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One tip that we have discovered for large families is that there is wisdom in getting a year’s family membership for a museum or art gallery. The whole family gets in free for the whole year and it doesn’t matter how big the family is.

This year we got a membership in the Minnesota Historical Society, which gets you into a fairly large number of historical sites and we have learned quite a bit of history this year.  Our membership ends today however, so yesterday we decided to use it one last time.

So we went to the Oliver H Kelley Farm for their yearly wheat threshing demonstration.

When we got there, we just missed the horse drawn carriage ride that they were running all day, so we went directly to watch the threshing machine. It was pretty interesting to watch. It was effectively two machines. The first machine was basically a treadmill for two horses, the second did the actual threshing and they were attached by a fairly large belt that connected the big flywheel on the treadmill to the smaller wheel on the threshing machine. 

We had been watching this machine process wheat for about a minute when three things happened in about fifteen seconds. First, the belt broke and flapped down on the ground. This (secondly) released the horses to run faster, and they did. This (thirdly) destabilized the treadmill machine in some way which caused the heavy four-foot-in-diameter fly wheel to explode.

The parts of this flywheel flew in several pieces and in several directions.  I watched one as it went fairly high and then came down and made a hole in the ground next to the machine.  Later, one of the kid volunteers pick up another piece a hundred feet away. There were many people nearby, so it was a blessing from God that no one was hurt.

But these horses were now running on the treadmill with nothing to stop them. I was impressed with how the workers (dressed up in historical clothes), didn’t panic, but calmly solved the problem. One of them fairly quickly realized (or already knew) they needed to create some kind of brake. So he jammed a large wooden pole into the system to create friction. This, it turned out, wasn’t enough to stop the horses – it wasn’t until three other men had jammed wooden beams into the treadmill that they finally forced the halt.

But had someone been in a slightly different spot when the wheel flew apart, we would have been reading about it in the papers today.

Everything I Ever Needed To Know I Learned From 2 Timothy (Part 2 of 2)

In the last days there will come times of difficulty. *** People will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. ***  Avoid such people. *** They will not get very far, for their folly will be plain to all, as was that of those two men. *** All who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. *** All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. *** Be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. *** The time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. *** Always be sober-minded *** Endure suffering *** Do the work of an evangelist *** Fulfill your ministry. *** The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. *** To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen. *** The Lord be with your spirit. *** Grace be with you.

I imagine most people agree that there are benefits to small church worship. Just like most agree there are benefits to being at a big church. Of late, I have more experience with the former, so:


14 Ways to Make Your Big Church Experience Seem More Like Small Church.


1. Get involved with children’s ministries.


2. Talk to people you don’t know.


3. Find a pastor that you trust and respect. Make him yours.


4. Ask questions.


5. If there is Adult Sunday School, join a class.


6. Get involved in a short term missions trip.


7. Find an elder that you trust and respect. Make him yours.


8. Get there a little early and linger after.


9. Find a niche ministry for yourself or your family.


10. Support one or two missionaries from your church.


11. Get to know the worship pastor. Get on his side.


12. Find a nice older couple who’s been around the church for awhile. Make them yours.


13. Sit in the same place every Sunday at church, by other people who sit in the same place every Sunday. Get acquainted with them.*


14. And obviously, be in a small group.


Any suggestions?


* But there is also merit in sitting in a different place every Sunday.




It was fun to see the responses. Here are some places where the root took hold:


Obviously there were some good lists put in the comments of the original post.


Never one to turn down a meme, Steve  made sure to put in his list.


And John at the Cross Driven Blog has an eclectic set as well.


Here’s one from the Pole Hill Sanitorium


Abraham had, as you might expect, a different take on the question


And obviously the biggest response was from Vox Day, who couldn’t resist a little jab at my theology on the way. There were many lists given from his ilk in the comments and it was interesting to see how the format evolved as the day went.


And I’m sure I’ve missed a few. In any case, all of these worked together to put me at # 42 at the wordpress growing blogs list for one day. I’ve hit the big time!


