We generally try to avoid corn syrup of all kinds (but we only "try", meaning it isn't banned or anything like that). But, when I'm looking for cereal or granola bars or whatever, I check the ingredients and particularly try to gauge if sugar (in whatever form) would be the first ingredient if they hadn't split it into different types to try to hide that fact.

Today I came across a research article that found that high fructose corn syrup is worse than other sugars in causing weight gain. I had figured it was the same as other sugars, but just that we all eat so much sugar now, (and all the tv watching) so that had more to do with the obese kids. Who knows if the research was true or funded by a competitor of corn syrup, or someone just against all the subsidies for corn, etc.

Posted by Jon Daley on June 11, 2010, 9:16 am | Read 2575 times | Comments (5)
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So, after thinking about it for a while, we decided to go ahead and purchase a new bike.  The reason it took some thinking is that it isn't a regular old bike with one seat, but has three seats, with room for three adults, or with the added child conversion kits, Noah and Jonathan can fit on it as well.

They aren't very common, and are hand-built, so they cost a ton when they are new, and so we gave up on the dream of a five seater, like the Harrisons have.  But, we thought a triplet would be more affordable, and we came across a used one from Tandems East, which looking at their name, you can guess how often you come across a bike shop that knows about tandems. I read a bunch of the stories from the family that owns Precision Tandems, but they are even farther away, and though it is neat to look at all of their bikes, the new ones that they have posted for sale are way out of our price range (as in, we could either buy two bikes or one of our old house...)  (More)

Posted by Jon Daley on June 8, 2010, 9:21 pm | Read 64703 times | Comments (4)
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I noticed recently that Armstrong upgraded our connection to the internet from home. We now get 10Mbps download and 1.5Mbps upload.  We still pay a little less than $40/month.  We would use a faster upload connection if we had it, but we rarely find servers that will let us download that quickly.  We are now approaching 2 years with Armstrong, and of the couple of times I've had to call them, I've been pretty happy with their service.
Posted by Jon Daley on May 31, 2010, 7:30 pm | Read 1931 times | Comments (1)
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As we've mentioned, our water is pretty hard, and dishwashers in particular don't like hard water, and the manual with our dishwasher says specifically that it won't work with our water.  But, it has worked pretty well for around ten months or so, as long as we kept the rinse aid container filled with vinegar.

However, in the last couple months or so, there has been this brownish buildup of something that is really hard to scrub off, and extra vinegar didn't seem to do anything, and I haven't been that convinced that the vinegar is doing all that much any more, as the silverware has started to get white stains on it again.

I looked around the other day for solutions and there are various solutions - more vinegar - one guy puts in a half gallon once a month or so - I've never put in more than a half cup.  Some other people say the vinegar should be put in a bottom down glass on the top rack rather than just putting the vinegar in the bottom like I usually do.  And then there were some more interesting solutions: using Tang or sugarless lemonade powder.  Lemonade is easier to buy in small quantities, since I was pretty skeptical if it would work or not, and I don't like Tang, so didn't want to have extra lying around if it didn't work.

But, I just ran a half cycle load with two lemonade packets and it turns out I should have taken a "before" picture to show the difference.  The dishwasher is now spotless! (other than some food stains around the gasket that probably need to be scrubbed to get them off)

Posted by Jon Daley on May 25, 2010, 7:08 pm | Read 61866 times | Comments (9)
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In conclusion, the authors talk some about definitions of success and how those definitions affect how you see yourself and your church.

He is quick to point out that large churches are not always bad, but points out various downsides of being in a large church, some of which I have experienced when I was at different large (where I define "large" as more than two or three hundred people) churches in Pittsburgh, where if you sit in a different seat on a particular Sunday, everyone assumes you are new to the church.

He also talks about the glamor of big-name preachers, and how some churches look for big-name speakers, both to pastor their churches, and for retreats, etc. There is a church in Pittsburgh that probably most people wouldn't recognize the name of the church, but lots of people would recognize the name of the pastor, mostly because that is how the church is advertised, as "so-and-so's church in wherever".   (And some people joke at our church about doing that for the pastor...)

In the sermon last wee, Andrew mentioned some grass-is-always-greener temptations that some pastors have, where small congregation pastors sometimes wish for larger congregations, and/or staff for the ministry that would be possible with those resources, and large congregation pastors sometimes wish for the "old days", when things were simpler and easier to manage, etc.

I guess it all comes down to how you define success.

Heather and I were talking about our food budget the other day (she aims for $300/month, but fails whenever I go shopping, and I've done a bunch of shopping this month) and we were talking about where I spent the money, and how it was different than how she would have spent it.  One thing that I got was a handful of "Tony's" pizzas, since they were on sale, and I figured you can always have more frozen pizzas around for those days that are busy, and it is easier to throw some toppings on a pizza than make dinner, and Heather said that we haven't been eating Tony's pizzas in a long time, and I thought that perhaps our consumption of Tony's pizzas is a good indicator of how life is going: if Heather has time to make homemade pizza and other dinners, things must be going pretty well.

Posted by Jon Daley on April 16, 2010, 10:57 pm | Read 8277 times | Comments (2)
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The authors quote some statistics of how many children leave the church never to come back, and particularly notes some examples of where churches had "junior church" for the kids, and while it was fun and entertaining when they were young, when the kids were old enough to attend "adult church", they never went, since it was completely different than what they thought church was all about.  Having not seen either of the services in the example, I'd probably argue for something in the middle - that probably the junior church was too much fluff and "fun" (Jonathan and I have conversations occasionally and setup a quadrant diagram with the axes labelled "good" and "fun", and how there can be things that might be fun but not good, etc.) and probably also the "adult church" takes themselves too seriously and needs to realize that "good" church isn't dead and dry, and it is not about surviving the weekly ordeal in order to get to the football game in the afternoon.

We have a simple rule of thumb in our church: if we would do this as a family, we can do it as a church; if we would not do this as family, why do it as church?  This is not intended to cover every possible eventuality, but it has proved useful in maintaining a church life that is refreshingly simple and uncluttered, with space for relationships and front-line evangelism.

 

Posted by Jon Daley on April 12, 2010, 10:42 am | Read 4809 times | Comments (2)
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I'm skipping the "Theology" chapter, partly because I don't have anything to say about it (it was a short chapter), but also that I need to return the book to the library, and I'm running out of time, and trying to avoid any fines...

First off, a definition of apologetics, since I always forget the definitions of these "fancy" words:

  1. The branch of theology that is concerned with defending or proving the truth of Christian doctrines.
  2. Formal argumentation in defense of something, such as a position or system.

The most interesting thing that I read in this chapter was the concept of relational apologetics.  I don't think I'd ever heard that before, but as you might guess, pretty much everything these guys (and probably me too) think about can be thought of in a communal-center fashion too).

People reject the knowledge of God not because they cannot know God, but becaue they will not know him.  At root it is not an intellectual problem of the head, but a relational problem of the heart.  This has profound implications for apologetics.

We need to persuade people that our story, the story of God, is true.  But they will only explore its truth if we can first persuade them that it might be a better story.  We need to address their hearts before we can begin to address the questions in their heads.  We have a better sotry than any of the alternatives.  We need to awaken a desire for God.  We need to make people want Christianity to be true.  Then we might be able to persuade them that it is true.

 

Posted by Jon Daley on April 10, 2010, 11:33 am | Read 1691 times | Comments (0)
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Heather's dad sent a link to this article, which I thought was pretty good.  And at least, it is a good word-of-the-day for you. Your assignment is to use it in a sentence sometime today.  Laughing

"NOW, SIR," concluded Davy Crockett, "you know why I made that speech yesterday. I have had several thousand copies of it printed and was directing them to my constituents when you came in. ...

(Original Post)

 

Posted by Jon Daley on April 9, 2010, 2:27 pm | Read 4496 times | Comments (10)
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This chapter is basically comparing Eastern and Western religions, though I think those terms aren't ever actually used.  And they argue against those Christians that would like to introduce Eastern practices into Christian.

"Contemplation, silence and solitude."  It certainly describes a good deal of what passes for spirituality among evangelicals today.  Or worse than that, it constitutes a kind of advanced spirituality for the elite.  We teach new Christians to pray and read their bibles, but mature spirituality, it is said, takes us into new realms - the realms of "contemplation, silence and solitude."

But what struck me as I pondered those words is that the describe the exact opposite of biblical spirituality.  Biblical spirituality is not about contemplation; it is about reading and meditating on the word of God.  It is not about detached silence; it is about passionate petition.  It is not about solitude; it is about participation in community.

I think part of the problem might simply be definitions, as the author has to acknowledge that Jesus went off on his own early in the morning for what I would think could accurately be described as "contemplation, silence and solitude".  Being community-centered people, the authors and myself are probably more wary than we should be of this sort of thing.

This community spirituality clearly requires a certain level of relationship.  We need to be sharing our lives.  We need to be with other Christians "daily."  We need friendships that are real, open and intimate.  We need to give one another license to dig into our lives and challenge our hearts.  We need leaders who foster this culture by giving and receiving this daily exhortation, who lead not only from their pulpits but with their lives.  The word of God needs not only to be central to church life, but thoroughly to pervade every aspect of it.

 

Posted by Jon Daley on April 9, 2010, 10:25 am | Read 1877 times | Comments (0)
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I am not sure what I think about this chapter.  The authors argue for Christian pastoral care within a communal setting, as opposed to the "professional" counseling.  I have heard of a couple stories of people violently against that idea, though I haven't seen anything bad about that myself, and would tend to agree with the authors, that I think it is helpful for a "counselor" to share a worldview with the "counselee" as that greatly affects what counsel is appropriate to give someone.  In addition, I think the authors would argue against professional Christian counselors as well, but aim more for relationships within the community that you are already in.  (More)

Posted by Jon Daley on April 8, 2010, 3:57 pm | Read 6962 times | Comments (11)
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When we were going to bed, Kim said something about setting his alarm for 4AM or some crazy number like that.  Apparently, he gets up pretty early at home, and takes the opportunity to get up even earlier in the Dominican.  But, since I work for myself, I tend to get up pretty late most days, and I think I've been sleeping pretty well lately, so I don't think I've gotten up at 2 or 3 in a long time (a number of years ago, I made myself a rule that said if I wake up and can't get back to sleep for an hour, I get up and start my day, no matter what time it is, so I've gotten up at all sorts of crazy times - midnight, 2, 4, etc.)

I've inherited my dad's sensitivity when sleeping (well, probably not as much as he had, when he used to wake up to an alarm that was broken, and so the only noise was the mechanical plastic piece snapping a half inch), but I've never liked alarm clocks, and always use a quiet radio to wake up to if I need one.  Kim's Blackberry, or whatever it was, was really loud, and John and I were pretty surprised.  The rest of the week, either he used a quieter alarm, or else he just woke up on his own, as I had a nice peaceful wake up at right around 5 each morning.  (More)

Posted by Jon Daley on April 7, 2010, 12:57 pm | Read 1470 times | Comments (2)
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Again, probably showing my bias, I didn't get a whole lot out of the "World Mission" chapter, so I am going to combine two chapters into one post.

The gospel word is a word for the present about the future.  Hope is integral to our message.  Non-Christians campaign for justice and feed the hungry, often with greater energy than Christians.   But only Christians can point people to the world to come.  Only Christians can show them how eloquently and relevantly the Bible describes the world we all want. ... The very best we can do for others is to tur their gaze toward eternity.
 (More)
Posted by Jon Daley on April 6, 2010, 12:23 pm | Read 4310 times | Comments (1)
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So, as most of you know, in March I went on my first ever short-term mission trip to Hato Mayor in the Dominican Republic with college students from Penn State, University of Pittsburgh and a handful from other places.

It is almost a month later, and I've been meaning to write down things that I saw and experienced while I was there, partially so I don't forget them, but hopefully also to encourage you, the reader.  I have quite figured out the best way to write it all down, but I think going day-by-day will be the easiest, as I can categorize things chronologically, and hopefully not forget anything in the process.

However, the first "day" is a little hard to write about, since we left Pittsburgh on Saturday evening, and fell into our beds at 4AM or so on Sunday morning, and so I consider Sunday to be our first "real" day anyway.  (More)

Posted by Jon Daley on April 5, 2010, 10:49 pm | Read 93751 times | Comments (3)
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"The church exists by mission as a fire exists by burning." -- Emil Brunner
Mission very easily becomes one activity among others in church life.  It sits on the agenda alongside a list of other items bying for attention.  Or it is left to the enthusiasts to get on with it at the edge of church life.

How often have you seen a church where the evangelist is over there, and you should talk to him if you are interested in that kind of stuff.  Not that I am any better, most likely far, far worse than the average person sitting in the rows of chairs (we don't have pews), but that doesn't make it any less important.  (Just because there are always earmarks in the bills our legislature passes, doesn't make the next one right)  (More)

Posted by Jon Daley on April 4, 2010, 6:01 pm | Read 2624 times | Comments (4)
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Partly due to doing things with my family and partly due to catching up at work after last week of very little work, I haven't read much lately, and then when I did read, it was late at night, and figured I'd wait until I was in front of a computer to blog about it, rather than using the phone (and keeping Heather awake with the cell phone light, and the clicking of the keyboard...)

The next couple chapters weren't as gripping for me as the first few.

I did like a couple quotes though:

I was talking with a prominent evangelical church leader and asked him why more people are not open to a household model of church or to community groups meeting in homes.  The church leader was candid in his reply: "Because people like me come from professional backgrounds, and we want churches that reflect our backgrounds.  I don't want to be opening my home to people.  I don't want to get involved in people's lives.  I don't want needy people in my church.  Before people like me went into Christian ministry, we were lawyers, doctors, businessmen. And when we get involved in ministry, we bring those values with us."

I have wondered why some people seem to not want people in their home, at least not more than once or twice a year.  I have no idea what the reasons are, and if this guy represents a common thought.  BCF is always looking for homes to have various meetings in, and I think people have finally gotten the idea that our house is open whenever, and it isn't a burden at all. (More)

Posted by Jon Daley on April 2, 2010, 9:30 pm | Read 9760 times | Comments (5)
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