Thanks, Ronald. You’ve done it. You’ve become the only decent cup of coffee in the fair village of Sebewaing.

I am sitting in Ronald’s dining room right now, experiencing first hand what it is to taste decaf but smell McNuggets and McBeef McExtract.

This place could use a StarBucks or, at least, a Tim Hortons. If they bring in a Timmy Ho’s, please keep the donuts.

I say all of that as a setup for this: we are creatures of habit. It throws me off to not have commercialized brew at mu fingertips. It bugs me that I’m drinking RonaldJava instead of something, well, normal for me. I am already plotting where to put the Coffee place. It will go inside of the thumb area’s first Border’s Books – right here in Sebewaing.

I am spoiled. I’ve got it too good.
Maybe this is actually beneficial for me. Maybe it’s a good check on what I truly deem important.

Sebewaing, Michigan

I’m spending this week at BayShore Camp, nestled between the Saginaw Bay and the Michigan Sugar Company.  My job is to lead music/worship for “big church”, lead a morning Bible study on the book of Philippains, direct the camp Choir and eat copious amounts of food.

When I’m not serving in these capacities, I have time to try and recharge.  Since I’m regularly getting over 8 hours of sleep per night for the first time in, well, years, I don’t need to take a nap during the day.  I’m finding great joy in wandering around the town of Sebewaing, complete with my iPhone 3G-S, whcih takes some pretty outstanding pictures considering that it’s a telephone.

As I’ve walked around Sebewaing, I notice right off that this town is a strange mix of nice, well maintained cottage homes that share the same street as giant steel bohemoth warehouses.  Try to imagine standing in the driveway of Grandma’s house.  Picture the perfectly manicured lawn (by Grandpa) and the frilly curtains in the window.   Smell the fresh bread or pie or whatever your Grandma tended to bake, if anything.  Notice the giant oak tree, the small pond in the back and the lamppost out front, the same one that your Great-Grandpa converted from gas to electric in 1931.

Now — while standing in the same place, turn around 180 degrees and get a glimpse of the neighbors across the street.

Imagine a giant wall of steel, loading docks with blinking green or red lights and the smell of burning sugar.  Hear the sound of a grain-sorter whirring away at an altitude of 50 feet above street level.  Hear the train?  You should.  It’s about to run over your toes.  Steel toed?  Oh, you still might want to move.  I would recommend hiding at Grandma’s.

Sebewaing is a delightful mix, a meeting of two totally different creatures.  On one side of the street, residental neighborhood.  Across the way, a building that stands 3 stories and spans a quarter mile.  These two coexist beautifully, which is a great feat considering that there is no buffer space.  I’ve never seen such a juxtaposition of heavy industrial and rural living.  Oh, you see the occasional grainery that sits in the corner of a town, but I’ve never seen this extreme.  With factories, homes and the beauty of the Saginaw Bay being snuggled together so tightly — well, words aren’t enough.  Here are some pictures that capture (somehwat poorly) the amazing mix in Sebewaing:

Hello Neighbors!
Hello Neighbors!
Right Across from Grandma's House
Right Across from Grandma's House
A Main Stretch in Sebewaing.  Downtown stands by in the distance.
A Main Stretch in Sebewaing. Downtown stands by in the distance.
Please... watch out for forklifts.  For your health.  Does YOUR neighborhood have a sign like this?  Me neither.
Please... watch out for forklifts. For your health. Does YOUR neighborhood have a sign like this? Me neither.
Why do they make water towers sky blue?  Isn't that like camouflage to planes?
Why do they make water towers sky blue? Isn't that like camouflage to planes?
If you have a Jeep, this is a good sign.
If you have a Jeep, this is a good sign.
I can now say that I've driven in the Saginaw Bay.  I was only stuck for a couple of minutes.
I can now say that I've driven in the Saginaw Bay. I was only stuck for a couple of minutes.
This is where the unimproved road ended or continued, depending on your 4x4 worldview
This is where the unimproved road ended or continued, depending on your 4x4 worldview
Train Tracks-a-plenty.  This line runs right next to the campground.  They usually get the switching started around 10:30PM.
Train Tracks-a-plenty. This line runs right next to the campground. They usually get the switching started around 10:30PM.
BayShore Camp Tabernacle.  My view from the MusEvangelist seat.  The KORG TR-88 stands by, ready for the next set.
BayShore Camp Tabernacle. My view from the MusEvangelist seat. The KORG TR-88 stands by, ready for the next set.

Yes, I’m having a good time.  I’ll be happy to get home to my wife and kids.  Many have asked why they’re not here with me.  I just can’t imagine saying to Emily “Hey, could you keep the kids busy while I go and galavant on a keyboard for 4 hours?”  Maybe in a year or two, they’ll be ready for their own camp experiences.  I get the feeling that they’d love this place.  Perhaps I’ll bring them out here someday and have the joy of watching them experience their first forklift.