No word from Pastor John yet. I’m sure it’s on his to-do list.

From my wife:

America would be a better place if adoption were the default rather than the exception for all stable and happy families.


We went to church on Saturday and spent the day yesterday at the Great Minnesota Get-together.


Yes, we did this. Twice.

Normally we have no crying or tears at the State Fair. This year Adelyn was stung by a bee at supper.

Ate a turkey leg for the first time. Pretty good. A pretty good deal, too.

Saw this guy. Tried to figure out how it works. He’s tall.  Our kids were interested, scared, bemused and intrigued.  At one point he walked into the Arts and Crafts building, lifted his hands to his mouth and yelled, “Lucy, I’m home!”

Closed down the ice cream shop outside the 4H building for the third year in a row – this year the manager asked us if we wanted the extra french fries and came out with two large baskets.  We thanked him.

One of the favorite parts of the fair was the super extended bus getting home from the fair. Our kids sat in the middle section and enjoyed the accordian like attributes of the vehicle. And it was free!

Time spent at the fair (from getting out of our car to getting back to it): 11.5 hours.

* Yes, I write some of these on Mondays.

Still working through it. . . . and I don’t agree with much of it.

Everything I Ever Needed To Know I Learned From “Atlas Shrugged” (Part 2)

Happiness is the agent of purification. *** When a man thinks, there is a spot of fire alive in his mind. *** It is not advisable to venture unsolicited opinions. You should spare yourself the embarrassing discovery of their exact value to your listener. *** There’s nothing of any importance in life except how well you do your work.  Nothing. Only that.  Whatever else you are, will come from that.  It’s the only measure of human value. All the codes of ethics they’ll try to ram down your throat are just so much paper money put out by swindlers to fleece people of their virtues. The code of competence is the only system of morality that’s on a gold standard. *** By the standard of our time, the man who has the last to offer is the man who wins. *** That’s how great projects are born – over a drink with friends. *** What is man? He is just a collection of chemicals with delusions of grandeur. *** If one’s actions are honest, one does not need the predated confidence of others, only their rational perceptions. The person who craves a moral blank check of that kind, has dishonest intentions, whether he admits it to himself or not. *** Intelligence? It is such a rare precarious spark that flashes for a moment somewhere among men, and vanishes. One cannot tell its nature or its future or its death. *** There are still a few men in existence. *** Thought is a tool by which one makes a choice. *** No, not an assurance of victory – who can ever have that, only the chance to act, which is all one needs.  *** Everyman learns in his own way and time. *** Celebrations should be only for those who have reason to celebrate. *** Don’t ever get angry at a man for stating the truth. *** People don’t want to think. And the more they get into trouble, the less they want to think. *** Do you know the hallmark of a second rater? Its resentment of another man’s achievement. *** There’s nothing as wasted as an object in a public window. ***Desire presuppose the possibility of an action to achieve it. *** The worst guilt is to accept an undeserved guilt.

A friend of mine from church sent this. It’s fairly clever, so I decided to post it. 


But Flippancy is the best of all. In the first place it is very economical. Only a clever human can make a real joke about virtue, or indeed about anything else; any of them can be trained to talk as if virtue were funny. Among flippant people the joke is always assumed to have been made. No one actually makes it; but every serious subject is discussed in a manner which implies that they have already found a ridiculous side to it. If prolonged, the habit of Flippancy builds up around a man the finest armor plating against the Enemy that I know, and it is quite free from the dangers inherent in the other sources of laughter. It is a thousand miles away from joy; it deadens, instead of sharpening, the intellect; and it excites no affection between those who practice it.


We recently watched the new version of the musical “Candide”. It was excellently performed, well cast, clever and different. But parts of it (specifically Best Of All Possible Worlds) reminded me of this C.S. Lewis passage (specifically “Among flippant people the joke is always assumed to have been made.”)

Admitting that you are a hypocrite doesn’t get you off the hook for being one.

