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Steven S. Billings

Pic of Steve

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Friday, August 19, 2005

PIC OF THE DAY
Pic
 
This looks like the product of a photo booth.  It was in really rough shape when I found it, and took considerable time to clean.  It had a pretty nasty fold that cause the surface to crack and tear.  I'm very pleased with the way it came out.  I did save a copy of the original scan, in case anyone is interested in seeing what it looked like before its encounter with Adobe.
7:20 am edt

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

WHERE IS THE LOVE?
 
It seems appropriate for me at this time to post the lyrics for the latest song added to my list on the "Me" Stuff page of this blog site.
 
As you may have noticed from reading earlier posts, our congregation has been struggling with a very difficult decision: Do we or do we not sell our church facility?  If so, what do we do then?  Do we enter into the lease-back situation, where we will become tenants instead of home-owners?  Do we move out to the suburbs?  Do we hire/call an outreach expert to help us in our evangelism?  What sort of person would we bring onto our staff?  These questions and others have been discussed, debated, argued, etc., etc., etc.
 
What is most distressing as the pastor of this congregation is seeing the underlying issues of contention and strife rise to the surface, our hidden demons making their presence known.  And while it is a good thing to know that these issues exist, it's a little bit like a parent discovering something unpleasant about his child.  You know it's something you need to know, and you're glad that it has come to light, but really, deep-down, you wish that it wasn't there in the first place, so you wouldn't have to deal with it.
 
Thinking Christians can disagree, yet understand that each one truly believes his view is best for the church.  Good intentions need not be questioned by either side of a debate.  But they always are, sadly.  So we feel we need to castigate our opponent, to make him appear evil, so that we feel better about our position.  Meanwhile, the devil laughs and delights in his incremental destruction of the church.
 
This song is about seeing Christ in each other, despite our differences.  It's about lifting up the mandate of Christ in John 13: "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another" (John 13:34-35).

God help us all to live in His love, freely sharing His peace.

WHERE IS THE LOVE?
(In the Body of Christ)
by Steven S. Billings

Where is the love
In the body of Christ?
Where is the love?
Where is the Light?
So many churches in the world today,
Each one claiming that they teach The Way
But why does there always seem to be
Struggle and strife?
Oh, where is the love
In the Body of Christ?

We're called to be a shining city on a hill,
To love and serve each other, to do the Father's Will.
But all we do is bicker, all we do is fight.
All we do is argue 'bout who's wrong and who is right.

We say we are forgiven, no matter what we do;
It's about the love of Jesus who died for me and you.
But that leaves a question hangin' on my mind.
'Bout why the love of Jesus is still so hard to find.
Can you tell me, please . . .

Where is the love
In the body of Christ?
Where is the love?
Where is the Light?
Lookin' at the splits in the church today,
Makes me wanna fall down on my knees and pray
That by the power of God's Spirit
We'd all start livin' the life!
Oh, where is the love
In the Body of Christ?

We say that we are loving, we say that we are kind,
Yet how quickly we can move ahead and leave the rest behind.
We hide our flame under a bushel so no one else can see;
We say our faith is only "between my God and me."

But brother, let me ask you; sister tell me true;
If you have the love of Jesus, what else can you do?
Than to reach out with compassion to everyone in need
To speak the truth in love in all our words and all our deeds.
Tell me, tell me, please . . .

Where is the love
In the body of Christ?
Where is the love?
Where is the Light?
So many churches in the world today,
Each one claiming that they teach The Way
But why does there always seem to be
Struggle and strife?
Oh, where is the love
In the Body of Christ?

Do you do "praise and worship" or sing the liturgy?
Should we reserve our love for the right theology?
I can see the Spirit in everything you do
You don't have to look like me for me to know your faith is true.

Dear Father, please forgive for lovelessness we show
For lines of separation that we permit to grow
(O Lord Jesus)
If we confess together the tenets of the Creed
Can't we all worship Jesus and fall down at His feet?
(Please forgive us)
O Lord, tell us please . . .

Where is the love
In the body of Christ?
Where is the love?
Where is the Light?
Lookin' at the splits in the church today,
Makes me wanna fall down on my knees and pray
That by the power of God's Spirit
We'd all start livin' the life!
Oh, where is the love
In the Body of Christ?

10:12 am edt

Friday, August 12, 2005

PIC OF THE DAY
Pic
 
Perhaps the earliest photo of Mom I've ever seen.  The original is about 11 x 17, and is hand-tinted.
10:41 am edt

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

VACATION BIBLE SCHOOL
VBS

Here's a little synopsis of this year's VBS at our church:

Our Vacation Bible School followed an afternoon schedule, Monday, August 1 through Friday, August 5.

Our theme was: Build on the Rock.