Family Camp Irony

I’m spending this week leading worship and speaking at a family camp in Michigan’s favorite opposable — the thumb. God has been here and is great; the people are wonderful; the food is great. However, the irony is that I’m at a family camp without my family. Emily and the kids are back home. The camp I’m at has been gracious in offering a place for the whole gang, but we decided it would be challenging to keep our offspring properly wrangled. As it turns out, the doors have locks. Perhaps it would have worked ok.

I wish they were here.

It’s ok. I’ll be home soon. And ministry will have happened. And I will hug my wife and children tight (not too tight, though). And the Lord gets the glory. And I’ll smell like camping. And all will be just fine.

PS: Happy birthday to you. You know who you are.

Sam and His Club

Today we make our bi-monthly trip to Sam’s Club, which means two things:

  • We can get 10 pounds of Animal Crackers for the price of 9 pounds.
  • The kids can eat free lunch, thanks to a conglomeration of microwaves and kind, begloved old ladies.

I have gotten into the habit of buying in bulk and tracking how long it lasts.  On May 4, we purchased a large crock of Country, by which I mean “Country Crock”.  It still resides in our refrigerator, waiting to be spread on bread, bread that has been toasted, muffins, frying pans and bee stings.  We also bought like 90 pounds of Cascade dishwasher detergent which is also ready to deter the filth on our dishes, including old dried up Country Crock.

What, then, do we need?  We need Animal Crackers.  We need milk.  We need cheese.  Why not buy a cow?  Oh, at Sam’s Club, you can’t just buy one cow; you have to get the six pack.  See…that’s where they get ya.

Other than that, we’ll pick up whatever strikes us as the right thing to get.  A palette of Altoids?  Curiously heavy.  A bin of honey?  Great, except for the honey that leaks everywhere.  A stack of plasma TV’s?  Not on my credit card.  Exchanging my plasma for a plasma TV?  If you wanna talk, then by all means — let’s talk.


People come to radblog for many reasons.   Well, three big ones at least:

1. They love the BMX movie “RAD” and have been aching for a place to cohort.

2. They are concerned about radiation and want to read a blog about it.

3. They are my mom.

Others search blogs and are looking for people’s opinion about stuff.  One ‘hot topic’ has been a discussion about bible translations.  As you may or may not know, I am a Christian and work at a Church which aims to make and develop more Christians.  We use the Holy Scriptures — the Bible — as a specific, intentional and accurate rendering of God’s Word to all the world.  Since the Bible plays such a crucial role in our understanding of who God is, the revelation of Jesus the Son as our Redeemer and the ministry of the Holy Spirit in our hearts and lives, we take its translation very seriously.  As an English-speaking individual who serves mostly other English-speaking individuals, it is important to have a Bible that is rendered in English.  I don’t read Greek (fluently) or Hebrew (at all), nor do my Nascar-watching, 9-5 “working for the weekend” friends and neighbors.  The need for God’s Word is great; so is the need to be able to understand and apply it in our lives.

This is where the Bible translation issue arises.  What is the balance between accuracy and readability?

For a good 25 or so years, the New International Version (NIV) has risen close to the top of the list of often used translations of Scripture.  Many churches use the NIV in their pews, preaching and publication*.  It is readable yet trustworthy — mostly.  The translation team that oversaw the NIV Bible used a mix of Essentially Literal translation and Dynamic Equivalence.  EL takes the original language and renders it as closely as possible in 20th century English, aiming for a “word for word” translation.   DE takes the original language and sees sentences and pericopes (paragraphs) on a wider plane, aiming to do a “thought for thought” translation.  It might look something like this.

Original: Ho!  Everyone that is thirsty, cometh to the well!

Essentially Literal: Hey!  Everyone that is thirsty, come to the well!

Dynamic Equivelance: Listen, if you’re thirsty then come and take water from the well.

The Message: Yo!  We have this well, y’all.  And wouldn’t you know it, it’s chock full of the H2O, you know what I’m layin’ down?  So get the wet stuff out of the hole in the ground and put it down your gullet!  You’ll feel better then, yo.

I should mention that my rendering of The Message is just a joke and a playful jibe against a “translation” of Scripture that is not a translation at all, but rather Eugene Peterson’s masterfully done thought for thought rendering.  It’s the “you might say it this way” version that has a lot of plusses and only a few minuses.  One plus is that it often puts a familiar verse in a new light.  One negative is the fact that it’s someone’s take on the Scripture instead of the Scripture itself.  I see it as more of a commentary and use it as a side tool to better understand the Scripture.