Chris writes (in response to my video post):

I see why you like the song. And I understand your reservations about some parts of it. I wrestle with this in regard to music, books and movies quite a bit now that my children are teenagers. I’m glad that people don’t judge me for going to movies, as I hear was once customary. Yet I’m concerned about the number of great films (The Notebook, the Bourne trilogy, The Guardian) where the heroes display such courage, loyalty, commitment, so many good qualities, yet send the message that premarital sex is no problem.

Well, first I would say that with rare exception, American Christians (including me) are too interested in entertainment and would do well to experience less of it, or be more judicious.*

And Yes, rare also is the movie where premarital sex isn’t shown or hinted at. It’s an accepted and expected practice, unfortunately.

One question one can ask is – does this movie cause me to sin? Showing sin (even as an excepted practice) will not necessarily cause me damage. Then the question becomes do I want to support this movie by buy paying for it at the box office or the rental store.

I’m new to your blog, but I’m wondering if you and some of your readers might be willing to share how and why you handle these things in regard to your own choices, and in regard to your kids–if there’s even a difference.

Well, our kids are younger than yours so this is somewhat less of a (but not a nonexistent) problem. We have, for example, watched the original Star Wars trilogy with them, which I feel to be pretty harmless, but not the new trilogy, which is darker and is more morally confused.

We have been fairly liberal in letting the kids watch the Olympics, and they have pointed out that some of the girls outfits are “not modest”. It is good that they are aware of this, but it is possible to be aware of it and still affected negatively by it. We have actually limited the games they watch because of this aspect of the games.

I’ve heard people say that we should watch those things with our kids and talk about the elements that concern us. Many kids will say, stop–you’re spoiling it–when their parents talk about things in movies.

It’s not so hard in some ways. When our kids want to watch something that’s just silly, mindless, and ridiculous, like the Benchwarmers, we just point out that the bad language, risque elements–Jesus died because of those things.

This seems to me a little dangerous – It seems like you could use this to justify watching anything.

It’s easy to say no to that. But with film, drama, lyrics, writing that is more meaningful–where we are watching, listening, or reading not merely for entertainment–to sit back and relax–well, maybe the original intent was to watch for entertainment but then we find that there is really something to chew on, something that changes us because we’ve seen, read, or listened to it. When there’s something in the lyrics that hits home–I’m thinking of a song by Aerosmith–that kind of music has been off my radar for so long–yet for the kids in our church, there’s such a draw. I hope you understand what I’m asking.

I have felt myself drawn to secular entertainment that speaks to where I am or where I have been. But having an insight into the condition of man does not necessarily make it wise to watch. So I am finding myself having to be careful with this defense.

There is always the other good question you can ask (and yes, I am not the first to think of it): If you were to guess what God would say if you asked him if you (or your kids) should experience this entertainment, what do you think He would say? You might not always have a clear answer to this, but you might more often than not.

Thanks for any insight you can share.

Does anyone else have any suggestions or thoughts?

* a good way to do this with movies is to click on the “Screen It” Link on the right side of this page.

This weekend we hosted a backyard party which was a reunion of six couples (and their kids) who met in our college choir (tenors and sopranos).  Our kids had a good time together and we got caught up and talked about past choral triumphs.

Traditional for when we get together is the playing of a game of croquet. And traditional at the beginning of this game is the singing of the National Anthem. If you think that six men who sing well and like to sing, and are skilled at singing parts doesn’t result in a rockin’ great rendition of the Star Spangled Banner, think again.

Our wives, 100 feet away, stopped their conversation and listened. And clapped afterward.

Everything I Ever Needed To Know I Learned From Second Timothy

Fan into flame the gift of God.  *** God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. *** Do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord  *** Share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began *** I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me. *** Be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus  *** Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. *** An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. *** It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops. *** The Lord will give you understanding in everything. *** Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David.

