A Video and the Beginning of Something New…01/17/2017

I looked back over my blogging and realized that I posted once here last year. I’m hoping to start back, although in a bit of new way. In this case, as some know, I’ve become interested in film making. So to learn how to perfect this art form, I have been working on the various aspects. In this case, I have been posting videos on YouTube and Vimeo.

So to help with the blogging, I’m going to post them here. If I do the color commutes or weather videos, that will go on my weather blog. Here are two recent vacation videos from Mary and me.

The first is our September vacation during our anniversary week in Myrtle Beach, SC.

The second is when we visited Kaleb and his girl friend Kaitlin in New England.

Should I stay or should I go from Facebook…05/09/2016

I’m on the verge of leaving Facebook, again. Every time, it seems to be something similar. The drama, the imagined slights, the mob mentality. There are times when Facebook is good. It is there to share pictures, keep me in touch with my family; when they are 3 time zones  away.

And then there’s now. Posts that accuse others, shame others. The spirit of the accuser, or Ha-Satan in Hebrew. I usually stay out of most of these conversations. They begin to depress me.

It’s hard to write about these things. I try to be general in talking about what is going on, and to speak into the matter. Yet, I feel useless to do so. I’m not one to take a side, or rather I’m not one to go off on one side or another. There may be someone who is wrong, and who is right, but on Facebook, you are either with me or against me. So I stay out, further sliding into the despair. I want people restored!

Unfortunately, most want retribution. I see spirit of the accuser, running amok. Whipping up the mob, so that there is a cyber lynching. There must not be bullying, but what if the mob that was being bullied, turns into the bully? Most would say that turn about is fair play.  But in the Christian realm, we are to forgive, restore, and love, even those we do not want to love, restore or forgive.

What would I do if I left? probably remain on Instagram and YouTube, and continue taking pictures and video. Keep my blogs open.

But I know I won’t.

Star Wars 7…12/17/2015

No spoilers, No spoilers…

When I read a headline from a reviewer that said something like “the magic is back!” I was hoping for something like that…and it was!

There was a formula that called back to the originals (4,5,6), especially 4, “A New Hope.” However, that was the only thing I saw that some may quibble about. However, no matter what you see that is a call back to the old movies, there is more, and it leads you down a trail, guessing what happens next. With all the speculation from the teasers and trailers, I was wondering when something would happen and when it would appear.

There is a shocker. I don’t want to spoil that.

If you are a big Star Wars nerd like my wife and I, then you will love this story.

J.J. Abrams did well.

Transformational Love vs Behavior(cultural) Modification…11/11/2015

I’ve been trying to attend our men’s bible study at noon, when my schedule allows it. Today, we were in Daniel 5 about the hand writing on the wall. The principles to live by were good diving into  some of Paul’s teaching, which is when I got this revelation…that part of the Christian community that gets offend at Christmas about things not Christian, are trying their on version of behavior modification. This is something that I’ve had to fight in youth ministry for a long time.

Parents want their teens to be good, and if their good kid meets up with a kid that they think is disruptive, or disrespectful, then I’ve had parents wanting to kick that kid out of youth group. What they are looking for is behavior modification, and not the transformational love that God has us give.  Part of this comes from Pastor Bernie Bloukamp’s message at our church this past Sunday.

So when I see something in the news calling for some boycott, I realize that they want the change to come through cultural modification, and not through the transformative love, that God commands us Christians to do.   Do it through coercion and not loving your enemy.

Here’s a company that is using red cups with nothing on them for the holidays (or holy days if you like), and people think they aren’t christian enough. Newsflash. It is a corporation with a board of directors whose goal is only to make money. If they decide that they can make more money by being generic, then that’s their prerogative.  You only feed them more money, but complaining and giving them free advertising.

The better thing to do is show the people in the corporation love, and maybe they will come to know Christ, and in turn influence the corporation that it should show more selfless love. Maybe they will always keep their red cups, and then again, maybe not.

everyone what was right in their own eyes…10/08/2015

Recently, I’ve been pondering the way society is going. We have always had the previous generation complain about the current generation. That seems like that has always happened, and will continue. However, if you look at it biblically, it makes sense. Each time there had been a major move of God with miracles, and very well seen evidence of Him being, as the years go by, people slowly lose perspective, and they fall away. As Solomon said in Ecclesiastes, “there is nothing new under the sun.” With the youth group, I always have to say, that Solomon isn’t talking about the things we build, but rather peoples emotions and attitudes. It’s a good read, a little cynical, until the end when Solomon’s meditation of everything is futile, or vanity, or fleeting depending on your translation, brings forth the remark of

13″Now all has been heard;
    here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments,
    for this is the duty of all mankind.
14 For God will bring every deed into judgment,
    including every hidden thing,
    whether it is good or evil.”

That’s what no one wants to own up to.  As it says in Judges, “…People did whatever they felt like doing.” (Judges 21:25, Msg) and I see this within the Christian faith. As Pastor James was preaching this last Sunday, we don’t heed what God is telling us.

Some would ask me, then why doesn’t God do anything about it? I think he has been. I’m a strong believer in the idea, that God purposely limits himself to work through people. So if in your brain you get this feeling that some things are not right, and there is something you can do, then I purport that is the Holy Spirit, trying to work through you. If you say no, then he moves on to someone else, and I’m starting to think there are fewer people willing to listen.

Does Jonah Apply to us Today?…09/19/2015

I was driving around recently, as I was looking for some shots of Boyne City, and was listening to the podcast from Word of Life Church in St. Joseph, MO. They have been doing a series on some of the prophets in the Old Testament. Which got me to thinking about a few of them, when I felt like we were being given the sign of Jonah (Matt 12:38-42, and Luke 11:29-32), when Jesus was talking to the pharisees. It felt like we are missing the point on the sign of Jonah, if you stop reading a verse too short.

A lot of people stop at the verse that says (from Matt 12:38-42, The Message), “Like Jonah, three days and nights in the fish’s belly, the Son of Man will be gone three days and nights in a deep grave.” And while this is true, there is more to this section, like the next verse: “On Judgment Day, the Ninevites will stand up and give evidence that will condemn this generation, because when Jonah preached to them they changed their lives. A far greater preacher than Jonah is here, and you squabble about ‘proofs.'” Other translations are very similar with the next verse in Matthew about the Ninevites condemning this generation. I think as Stephen Grabill says in a recent Seedbed video, that the church is struggling with not being the dominate force in the culture. So we have become like Jonah. The church currently comes across as loveless, like Jonah, and would rather see our “enemies” destroyed, than repent and be saved.

So many times in my Facebook feed, I see angry Christians with their conservative bent, sharing articles that seem more like they would prefer their enemies smited, than loved in to the kingdom. If you look at Jesus who says, “take up your cross and follow me,” but little do we realize, that if we follow him, we may have to die, literally, to do his will. This may mean to challenge the status quo. However, the church isn’t into challenging it, but rather would put out anyone that doesn’t hold together with the health and wealth gospel (notice that is with a little g) afraid someone is coming for them, when they rarely step out and look at the systemic sins of our society. You know the systemic sins of society, slavery, lack of justice, or when there is justice, lack of mercy. Fear of the foreigner, etc.

I also have liberal friends that would rather that the conservatives be smited, than loved into the kingdom as well. So many times the P.C. bullies talking about microaggressions, while they use just as hurtful and words and tactics on conservatives.

Part of the problem is they all listen and put their faith into the fear mongering stations of the cable news system (and I mean all of them, from MSNBC to Fox News) which constantly spout half true, superficial stories meant to make you cower under your blanket with your guns, if you are conservative, or your drug du jour to numb you if you are liberal. They say they are there to inform you, but they are all accountable to large corporations, bent on making money and if they threaten to pull their money, then stories are whitewashed.

But what do I know…

The Feelings of People and Things Passing…04/02/2015

Grace_Building__New_York_by_olymbos01Hopefully, some will see this and read it. This has been an eventful last few days. It started off last week. Mary and I had a wonderful vacation in Phoenix with my parents and my sister’s family. Relaxing, fun, good family time. Then a few hours after my sister and her family had departed, my Uncle Dave called my dad, and told him that my eldest cousin’s daughter had passed away in her sleep at 27.

While the Lutz family is pretty big, we have all managed to stay in touch over the years. We have been watching each others kids grow up and I have gotten to know a few of them. Meredith was one. I can remember her a youngster with her brother and sister at the UM Church that served as our Thanksgiving Day meet up for most of the Lutzes. The one thing I really remember was talking to her when she was in high school, I believe it was at her grandmother’s funeral, my Aunt Tillie, most of the cousins where there then too. We had a conversation about what her youth group was doing, and I about how I was helping to lead one here in Gaylord. So when I heard she had joined Mission Year after graduating, and she had a blog for her year, I followed and commented. Her mom appreciated that I had gotten in touch with her to show support while she was there.

Since then we have kept in touch via Facebook. I was hoping that we could meet up with her during our ill-fated cruise, since it was ported out of NOLA, where she lived. However, with the cruise being cancelled and not having the money to stay in NOLA, it wasn’t going to work. So I apologized to her, and we went home. That was January, and here we are in March.

Then, this week as I prepared my lesson for youth group, my mind kept going back to a video about Ed Dobson that I saw a couple weeks ago. It is entitled “Grateful.” The series itself is about Ed Dobson’s life as a pastor, and now retired, living with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease). The people at the web site turned this into a Lenten Meditation. That’s what I used tonight. However, as I discovered, this was being grateful through suffering. So we watched the video, and talked about it. Then I shared about Meredith. Meredith was always grateful and graceful to those around her. That is probably why she has as big a family, from her church and friends in NOLA, as she does in the several states that our clan has spread out. I was able to express my grief to the youth group and show them that Jesus is with us in the suffering.

Before this last week, I wasn’t sure that I would be around for another year in youth ministry. However, after tonight God said yes you will and I am with you even in the suffering. Why such a big turn around? Because, my message hit on something that one of our seniors got home to, a grandparent passing. She called Mary and I, and said how much she appreciated the message, it ministered to her without her knowing about it until the news dropped on her.

So as people and things pass, we do suffer, but Jesus is there with us in the suffering. On of my favorite verses in the Bible is John 11:35, “Jesus wept.” It’s the shortest verse in the Bible and speaks volumes when put into the context of the death of his friend Lazarus. So during this Holy Week, when Jesus dies on Good Friday, remember that he is with us in our suffering and promises Resurrection. Or as another pastor put it, “It’s Friday, but Sunday’s coming.”

The reason for the silence…03/03/2015

There is a reason for the long absence, especially as I was blogging through my 20th anniversary of being at the South Pole. Computer problems. Yes, my system died a slow death, unable in the end to edit video.  I was hoping to work on and show excerpts from the “Memories to Make You Domesick,” video that I copied to DVD about 10 years ago, and then put that in my computer to upload to YouTube. Now that I have a new Mac Mini and a 24 inch HD TV, I’m hoping that I can get this thing off the ground. I’m hoping to get back at it soon. I just have to work on a few projects for church and work which I can now accomplish with this thing. IMG_20110818_191245

20 years ago today a great adventure took place 5…11/8/2014

United_States_Antarctic_Program_logoOh my! I got so busy in October that I forgot to blog about this. This first half of October was relatively quiet, other than I got my passport and readied myself for the journey to take place in the middle of the month. As I started writing this, I realized that there was a lot more to the end of October and the beginning of November. So, I’ll break this into 2 or 3 posts. Probably like it would have been done if I hadn’t not done them as they happened.

The middle of the month, that’s when everything began to happen. With a farewell to Mom and Dad, and  friends from around Fennville, Grand Rapids, and Detroit, I was dropped off at the Kent County International Airport. I was bound for Denver. It seems to me that the day was partly sunny, but cleared up as I made the first leg of my journey to Chicago. As I flew across the south end of Lake Michigan, there was a lake freighter that was heading north, I think. I thought that this will be the last time I see a sight like this for at least a year. I was excited for the adventure.

The next leg to Denver was uneventful, as was my catching the Super Shuttle to the hotel near the company headquarters. I checked in and kicked back.

