Monday, October 31, 2005

Kerrville, TX

My friends are awesome!

I gave the Gospel at the conference in Kerrville and they filled up the front row. I felt so loved and supported. A lot of prayer went into that talk (both mine and others'), and the Lord enabled me to share my appreciation of His love and work with those in attendance. It was an incredibly humbling experience. I knew from the minute I was asked that it wasn't in my power to accomplish anything or change anyone on my own, perhaps that was why I was willing to accept. That was kind of the point of my talk: Jesus is the true source of Life and without Him we can do nothing.

That's one crown that I have to cast at His feet even now: look at what Christ is doing in my life!

Kerrville was great this year. I really enjoyed the meetings, especially the Bible studies, which were in Revelation 1. I also enjoyed spending time with friends, talking and laughing and doing weird human tricks (see below if you dare).

Breaking of Bread was magnificent.

I flew into Dallas, stayed there overnight, and drove down the following evening. It was nice to spend some time with Caleb and the Smiths, and I got to know Christy, and talk with Trevor and Kevin.

The weather was beautiful. It reminded me of California. The fact that it's been raining constantly since I've gotten back to Seattle and daylight savings time just ended isn't helping at all.

It was good to see Anna, although we didn't really spend that much time together. I'll have to rectify that this Thanksgiving.

Two days was just too short to properly spend time with so many friends. Y'all had better all come to Yorba Linda.

Glory Hollingsworth

Caleb and Heather

Sarah and Jessica

Christy and Kevin


Utter mayhem.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Seaside, OR

This past weekend was spent at Seaside. It was a fun trip: I got to spend some time with friends.



I didn't take too many pictures, but this was one of them.
One of the organized activities was a photo scavenger hunt in which we were given a pumpkin and a list of shots and then set loose in town. Here are the photos for each of the groups:

Blue, Green, Teal, Yellow

Thursday, October 06, 2005


I don't usually do this, but here's my "Listening to" section: Go download the latest Harvey Danger album, Little by Little (yes--It's free, legal, good, there's no DRM to "manage" your digital rights, and the band wants you to do it). The reason they can (and want to) do this is that they currently aren't signed with a record label.

Musicians don't make much money when you buy their album, their cut is typically around 10%, and this goes first to recoup the cost of the contract. A record label will front a musician the money to produce an album, let's say it's $100,000. They can go and tell their friends they just signed a hundred thousand dollar record deal, which is true, but from that money, they have to pay for studio time to record, have it mixed, produce a master, etc., and all of these are usually "services" that the label supplies to the artist, for a fee. If you have a dinner meeting with your agent, he will pick up the check, and then turn around and bill that amount against your contract, plus whatever his hourly rate is. After all of this, the album goes to the shelves, and the artist gets a certain amount of each sale. By "gets," of course, I mean that his share of that money goes towards paying back the record label for the contract amount. THEN, once the label has gotten all their money back (plus their cut of album sales, plus all of the services they sold to the artist along the way), the artist starts seeing some of the money from album sales.

So, how do musicians make money? One word: concerts. The record label often gets a cut of this action too, if they act as the producer, but live performance has always been and is still today the primary source of a musician's money. So, how does one fill seats at a concert? Hmm... it would help if the artist had fans. Fans who had heard the artist on the Internet, radio, or CD, or... hmmm, what are all those funny little things people walk around carrying with wires that go to their ears? Anyway, the more exposure an artist gets, the greater their audience and fanbase and hence a larger pool of people willing to come to their concerts, buy their T-shirts, baseball caps and nose rings, most of which goes straight into the musician's pocket.

[Please feel free to correct me if my facts are significantly wrong, btw.]

So, with the advent of viable Internet digital content distribution, the recording industry is in for a monumental change. The cost of getting music into the ears of millions is shrinking. Record labels suddenly find themselves becoming obsolete. They must change their business model, buy congress in order to enforce the old system (watch out for this--they have already purchased a few small European nations), or disappear altogether. What won't disappear is the music, it's just that the makeup over the big "MIDDLE MAN" stamped on the RIAA's foreheads is wearing off.

I'm not telling you to go participate in the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted work. Don't do that, it's copyright infringement (though it is not theft), and you would open yourself up to civil suit (but not criminal prosecution). I'm sick of people trying to redefine our perfectly good language to their own ends--but that's another rant.

Wow, that was long. And now, on to my real post.

Thursday nights I play volleyball. I'm on a team of six and we play in a league put on by my work. Today there were only three of us. I was a bit late because I had gotten distracted at home. I couldn't find my basketball shorts, so I had to wear some old jean shorts with a torn back pocket. I was starving when I got home. I forgot to bring a banana to work this morning, which is not a big deal, because I have package cereal at my desk, as well as yogurt in the fridge, and frozen dinners in the freezer. But I wasn't at my desk all day. I was in a lab in another building and I couldn't leave. Plus, when I get absorbed in a task, I have very little clue of anything going on around (or, in this case, inside of) me. I lose track of time and hunger is just another distraction that I ignore. My family can attest to this.

Anyway, so when I got home from work, I was really hungry, so I started making some french toast and chatting online with my sister-in-law while I caught up on some articles I'd seen on slashdot and digg. We discussed pizza and her new job, which she is enjoying. I also called my roommate to see if he had seen my shorts. He hadn't.