Daily themes were:

     Monday: Build on Jesus: Jesus tells about Two Builders (Matt. 7:24-29)

     Tuesday: Jesus Give Me the Right Building Tools: The Holy Spirit Comes to Jesus' Followers (Acts 2)

     Wednesday: Jesus Builds with Safety in Mind: God Saves Noah (Gen. 6:1-9:17)

     Thursday: Jesus Built Me to Build: Two Prisoners Show Their Faith (Acts 16:16-34)

     Friday: Jesus Can Fix Anything: Jesus Raises Lazarus from the Dead (John 11:1-45)

Our Daily Schedule was as follows:

     12:30-12:45 Registration/Opening

     12:45- 1:30 Lesson

     1:30- 2:30 Music, Craft, Recess

     2:30- 2:45 Snack

     2:45- 3:15 Craft Pt. 2

     3:15- 3:30 Closing

On Wednesday evening we had a special Family Night, which included a Barbecue Dinner and a special presentation by Susan Kaiser, a missionary to Sierra Leone with Lutheran Bible Translators.  We also showed the movie The Cross and the Switchblade.

Our concluding service was held at 9:30 AM, Sunday, August 7. The children were invited to share their theme hymn for the week: Holy Ghost With Light Divine.  At 11:00 AM, we all enjoyed an ice cream social.

Every child received a tee shirt with the VBS logo on the front and the church name on the back.

2:28 pm edt

Saturday, August 6, 2005

PIC OF THE DAY
Steve
 
Notice all the "junk" in this wallet-worn pic salvaged from my mom's purse.
 
Steve
 
After about 30 minutes using Adobe, the "junk" is gone.  Yay!
6:45 pm edt

ADOBE ADORATION
 
All I can say is: "WOW!"  Ok, I can say a bit more than that. ;)
 
Since I've started scanning the family photos, I've wanted to be able to do more in terms of ramping up the quality of the scans.  Especially in the digital age, when even inexpensive cameras can produce amazing images, a scan of an aging print, even using a professional scanner, can be somewhat disappointing.  Add to that the difficulty of getting a "clean" scan.  Dust can be a real bugaboo; it's hard to keep off the prints and the scanning glass, so scans tend always to have extranious "noise" on them.
 
I've thought in the past about buying Adobe Photoshop, but the cost was always prohibitive.  Until now!  Adobe has broken up its amazing software package, making individual elements available for much lower cost.  So I bought the photo editing element.  And, as I said above ... WOW!
 
Of course, it can take some time, depending on the size of the scan (the bigger, the better), but the end result is absolutely amazing.  Those of you getting the photos via email will soon be receiving the new and improved scans.  But for a preview, today's Pic of the Day (seen above) shows the difference between a "raw" scan and a "cleaned" one.  Enjoy!
6:28 pm edt

Wednesday, August 3, 2005

PIC OF THE DAY
Joyce
 
Grandpa and kids on vacation.  Grandma must have been snapping the photo.  Niagara Falls?  Help me out here, anyone, if you know!
2:58 pm edt

Tuesday, August 2, 2005

THE WALKING AND THE QUACKING
Pic of Steve
 
No doubt, you've heard the saying: "If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck ..."  What is one to believe when the walking and the quacking don't add up to a duck?
 
The CEO of the charter school in our former parochial school, who has made the offer to purchase our facilities made the offer based on a Municipal Bond Loan which he claimed to have obtained through a major national firm, and that the financing would be finalized by the end of the Summer.  He asked us to give him an answer by the end of August so that he could complete the deal in time to begin building an addition to the school with the funds received in the loan.
 
The put us in a position to ask our congregation to make a major decision with little time to investigate the repercussions and consider all aspects of the decision.
 
Ok, I know that these things sometimes have to be crunched out this way.  And we have taken for granted that the offer was genuine and made in good faith.
 
Late last week I discovered through a reliable secondary source that the Municipal Bond Loan application had been denied.  No word from the CEO.  Could he be seeking financing through other lenders?  Of course.  But if we are being asked to make a decision under circumstances that no longer exist, we need to know that.  It mitigates against good faith to deny critical information to those who are being asked to part with something very near and dear to the heart, namely, their house of worship.
 
Two days after learning that the loan application had been denied, I learned that the Director of Instruction for the school -- a member of our church family, whose quality we well know -- had been fired by the CEO.  And, again, no mention of this to us who are being asked to place our trust in the CEO's good intentions.  None of our business, you might suggest?  I can't agree.  This is the second firing of one of our church family members.  Both of them came out of nowhere and with little or no forwarning.  I well know both individuals.  I've seen them work and know that they are top-quality educators.  I have not yet been able to determine the rationale behind the recent firing.  but I do know that of the first firing.  And I know that rationale to be highly suspect.  I also know that other individuals have left the employ of the school of their own volition because demands were made of them without also being given the proper authority and other tools to carry out those demands.
 
Someone leaving on their own ... well, that's their decision.  And when you haven't been around long enough to know either party for very long, it's difficult to determine just exactly what has transpired.  A single firing of a well-qualified person ... could be a fluke.  Could have been a personality clash.  But now another such firing, and of the calliber of one so obviously skilled and highly regarded ... the walking and the quacking just don't equal "duck."
 
If you've read previous posts, you know how strongly I argued in favor of doing something bold and risky.  Having considered this particular proposal more carefully, I have to conclude that this is not the bold move it at first appeared to be.  There is a huge difference between risky and foolish.  I think this falls within the latter category.  We'll have to look elsewhere, I think, for the Godly risk we ought to take.
6:46 pm edt

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For me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
(Philippians 1:21)

Be sure to get in touch so I know you're out there!