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Saturday, September 08, 2012

Little Stinker

(A picture is worth a thousand words, sometimes more. Between the 4th and 5th pictures I turned off the flash, so he couldn't see it coming!)

Monday, September 03, 2012

3 Pictures

My Wednesday night Bible study group is resuming this week after a summer hiatus, and our homework is to present 3 photos of our summer adventures. I chose these three, but was unable to email them because they were too large.  Rather than editing them down, I'm posting them here. And because I'm not good at counting I put in 4.  I guess we can drop the one of Quinten in my hat, Joe.  I know he's looking really adorable, but he's in that last fountain shot as well.  If you don't want any spoilers for Wednesday, you should stop reading here.

Both fountain and hat shots are to represent the miserable heat we lived with all summer.  The small parrot was one time I took the kids out to an animal cafe.  Lots of time with the kids this summer.  And me trying to cover up the naughty bits of that brass bass relief is from English camp. I took very few pictures, and that was one of the most entertaining of the lot.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The End of Summer "Vacation"

I put vacation in parenthesis because I've worked every day of the four weeks that comprise this particular summer vacation.  As usual, food seems to play a big part.  Maxine loves going to the cake-decorating place, where you buy a cake and decorate it.  Almost too much adorable for one picture.
 The two of us went out for a late afternoon that included Japanese Octopus Spheres, which Maxine did not enjoy nearly as much as it looks like in this photo.  They are basically a little wheat flour and octopus fritter, with a savory sauce that is Worcestershirey and shavings of some dried fish that taste better than they sound.  I enjoy this relatively recent addition to Korean street food, even when prepared and eaten in the basement food court of Shinsegae Department Store.
 Last week Horyon's mother made a Vietnamese dinner that I have been unable to hunt down a name for, in spite of spending literally minutes looking on the internet.  It is a sort of make-your-own spring roll buffet, with julienned veggies (red and yellow bell peppers, cucumber, carrot, cabbage, onion, sauteed mushroom), fruits (pineapple, apple, peach and cherry tomato) meats (shrimp, Korean style cooked pork, snail), cooked Vietnamese rice vermicelli, fried egg white strips and fried egg yolk strips, and two or three kinds of fresh, raw bean sprouts.  You first dip the rice paper squares into hot water.  They start out stiff, like an x-ray sheet, but quickly get floppy after being dipped in the water.  Place it on your plate, then pile up whatever ingredients you like, topping them with sweet chili sauce.  The thick, tasty, fun-making spicy one, or the more watery, vinegary one.  By this time, your rice paper is rubbery and sticky, and doesn't seem like something you would voluntarily eat, but it sticks to itself well enough to burrito-ize your stuff without needing any other adhesives.  Then pop the whole thing into your mouth (oops, should have mentioned that before you started piling stuff on.  Sorry.).  Don't even try to take a bit of it, because the whole thing will fall apart and you'll mess up your shirt.  This is why we can't go to nice restaurants, you know.  For me, the major triumph of the evening was remembering to take a picture BEFORE we decimated the spread.
 Another in my "Seen While Biking" series, in fact taken on the same day as the Water-Bike Guys, this lovely couple was having their wedding photos taken by the sea.  It was actually a nice day for it, luckily for them.  They had probably had it on their calendar for months.  The wind even cooperated in blowing that silly veil in a most romantic fashion.
 Horyon's father took me and the kids to the fountain in their apartment complex, where the kids and I splashed around for a bit.
  Later Horyon asked how clean I thought that water was.  You know, there are some things we are probably better off not thinking about.  With temperatures in the high 90's, I hope for our sake that they were pulling fresh water from the tap rather than recycling it for this fountain, or that if they do recycle that they have some pretty good filters in the system, but I'm not really feeling very optimistic on this one.
 Our church has had half a dozen babies born in the past six months, and Maxine has enjoyed holding all of them.  Here she is with Trip, a.k.a. John Harrison III.  So far she has not dropped a single baby!  I think she's ready to babysit!
 Here is a photo of Horyon and Quinten walking down the hill from our church, ICC, which meets on the campus of Busan University of Foreign Studies.  We walk down this hill most Sundays, and I thought I'd share the view with all of you.
 This is, I believe, the secret entrance to the undercity.  I need to go back and take more pictures so you can see the locked chainlink fence and gate at the bottom.
Or it might be the secret entrance to the new apartments going up in the background.
Or it could be an old underground street crossing that has been closed up because too many vagrants were sleeping there and kids were going there to smoke and make out.  Who knows.