The next day, I caught the hotel shuttle to Antarctic Support Associates with a bunch of other “Polies” and people going to McMurdo. We all had to have our “in brief” and fill out more paper work. However, by the end of the day we were all on board a shuttle to DIA again for our flight to Los Angeles. Our trip to “The Ice” had begun. Somewhere along this line, I met some of my fellow winter-overs. The 3 hours to LAX was uneventful, and I think we had  2 hour lay over for food and stuff.

Boarding the 747 for Auckland, New Zealand was a surreal moment, reflecting on it now hundreds of people streaming onto the jet ramp looking for their door to enter the plane. At the boarding get they checked your boarding pass, and that you had your passport for the other end of the flight. It was just so much different pre-9/11. The flights in and out of airports were so much more relaxed, and if there was stress, it was self imposed because you did get to your gate in time. I do remember that it was getting dark in LA as we boarded the flight. The flight itself would be the longest that I would have ever flown. This flight was 13 hours. The previous long flight for me was 8 hours from Shannon, Ireland to Bangor, Maine on the way back from Desert Storm.

I found my way to my seat, and was seated a ways away from any Antarctic people that I knew. However, I spied a young woman boarding the plane, and as every young man wishes…yes, she was assigned the seat next to me. Her name was Dani, who was from Australia. I think at the time she was getting her doctorate in molecular biology. We had a good time  chatting on the way down to Auckland. We kept in touch a bit during the year at the South Pole, but I’m not sure where she is at now.

13 hours later, we touched down in Auckland. With only a few hours of sleep, we waded through the lines at Customs. Following strange signs and such, I made it out of the international terminal and outside with my luggage. I found some other South Pole people and followed along as we made the trek to the domestic terminal for Ansett New Zealand. The flight south from"Ansett New Zealand BAe 146-300 Zuppicich" by Colin Zuppicich - http://www.airliners.net/photo/Ansett-New-Zealand/British-Aerospace-BAe-146-300/0116980/L/. Licensed under GNU Free Documentation License 1.2 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ansett_New_Zealand_BAe_146-300_Zuppicich.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Ansett_New_Zealand_BAe_146-300_Zuppicich.jpg
from Auckland to Christchurch was cloudy so not a lot to see, but there was one glimpse, as we were nearing Christchurch that seemed like we were flying down a mountain valley and the green of the grass with gray wispy clouds around us.

We touched down, and walked all of our belonging to the Antarctic Clothing Distribution Centre, or as we called it CDC. This is a center that outfits the personnel that are flying down to Antarctica, whether they be Kiwi, or American. It’s a joint venture between USAP and Antarctica New Zealand.

They checked us in and gave us our room assignments at the various bed & breakfasts, backpacker hotels and private hotels. I was assigned to The Devon Bed & Breakfast Guest House. A great place, however, as far as I can surmise was determined unsafe after the Christchurch earthquake of 2010. From Google maps satellite images, it look like it was torn down. Thus started the beginning of the journey south.

Start from the Beginning of this story.

20 Years Ago…A Great Adventure Took Place 4…09/20/2014

United_States_Antarctic_Program_logoWhen we last left our hero…sorry, I couldn’t help myself. After flying home, I had to get ready. While they supply us with lots of Extreme Cold Weather (ECW) gear, I still went out and got some of my own gear. Otherwise, I had to complete forms, get a physical (which was the first time I found out I was borderline High Blood pressure), etc. I’m still a little hazy on the details of what I did between getting hired and deploying to “the ice”. However, it was a busy time.

Oh, I do remember one thing. They flew me back to Boulder for training with the radiotheodolite  system for the upper air balloons that we launch. This was for Kathie, myself and one of the summer mets. We spent two days, I think, working with the equipment and launched a balloon. I then went back with the electronics technician that would be wintering over with us, Chip Dunn. I then flew back to Fennville, to await deployment.

One thing that I realized, is that I can add some video, once I get to the point where I’m flying down to Antarctica, I dubbed my copy of the video that we made to remember our times, onto DVD. I can load that up. I need to get a slide scanner, or at least have my slides scanned. They are stored in a good place, but it would be great if I could share some of the slides through the year.

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