I left a bit late for volleyball, but I was able get into the gym and arrived just as the first game was about to start. It was a good thing I showed up when I did because there were only three of us. I didn't have any time to warm up or anything, and consequently I started the game off with a bad serve. It glanced off of my hand to the right and went out of bounds. Oh, well. The nice thing about playing 3-man volleyball is that it's pretty easy to tell whose ball it is, and each player gets a nice share of the action. Playing against teams of 5 and 6 when there are only three of you means you are constantly on the move when the ball is in play, and I mean that literally. I got some good exercise, and I had a lot of fun. Despite our numerical disadvantage we played very well. We played three 30-minute matches against different teams, which usually consist of one and a half to two games, rally score to twenty-five. We won four games out of six (fractions of games count as whole), and the ones we lost were pretty close. (This is better than our record with the whole team there.) The three of us were playing well: we were communicating well, and we were consistently sticking to three-hit (bump, set, spike) rallys, we weren't making stupid errors, and our serves were generally good.

I think playing in this league is really improving my skill. I would say I'm about average for the team, but the two players there tonight are both better than me in most respects. Playing with people who are better than you gives you examples to follow, and keeps your ego down, so you don't think you've 'arrived.' As a setter you're given decent passes as well as right-of-way to the second hit, and your good sets aren't wasted; and when spiking you more often see the ball floating in space perfectly poised for you to smack it down on the other side of the net. Speaking of which, starting to dink lot less and spike more often and more effectively.

I'll have to get down to California and test my mettle with the Lassen champs one of these days.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Death and Life

Okay, so perhaps I should update this before all the cobwebs fossilize in dust strata.

I gave the Sunday School talk this morning in Tacoma. Okay, so it wasn't really Sunday School, since everyone below high school was downstairs in their actual Sunday School class at the time. I guess you could call it a sermon, in fact it fits the dictionary definition of the word quite nicely, but that's a bit scary, and there kind of an informal feel to it, so I think a more appropriate term would be Adult Sunday School Talk.

I started in Genesis 2:4-9, 2:15-17 and 3:1-7 with the creation and fall of man, pointing out that God created the universe, created man, gave him life, and a job to do in the garden of Eden. Then when Adam fell, he became dead due to sin, and was no longer able to have fellowship with God or tend the garden for Him.

Romans 5:12:
...through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned
So, we're dead: incapable of producing anything good for God, and enslaved to sin. (This is bad.)

Next, I recycled part of a talk that I gave in Buena Park for Sunday School back in 2003, and later also to the 8-and-under's at Lassen. Ezekiel 37 tells of a vision that the prophet Ezekiel had in which God demonstrates his ability to create life where there exists no other hope of life returning (a valley of dry bones). God uses this illustration to declare His life-giving power, and His promise to one day restore Israel to prosperity in their land, even though they had said "our bones are dried up and our flesh has perished. We are completely cut off." (Ezekiel 37:11)

The presentation is nothing more than a series of web pages with some animated GIFs and background WAV sounds that I threw together the night before the original talk, and as such, you can access them here, provided my computer is on (which it usually is these days). The sounds (which I think are the best part of the presentation) only worked in MSIE because I was using the <bgsound> tag (Firefox didn't exist back then and I was a MSIE fanboy, because let's face it, Netscape 4 sucked), so I changed the files to using <embed>, which seems to mostly work, with the exception that the loop="" flag doesn't seem to be honored for me on Firefox--in any case, if the man only breathes once for you, you know why, and that it shouldn't be that way.

Anyway, the first slide (title page) goes with v. 1-6, the 2nd slide is for v. 7-8, 3rd for v. 9, and fourth v. 10. It's a fun little presentation, especially when the sound works, and it breaks the monotany by giving some audio-visual illustration.

The point of reading Ezekiel 37 was to highlight the fact that God can impart life even to those who are hopelessly dead, which is exactly the position in which a sinner finds himself.

John 1:1-5, 10-13 proclaims that through Jesus, who is the creator and sustainer of life, the universe, and everything (the answer to which, incidentally, is 42) we can become the children of God. Romans 5:17-21 detail how Jesus' death can serve to restore life in a reversal of the effect of Adam's fall. Reading on to 6:12 (because most of my audience was already quite familiar with that concept), it explains what we are to do (or rather not do) with the new life that we receive through faith in Jesus Christ. We are not to live in sin, because sin is what made us dead in the first place. The whole point of having a new life is to be free from sin's slavery, but there's more.

Next I went to Ephesians 2 (yes, there was a lot of reading involved in this talk). Ephesians 2:1-2 - We were dead in our sins, just like the dry bones in the valley, with no hope of life.
2:3 - We were enslaved to sin, not able or inclined to be righteous.
2:4-7 - God, who is rich in mery, and loves us, made us alive along with Christ (at His resurrection) and(!) gave us a place seated with Him in heaven, in order to show us the riches of His grace in his kindness toward us forever--not too shabby for someone who was just hopelessly dead.
2:8-10 - None of us did anything to deserve this gift of life, but we have been given it in order that we can do the work that God has for us to do.
Adam, along with his life, was given the task of tending the garden of Eden, and I bet he loved it. We too have been given a task to do with our new life.

1 John 5:1-3 - The natural state of God-given life is to obey His commandments; they aren't burdensome.

1 John 5:12-13
He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have eternal life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know they you have eternal life.