Anyway, my apologies for not being a more regular poster.  I know that many people don't see what my kids look like outside of the Roblog, and people who love us have no idea what is going on in our lives.  Frankly, there are times when I am not sure what is going on in our lives.  It's all happening so quickly:  Quinten is talking more coherently and hasn't worn diapers in more than a month.  Maxine is starting at a new school in September.  Horyon is very happy teaching at her old high school.  And I love certain aspects of my job.  Which is not to say that I am excited to go back to work next Monday, but a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do.

And I have to put together next week's lesson plans and a sermon for this Sunday.  So I hope you all have a nice whatever time of day you are in the middle of.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Pedal Boat -- Water Bike

As I was biking the other day, I passed some guys getting ready to put their projects in the water.  They were from Busan National University, and they were all in the Water Bike Club. Getting the bike over the fence was the trickiest bit.  I even took a little video. If they get going fast enough, they hydroplane on the wings down at the propeller level. They could only keep that speed up for about 20 seconds at a time. I found myself wondering how soon I'd be able to buy one of these, and asked about the weight restrictions.  They're running a couple of guys who weigh less together than I do by myself.  Sigh.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Afternoon with Daddy

We visited an animal cafe. I felt sorry for the groundhogs; they kept trying to dig their way out. Then we saw the Blues Brothers.
"Can we get a guinea pig?" -- "No."
 How about a parrot?

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Jonah Chapter 4

Here is the written text of the sermon I presented today.  Some of it is recycled from the last time I preached on Jonah, and of course my presentation was somewhat different because I look up a lot, get lost, and add stuff as the Spirit moves me.  And the written text doesn't necessarily predict when people will laugh.  Enjoy!

God Provided a Worm
Jonah 4
Do you ever wish that God would just talk directly to you, with a voice as clear as that of the person sitting net to you?  I know I have. Jonah’s testimony makes it clear that even when God is talking directly to people, our own sinful nature gets in the way. As Jesus says in the parable of Lazarus and the rich man (Luke 16:31) “If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.” In Exodus God’s people Israel saw God by day as a pillar of smoke and by night as a pillar of fire, they ate manna directly from God’s hand, and saw God’s hand punish the people of Egypt, yet they turned away. If you’re having trouble listening to God, don’t try to blame it on God’s method of talking to you, think of Jonah.
I’ve been reading through the book of Jonah quite a bit in the past few months, and this is the second time I’ve prepared a sermon on chapter four, though the last time I focused on just a few verses. I would like to share with you a few themes that have offered themselves to me during this time:  Jonah’s Anger and God’s Compassion, God’s Provision and Our Needs, and the Call to Repentance.
But first, here is the Reader’s Digest version of the first three chapters: Chapter 1--God calls Jonah to preach against Nineveh, but Jonah runs away.  He gets on a boat to Tarshish.  The boat runs into a terrible storm, Jonah confesses to being the cause and asks to be thrown overboard.  When he is, the sea grows calm, and God provides a great fish to swallow Jonah.  Chapter 2--In the fish, Jonah prays about and for God’s mercy, and the fish spews him up.  Chapter 3--Jonah, not being a complete idiot, goes to Nineveh and preaches that God’s judgment is coming. The people of Nineveh, from the king to the guy who cleans the stables, repent, put on uncomfortable clothes, stop eating, and call on God for mercy. So God has compassion on them.
1.  And so God’s Compassion brings us directly to Jonah’s anger.
One way that we can use the Bible is to imagine ourselves in the same situation as the people we read about.  Because after all, they are just regular people who have been touched by God. Like us.
We left off last week at the end of Chapter 3, with God having Compassion on the city of Nineveh, and the result in Chapter 4, verse 1, is that Jonah is angry with this decision. Very angry. The literal translation of this verse is that the decision was evil to him, and it burned to him. I don’t think “pissed off” is a strong enough expression for his anger. This is in direct contrast with the mercy God has shown to Nineveh.
While I was growing up, I had the idea that Jonah ran away because he was afraid of the Ninevites, maybe afraid of being killed.  That’s a comforting motivation.  We all have fear sometimes, and even though God doesn’t want us to be afraid, it’s not actually evil, is it?
But he wasn’t acting out of fear.  Reading on in verses 2 and 3. [read]  He was angry because God is a god of Love!  He had a deep hatred of the wicked, evil Ninevites.  He despised them, and did not want to see them provided with God’s grace and compassion!  He wanted God to crush them, but he knew that God would forgive them if they repented.  He didn’t want to be party to this forgiveness, this act of compassion. He was so mad that he wanted to die.
In verse 4, God asks Jonah a direct question: “Do you have any right to be angry?” or “Is it right for you to be angry?”  One other possibility: “Are you that deeply upset?”  Jonah doesn’t answer.  Instead he goes East of Nineveh (v 5), builds a shelter for himself, and waits to see what happens.
2.  God’s provision
In Busan right now, we can sympathize with Jonah.  It is hot now, and it was hot then. So in verse 6 [read], God appoints a vine to shade Jonah. The NIV uses the word “provided”, which I kind of like. It is also translated as “sent.” However you look at it, the vine is from God. The same word is used two more times in the next two verses [read vs 7-8]
So in the desert God is giving Jonah exactly what he deserves, right?  An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a spiteful act for a spiteful act, right?
Wrong.  If God were to give even the best of us a fraction what we deserve, we would be doomed.  We would be so burdened with hate and spite that we would never be able to rise above it. We would have no hope.  We would die, forever.
Fortunately for us, God provided the Ultimate Sacrifice to save us.  Instead of justice, he gives us mercy.  And this mercy is evident 750 years before Christ was born, when this man of God, Jonah, strayed from God’s path.  First God put Jonah back on his path, or, if you prefer, provided a great fish to vomit him back on the path, then God helped Jonah to understand that path and improve himself.  By providing a worm.
Back home in the States, my parents had a cat named Dolly.  Dolly was a bit temperamental: sometimes she liked to be stroked, sometimes not.  She sometimes showed her feelings in a somewhat violent manner, but she was also very liberal with her affection when in the mood.  But as brave as she was, she turned into a nervous wreck whenever we put her in the car: She shed fur all over, she made the most pitiful noises, and she walked all over the driver, passenger, back seat, floor and anyplace else she could get to.  Because she knew she was going to the vet, and it was probably going to hurt, or at the very least be humiliating.
In the same way Dolly wanted to avoid the pain and humiliation of going to the vet, we want to avoid the pain and humiliation of having our nasty, sinful nature exposed and removed.  All Dolly could think of was the immediate pain, not the consequences of avoiding the injection.  Dolly not only did not, but could not imagine the consequences of not getting a rabies vaccination.  And we can’t possibly imagine the actual results of allowing our sinful natures to keep control of us.
If I could have learned cat language, and tried to tell Dolly that we provided these trips to the vet for her, her reaction would probably be similar to our reaction on hearing that God provided a worm to Jonah.  I can’t speak cat language, but for days after going to the vet, Dolly used to hide when we called for her, then while we were walking down the hall she would stalk us and pounce on our legs.  Sounds to me a lot like Jonah sitting in the desert wanting to die.
Jonah needed that worm.  God could have left Jonah in the desert to rot; after all, God convinced Jonah to do his work, and the Ninevites repented. Job done. But it does not suit God to use people and throw them away.  God wanted Jonah to understand God’s concern for the Ninevites, and to feel the same way.  Words alone weren’t getting through to Jonah, so God provided him something simple and ephemeral, a vine, then took it away.  Then God has this conversation with Jonah:  [read Jonah 4: 8-end] And that’s the end of the book.

