Friday, December 30, 2005


It's a little wet here in southern Oregon. The pictures you see here were taken this afternoon from the middle of the brand new bridge in our city. The bridge spans Little Butte Creek (for you out-of-towners, Butte is like "Beauty"). Only Little Butte Creek is not so little at the moment. Days and days of steady rain, coupled with mild temperatures which are melting the snow pack at higher elevations, have caused our rivers and streams to rise...and rise....and rise.

I'd love to say I got a picture of the Loch Ness Monster, but it is actually a log...a tree-sized log....floating down the creek. The last time our rivers got this high was the famous flood of 97...New Year's Day, no less (I remember our church served as a Red Cross aid station). Now the experts are saying that this set of flood watches and warnings are not as bad as 97. But from the looks of things, our town might be in for some wet times. The lower level, creek side park benches at the site of the new visitor center (being constructed) are almost submerged. Some of the backyards that line the lower part of the creek are filling with water. My daughter reported that a few low level side streets are closed due to backed up storm drains.

Our family is fine...we are situated away from flood danger. But my prayer is for folks in our church body and in the community who may have to contend with this. No, it's nothing like the after-effects of Katrina, and it won't make headlines past our region. But our community is important, so if you could pray for us as we enter the new year, we would appreciate it. And I will attempt to keep you posted on our Flood Watch.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Wadja git?

Merry Christmas, everyone!
What a wonderful and tiring day it was. The action began last night with our church's annual Christmas Eve service (okay, it actually began last month around Thanksgiving, but I'm talking immediate past here). It was a beautiful service as always. Afterwards, we went "light looking." It too was fun and enjoyable.
And then...home. And some yuletide snacking. And some last minute wrapping. And last minute cleaning. As for me, I was putting the finishing touches on a "Playtime Parable." Now let me interrupt this missive long enough to explain what a "Playtime Parable" is. Once in awhile, during Sunday Morning Celebration Large Group Time (often referred to as "Children's Church" in some congregations), I will present a Biblical story or Bible truth or lesson using action figures. I have a camera set up to the big TV so the kids can see the action. It's a lot of fun and very well received. Now in the interest of fairness and full disclosure, I did not originate "Playtime Parables." Way out in the Chicago area lives my counterpart in children's ministries, a warrior for the Lord named Karl Bastian. He and I have met exactly twice, along with a few hundred of my closest friends, so if he does not remember me, that's perfectly understandable. Anyway, if creativity and innovation have a picture attached, it's Karl's. And one of his innovations is "Toybox Tales," in which he acts out Bible lessons using action figures. And here's the neat part...he even gives instructions on how to do the same thing! So I launched "Playtime Parables" at our church. If you want to see what experience, better technology, and a slightly offbeat mind will produce, check out for Karl's sight (it even includes free downloads). Let him know Tim sent you (to which he might say, "Tim who?)
Anyway, I was up until 2 a.m. working on Playtime Parable's "A Christmas Caroble". I told my lovely wife to set the alarm for 5:30, since I wanted to get an early start. She laughed and said I really did not want to get up that early. I went to bed, thinking about how I would get up early. And then, to show that God has a sense of humor, at 5:45 a.m., I got a tremendous cramp in my foot! I sprang out of bed to walk it off, only to realize the pain had vanished just as quickly as it arrived. And as I sat on the edge of the bed, weary, sleepy, and disoriented, I heard a voice within say, "So you really want to get up now?" I went back to sleep for a while longer.
Large Group Celebration went very well. We had a craft. We had a game. We had a festive holiday song. All that was left was the Playtime Parable and the object lesson. I flicked on the camera and began the scene. I had barely started the dialogue when my wife gave me the "sign" that the worship service was over and parents were starting to pick up their kids! I was faced with a choice. I could try to "rush it", but that would sacrifice the quality. So I stopped the action and told the kids, "To learn what happens next, come back next week!" I then did my object lesson, since it contained the very essence of what we were getting at, which is keeping Jesus at the center of our Christmas and of our lives.
A good ending for a good morning.
Afternoon was spent at my wife's mother's house. We had a great dinner, then opened presents. Some of you may wonder what a guy like me gets for Christmas. Well, I got socks and other articles of clothing, but I also received a 12 cup coffee maker (I am immune to 10 cups anymore), a commentary, a jar of peanuts (a tradition), a copy of the Fantastic Four movie, and one of the neatest gifts of all, a PlayStation 2 game called "Nintendo Museum", which features all the classic arcade games of the 70's and early 80's. I don't do a lot of current video games, but these games bring back memories of when video games were simple and fun.
So it was a good Christmas. But the older I get, the more I find that the presents are secondary to the joy and wonder of this season.
I hope all of you had a good day and that the upcoming new year will be a Christ centered one. God bless us, every one!

Friday, December 09, 2005

Tis the Season

December...ahhh, what a month!
I am one of those people who absolutely refuses to acknowledge Christmas before Thanksgiving (with the exception of program practices, of course). I cannot get in the mood for the holidays while going past school supplies. I have a hard time reconciling aisle after aisle of spooky, scary Halloween stuff with the Prince of Peace in the next row! My family is conditioned to cringe in fear should I hear one line of "Jingle Bells" before the final slice of pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving Day.
But after the aforementioned final slice.....
On our way home from Thanksgiving Dinner at Grandmother's house, we see who can spot the first decorated house. I start getting the Christmas videos out. I begin playing Christmas music. As the days of December roll on, I bundle up and trudge out for the traditonal Christmas tree hunt. Okay, so it's in the garage, but I do have to move a couple of boxes to get to it!
Sadly, we have had a combination of bad colds/flu and busy schedules, so my grandiose plans to get the tree up and the house decorated before the first weekend of December kind of fell through. I did get the stuff out of the garage, so I'm that much ahead.
Last night was our DayCare Christmas program, the first of many holiday festivities. In spite of some disasterous rehearsals, the play was really awesome. We had about 200 people present. After the play, I shared a gospel devotion and then we had a slide show, followed by refreshments in the fellowship hall. It was a neat evening.
Tomorrow night is the DayCare staff Christmas dinner. Our pleasant, dignified, early childhood educators transform into...well, I'm not sure how to describe it. What's neat is that it's wild, uninhibited fun without the presence of alchohol!
Coming up next weekend: the Live Nativity presentation, which our church is coordinating and staging once again on behalf of the city, and our Christian Education program, which is woefully behind schedule on rehearsals. I'll write more about these things later, but suffice it to say, December is a time of wonder and joy and activity. I suppose I could sit at home all night and wonder about Christmas' regrets. But what fun would that be? Let's celebrate...let's party...let's take a look at the first coming of Jesus!
Ahhhhh, December....what a month!