I like the English Standard Version (ESV) because it uses the Dynamic Equivalence translation approach, aiming to render the original language in such a way that it retains its intended message.  What I don’t like about the ESV is that 1) it can get a little tough to understand and 2) it sways Calvinist.

First, with the whole tough to understand thing.  Shouldn’t the Bible be a bit of a mystery?  I mean, it’s the Word of God!  We should make it our aim to study something to understand it; if that means a few more moments on a strangely worded passage, that should be OK.  I agree.  But I also know what it’s like to have the audience of 6-12th graders for 20 minutes, and the ESV surpasses the attention and comprehension levels of most teens.  This has been my experience.  It’s a tough balance, because I would rather they start out with the ESV and have the most accurate translation on hand.  Yet, I want their week at camp/retreat to be transformative, not cerebral.  Most teens have NIVs or NLTs — I have yet to see a teen in my circles that uses an ESV.

The whole Calvinist thing is simple: I’m a Wesleyan/Arminian.  The ESV was not translated for us per se.  This is especially obvious in the ESV study bible, which follows 5-point Calvinism to a tee.  I could never recommend to a congregation that they get the ESV study bible, at least, not without offering the disclaimer that I don’t agree with the study notes.  Wouldn’t that be confusing to some people?

I mentioned the NLT — New Living Translation.  I love the NLT.  It is a Dynamic Equivalence translation that puts things in plain English.  That’s my plus.  The minus is the fact that it often softens the intentionally sharp edge on Scripture.  Commands come off more like suggestions for a good life.  At the same time, some might argue that God sounds “mean” in the ESV — especially teens.

So… I use all three.  I have at my fingertips all three translations.  I love them all for different reasons, as stated above.  I get bogged down when I start thinking about which one to teach/preach from.  My denomination uses the NIV primarily, though I know of more and more Free Methodist Pastors who use the ESV.  The day that I see an ESV pew bible in a Free Methodist Church will be huge, at least for me.

Right now, when I preach/teach, I use the NIV.  Here’s why:

  1. It’s common.  I want people to be in their own bibles, so I want them to be reading what I’m reading and find following along to be relatively easy and not a chore.
  2. It’s fairly trustworthy.  It doesn’t water down too badly.
  3. I know it.  My brain “thinks” NIV.
  4. Every time I switch to either the ESV or NLT, I always switch back.  It’s a good middle ground between the two.

So, there’s where I’m at.  For deep study, I like the ESV.  For ministry, I like the NIV.  For new-in-the-faith, I like NLT.

New Interweb Browser: Google Chrome

I work at a certain radio station that uses that which is against all good: the Windows Operating system. As many people have said many times in many languages, Windows is great. Many more people (nearly 10% of the computing world) have said that Windows isn’t that great, so they’ve switched to a Mac. I’ll tell you one thing that’s great about the Macintosh OS — there is no Internet Explorer, only Safari.
Since we don’t use Macs in the Radio Station, I’m stuck using Microsoft Interweb Explorer, now in color. Day after day, crash after crash, tear after salty tear… this was my life.

Until I downloaded and installed Google Chrome.

Here is my review of Google Chrome:

It works. It actually works. Use it. It’s better than IE. It’s even (I can’t believe it) better than Firefox.

So, there you go. If you’re stuck in a windows world, use Google Chrome.

No, this is not a paid advertisement. If the folks at Google want to toss me a few, I’m ready. My hands are open. John Google, founder of Google, I’m talking to you.

Penguin Rules

We spent most of yesterday at the Detroit Zoo, home of lions, tigers and bears. The Detroit Zoo is also home to a penguinarium that smells, strangely enough, like fish. You’d think that it would smell like penguins. Like me, though, you would assume incorrectly. Those penguins have a certain way of living which I will outline here on radblog:

1. Penguins must look ridiculous. This is vital to their survival in captivity, since everyone knows that zookeepers tend to feed the most ridiculous looking animal first. Have you ever noticed how big elephants are? They have vacuum cleaners for noses, which looks ridiculous — oh, and they’re HUGE. My zoological theory is that elephants have gotten larger over time due to overfeeding in captivity. My guess is that elephants were once no larger than a common feline. So, if this theory is correct, a ridiculous looking penguin will eat well, since we all tend to throw things at weird stuff.

2. Penguins must not let the world in on their little secret, namely, that they can fly. Lying buggers. If I could fly, I would most certainly tell at least someone. For those of you who remember the TV show “The Greatest American Hero”, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Or not.

3. When swimming, penguins must move with grace and beauty. When walking, penguins must move as if they slipped and fell the wrong way, landing all too perfectly on a pointy stick.

4. The smell of fish must be abundant, since it overpowers the even more pungent smell of penguins. For penguins, fish is a deodorant.

As far as I can tell, these are the rules of the penguin at the Zoo, be it Detroit, Toledo or even San Diego. I’m guessing.