3. Call to repentance
We are kind of left hanging, here. How does Jonah reply to God’s final question? The answer is that he wrote down his story for us to read and learn from. Did he repent? I think yes. I don’t think you get a book of the Bible named after you if you finish your story angry at God. I think that Jonah finally understood how selfish he was being, and when he wrote out his story it was obvious how wrong he was. God’s question doesn’t require an answer, because it is completely rhetorical: God asks so that we will think and act.
The people of Nineveh repented. They heard that judgment was coming, they were rightfully scared, and they CHANGED. They stopped what they were doing and begged for mercy. And God provided mercy.  Much later, in Matthew 12:39, Jesus is asked for a miraculous sign. He offers none but the sign of Jonah, buried for three days, then come back to the world of the living. But that generation was condemned, because they would not repent.
And so we have the words of Moses and the prophets. We have the witnesses of Jesus. We have the choice to repent or not.
We will get angry, it is human nature.  Be we can choose to embrace our anger, or let it go.
God will provide worms and scorching East winds for us. We can choose whether to learn or just get angry.
If you have not made that choice, or if you’re having trouble with your choices now, please come talk with me, or John, or Mark, or a member of the praise team, or someone here who just seems like the right person to talk to. Ask for prayer, because anyone who is a member of ICC will be happy to pray for you.
And now, let’s go together to God in prayer:

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Maxine Makes the Cake

Yesterday Horyon took Maxine to the cake decorating store where she decorated a cake for her aunt. It came out just fine, and Maxine looks pretty cute, too.

A Brief Introduction

Roblog is my writing lab. It is my goal to not let seven days pass without a new post. I welcome your criticism, as I cannot improve on my own.

Here is a link to my cung post, which remains the only word which I have ever invented, and which has not, as far as I know, caught on. Yet.