in the end they supported each other and loved each other and got through stuff together. And it was interesting to see how each of the characters grew throughout the course of the show, especially Charlie, the oldest sibling who was responsible for taking care of his younger brothers and sisters after their parents' death. This show had a great cast and interesting story lines. Great drama!

2 Timothy 4:7-8

7I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

I have liked this passage for quite some time, and when I die want this to be the text for my funeral sermon. I mean, I can't imagine anything better to have said at the end of a Christian's life. Though that first verse has a lot of "I's" in it, it all points to God's work. The Holy Spirit gives and strengthens that faith throughout our life. Christ is with us all through our life to fight the good fight, and of course He won the fight against sin, death, and the power of the devil. Victory is ours only through Him. And receiving that crown of righteousness--what an awesome thought!

Saturday, October 6, 2007

PayDay Chocolatey Avalanche

This may be my favorite candy bar. The PayDay Candy Bar (peanuts around a center of caramel) is great. But a PayDay covered in chocolate--awesome! The Chocolate PayDay was around in the 80s, but it was a limited edition. I was so bummed when suddenly they were gone, and I always looked at different stores to see if they had any. But the Chocolate Payday made a return which made me very excited. Good stuff!


Kathy came to serve as music director at my church several years ago. She is an incredibly talented music director, and has done some awesome things in worship. We have had a lot of fun going out to lunch and chatting, and occasionally we would do our Galleria trips--eat at Cheesecake Factory there, then look around at the shops, and maybe go to World Market and Trader Joe's after that. We always have fun. Kathy is such a generous and kind person. I am really sad she is moving to NC (due to her husband's job). I am going to greatly miss her musical talent in church and our fun times hanging out. I hope she will come visit!


Pierogis are semi-circular dumplings of unleavened dough stuffed with cheese or potatoes or onion or meat or a number of other things. They can be fried or boiled. I think I first tried these at Taste of Chicago one year. I buy them frozen and eat them pretty often--it is a quick and easy meal. They are delicious. Though I read they are untraceable in origin, the pierogi is a popular Polish food.

Friday, October 5, 2007

"It Is What It Is"

I find myself saying "It Is What It Is" a lot lately. I don't know how I came to start using that expression all the time, but I guess sometimes (especially at this particular time in my life) I feel it's the best way to express how I feel when something has happened that I might not be totally happy with or something has disappointed me or wasn't exactly what I expected. We humans often lament about something not going the way we want or a situation or event not being to our liking. And man, we can waste a lot of energy getting worked up over it, complaining about it. And really what's the point of that--most of the time something's happened and you can't change it, or something is out of your control. So I guess, "It Is What It Is" to me is kind of a statement of acceptance and moving on and not getting dragged down by something. Life's too short for that, man!

"I'm for You" tobyMac

I always liked DC Talk--they had a lot of good songs. The guys kind of all went their own way with solo careers. I really like some of tobyMac's stuff--I think he has a unique style. The song "I'm for You" from the album Portable Sounds is one of my favorite of tobyMac's. It's just a good friendshippy, caring, there for you song.

"Whatever I gotta be, I'll be for you. Whatever you need from me to see ya through. Whatever I gotta be, I'll be for you. I'm for you. I'm for you."

Take a listen: