boon-dog-gle: (noun) work of little or no value done merely to keep or look busy.
free: (adjective) provided without, or not subject to, a charge or payment.


Surprise random link of the week...

Here's this week's link: Have fun!


Sunday updates...

What have I been up to lately?
  • It's been the busy season at work, Covenant Seminary Bookstore, with the start of a new semester tacked onto the end of the January Interterm. For about 3 weeks I was working 12-hour days. That's pretty much over, though. I'm almost caught up now.
  • I've been pretty much failing miserably at my New Year's Resolutions. Although, this week, I did exercise 3 times, and in addition, we went to the zoo on Saturday so I walked around for about an hour and a half. Then today, I spent a couple hours doing yard work. So maybe things are looking up.
  • Speaking of yard work, I did a couple hours of it today. Living in the city, we have community dumpsters in the alley, which alternate between "No Yard Waste" and "Yard Waste Only." Well, I filled up the entire "Yard Waste Only" dumpster behind our house, and then took two more trash barrels full of waste up to the dumpster up the alley. Unfortunately, with all of that, I only cleared up about 1/4 of the back yard. The problem is, we have one of the worst inventions ever in our backyard, a giant gumball tree. This is something I never encountered until moving to St. Louis, but it is basically a giant tree that not only drops a ton of leaves on the ground every year, but also these spiky spherical balls that are called "gumballs" because they stick to each other and to dog fur. Very annoying.
  • Finally, what's been taking up most of my time lately is that our foster-daughter Leah is back with us. We received a call on Jan. 2 that she needed a placement, so we've had here since then. It's been a lot of fun having her back with us. She's becoming such a cute, fun, smart little girl. We don't know yet how long she'll be with us. We're just moving forward at the pace of the system for now, trying to enjoy our time with her without fearing what the future might hold. We'll see. But I'm sure I'll be posting stories about all the clever, funny little things she does and says.
I think there were some other things I was going to write about. But I can't remember them. And it's late now, so I'm off to bed.



*Author's note: I wrote the first 90% of this post about a month ago, and then I couldn't think of a way to end it. I'm not sure that I much like the end that I've given it now (and I'm not too impressed by most of the middle anymore) but I figured I ought to just get it done and post it.

You may have noticed that I recently changed the look of the blog. (At least I didn't go fiddling with the address, like some people I know.) Sometimes I just feel in the mood for change. Usually about once a year I'll move around the furniture in one of the rooms of our house. Doing so gives the living room or bedroom a fresh feeling, and maybe the illusion of the ever-elusive "more space" between the bed and dressers (even though it's still the same items within the same four walls). That was part of idea for changing the blog's look.

Change can also be spurred by the potential for actual qualitative improvement, such as through increased functionality. During the summer I invested my money and time at Covenant Seminary Bookstore (the business I own) to have the store's website renovated. The online store is now not only more attractive, but it also offers a more intuitive user experience and more security for the online customer. As for the blog, I had noticed on a few other blogs recently that their blogrolls also captured a feed of the latest post from each blog. I liked that feature, and I wanted it here, but it took a more wide-ranging change to be able to include it. So, that was another cause for the changes around here.

Of course, sometimes change is well received, and sometimes it's not. Apparently, at one time, I was not all that impressed with the changes that CNN made to their website. Now honestly: I have no recollection of what I didn't appreciate about the changes, nor do I recall what the site was like before the changes. So, I guess the reaction to change can be as fleeting as the reasons for change. Maybe that bodes well for the new, which I'm not all that fond of at the moment. I suppose in a few months I'll be clicking around at ESPN without a second thought like I do at CNN today.

There are times when change is certainly for the worst. (For example, see the poster at the top of the post.) Some people know that Suzanne and I are huge fans of CSI. We've seen pretty much every episode. Well, a few seasons ago, inexplicably, they went through a story arc in which the usual team in the show was split up. The various characters were always working on separate cases, and the character interaction--the best part of the show--was badly disrupted. That kind of change can be categorized in the "if-it-ain't-broke-don't-fix-it" file.

Then again, just the idea of "change(#)," if talked about frequently enough, and especially if it is kept carefully separated from any actual proposals or prescriptions, can sometimes win you the presidency of the United States.

At this point, you're thinking, "Okay, okay, what's the point. I'm ready to change to another blog or website." Well, I guess I've been thinking about change lately, not only as a concept, but also as a personal goal. There are changes I want to make for aesthetic reasons and changes I want to make for "quality" (i.e., maturity). I'm sure some of the changes will be well received, and some won't; some will be good ideas, some will be bad, and some will be soon forgotten. But I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one who desires to see change in his own life.

I'm quite certain that human beings were made to strive for change. When God made people, He intended for us to get to work changing this world that He had just made. The Bible sets forth the course of human history moving from a Garden (in the beginning) to a City (at the end). It takes many incremental changes to get from one to another. Yet, of course, many changes we pursue are all wrong, which is due to the initial change our first parents made from following God's law. Now our sinful changes are all mixed up with the ways we should be properly changing ourselves and our world. We see that the world is Not the Way It's Supposed to Be. And so we desire a change that is bigger than we can effect. How do we make sense of our situation?

Here's what Jesus said: "In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart, I have overcome the world." (John 16:33) The problems in our world and in ourselves are more than we can change on our own, but the Good News is that Jesus promises to change not only us, but the whole world. Yet, paradoxically, this promise isn't an invitation to passivity. Rather, because we can be sure of the Lord's work in us and in the world, we can be confident in our work in His name. This is what Paul teaches at the end of 1 Corinthians 15. After a full chapter discussing the certainty of the resurrection of Christ, it's theological implications, and the future resurrection of Christians, the Apostle does not say, "Therefore, wait until God ushers in the good times." Instead, he says, "Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain." So, we are assured that God will indeed bring about the change we desire (in ourselves, and in our world) and that gives us confident to continue working for change, striving to maturity in ourselves and laboring to cultivate the City of God throughout the world.

(#) Oops...see...I told you above that I wrote most of this a long time ago. Now this link doesn't work any more.

G.K. Chesterton...

"The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, and also to love our enemies; probably because they are generally the same people."