*** If we have died with him, we will also live with him

if we endure, we will also reign with him;

if we deny him, he also will deny us;

if we are faithless, he remains faithful ***

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. *** Avoid irreverent babble *** God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.” *** If anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work. *** Flee youthful passions *** Pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. *** Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. *** The Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness.

Things I don’t like about this song/video

1. The Presence of the D-word (Twice!)
2. The Presence of ScanClad (but it’s pretty brief)
3. The Desciption of ‘Our Right To Be Loved’ as God-forsaken. Not quite.

Things I like about this song/video

. . . By The Numbers

Picnics: 9
Geocaches found: 12
State Park Historical Geocaches found: 7
Total Geocaches found (last two years):101
Steep Hill hikes: 6
Miles hiked: 5? 8?
Complaints from kids: shockingly few, now that I think about it.
Complaints after I promised ice cream: 0
Twisted or Sprained Ankles: 0 (A gift from God)
Minutes of Television Watched: 0
Number of mice spotted in cabin and caught in trap: 1 (My First Mouse Kill!)
Dollars Spent where we experienced the most joy (Caribou Falls): 0
Max people counted on the more popular side of Artist Point in Grand Marais: 75
Person Count on the less popular (but cooler) side of Artist Point: 10 (including us)
Temperature of the water we waded in at this point: 40? 50? (It felt great in the warm sun)
Number of Attempts required to take a timer shot of our whole family across the creek from where the camera was (I had to run fast): 4
Our Gratefulness to God for creating it all for us: A lot, but not enough.


Number of blog posts in-a-row on the subject of our vacation: 4 (which is enough, I think)

The sweet pungent odor eminating from the red pine trees, lychen and berry bushes at the top of a look-out peak (say, for example, in Tettegouche State Park) on the North Shore (within sight of Lake Superior in one direction and High Rolling Hills in all others) is one of the most pleasure-giving olfactory gifts of God a person can ever experience.

We have a yearly tradition, here at Cascade lodge, where I give my wife a break and take the six kids up the Cascade creek (which flows past our cabin – not to be confused with the Cascade River) from Lake Superior, up as high as we can go. It’s a bit of a challenge for young kids as we climb over rocks and around tree roots and under fallen logs. But we managed to go quite a bit farther upland than the  Lake Superior Hiking Trail.  This we did yesterday morning.

Then yesterday evening night all eight of us hiked up to the top of Oberg Mountain and picnicked overlooking the lake on an evening so clear that we could see Wisconsin on the other side.

So for the kids and I this was two hikes with a total elevation change of more than 500 feet. And we all really enjoyed it.

Today: Temperance

Did you know that Lake Superior is the largest fresh water lake in the world as measured by surface area (which is surely a much more reasonable way of measuring a lake’s bigness than water volume) with much of its shoreline unspoiled?

Did you know that Cascade Lodge is one of the oldest resorts on this lake?

Did you know that some call Grand Marais the Princess of Lake Superior?

That’s where we’re headed in about an hour. We’ll be the large family in the large tan (some might say Golden) van.

It is good to have in your life both someone you respect who sees flaws in everything you do, and someone you respect who sees greatness in everything you do.

. . . that Bethlehem is not a completely dry place.

(Although you may have to look else where for proof we have good poets.)

Last Sunday I went to the quarterly meeting and learned (to my shock and dismay) that (if I understand correctly) Bethlehem (up until last Sunday) had no deacons! Or no process to established new deacons! Or something! And this despite the clear biblical teaching that churches should have them and the fact that they were extant in the early church.

And there was great discussion and debate and a non-zero amount of confusion about what defines a deacon (Is it a person or a position?) And in the end we elected 8 new deacons. And there was much rejoicing.

So now I read that one of our most highly placed pastors has penned a hymn about this.

MARVEL at the goofiness! STUMBLE over the word ‘Qualifications’! WONDER how one ‘beaks’! IGNORE the fact that some lines have too many syllables!

I enjoyed it.

My Wife’s Blog

My State Park Blog

Promotion – Songs To Help Families Memorize Scripture

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August 2008