The Thoughts of Gunnar

We Are of Our Father’s Making
November 16, 2013, 12:22 pm
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This is from a letter I recently wrote to a group of awesome folks.  Perhaps you will find it beneficial as well.  I know I personally do.  I need to read it myself often.

Dear Beloved Saints of (town name deleted),


as time was taken to inquire of His mind concerning some encouragements to write to you, I recalled the process by which fine dessert wines are made.


Dessert wine, if you have never had the chance to enjoy one, tastes much different than typical wine, mainly in that it is much, much sweeter.


The most popular dessert wines are made through a process called noble rot. As opposed to when grapes would be normally picked for the typical wine, the grapes are left on the vine.  While there, they end up getting attacked by a mold called the noble rot.  It can form and cover the grape rather well at times.  The grape will often begin to get into raisin mode in this process.


For some of the most valued dessert wines, the winemaker waits until literally the last minute before the grape will fall off of the vine (creating much more expense and resources dedicated to the wine-making process).  The grape is literally about to die…but at the last second, it gets captured and put into the hands of a talented winemaker who then, by the nature of those grapes or their fruit, as opposed to anything previously harvested, makes their sweetest wine of the season, often referred to as a ‘late harvest’ wine. Here in the states, many consumers of this type of wine save it for a special occasion.


What if our Lord, the Lord of the harvest Himself, wants to exercise His sweet tooth with you, His saints?  What if some of the misunderstandings, temporary discouragements,  or seeing others accomplish something while we seemingly wait, is actually part of the master winemaker’s perfect plan to let us all sit on the vine, even while we begin to rot, only to set us up for the last minute to be made into some of the sweetest wine ever produced?  What if, unbeknownst to us, we are not just rotting, but our rotting is actually noble? What if we have seen harvest in others all around and it tempts us to doubt, only to open us up to the realization that we were born for such a time as this, and in His grand banquet and grand scheme, we are destined to be mixed in with other brothers or sisters (“grapes”) into a late harvest wine, a wine that the winemaker goes to painstaking lengths, takes greater risks with, and puts more resources into than other wines?  What if, unbeknownst to us, it has all been an expression of His great favor on our lives?


Many folks actually do not have a taste for normal wine and have difficulty picking up on its nuances.  Dessert wines end up being more palatable to many due to its different characteristics.  Its highlights can often be more readily noted, even by the untrained palette.  And so it will be with those who are about to taste the wine that the Lord produces in the saints of (town name deleted)!


Report Card For Sesame Street Characters
May 21, 2010, 8:11 am
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Report Card on Various Sesame Street  Characters (Muppet Show Coming Next)

Mr. Snuffaluffagus– Lame.  Totally lame.  At first, people thought he was just an imaginary friend of Bigbird, but at some point in the history of Sesame Street, others saw him…and that gave ‘Snuffy’ more airtime.  I think we’d all be better off if Snuffy got snuffed out.  He is always complaining, and brings nothing to this show to spice it up.  While I am guilty of having spent too much of my life complaining, complaining seems to just about be Snuff’s whole life. His voice should have a name of it’s own: The Perpetual Whine. Think about it: close your eyes, and when it comes to really weighing what Snuffy is saying, how is he different than Oscar the Grouch? At least Oscar comes out and says, “Hey, I’m a grouch.”  Snuff lacks the vulnerability to come out and say who/what he is.  Here is an example of video from Snuff…have fun with the boredom!

Bigbird-complete waste of space character.  Name one thing Bigbird has done that you can find remotely entertaining.  I dare you.  There isn’t any. Even as a kid, if Bigbird is on, you are left hanging, only staying tuned because perhaps in a few minutes, Bert and Ernie will make an appearance again.  Bigbird reminds me of an entrenched politician who has been in office way to long and desperately needs to get voted out, only serving by sitting in his office, smoking cigars, and making legislation thousands of pages long to bore its readers into tears and keep his stranglehold on the power-but when on camera, is as nice as can be.  As you can see in this video, this may be Big Bird’s funniest video yet, and not even Jimmy Kimmel can help make BigBird truly entertaining:

Grover–  I’d have to give Grover a C+.  This is based mostly on positive memories of him from childhood, as opposed to how I perceive him today.  Otherwise, he’d score a lower grade.  He operates in a bit of denial since he always screws things up and doesn’t quite grasp that, but, SuperGrover was just plain awesome back in the day.  And at least he tried to be helpful while being entertaining, whereas Bigbird and his close pals would have been effective viewing as a form of punishment.  Here is some classic Supergrover action:

Cookie Monster–  Solid ‘A.’ Seriously, who did not want to live like him for a moment, not care what anyone else thought of them, and just eat any cookie in sight?  He is a devastatingly bad influence on any child, in my opinion, but, that is kind of what makes him so entertaining.  Despite his complete lack of control, there is no pretention: Cookie Monster knows who he is, knows he needs help, but decided he doesn’t want it.  While dark, it is honest, and he lets it be seen for what it is.  And if he can try to win some redemption by teaching you to count while eating cookies, hey, at least there is that.  When he ends up in little skits where he wears costumes and whatnot, that is always awesome, and self depreciating.

The Count–  I’d give him a B-.  He is cool, just a bit too one dimensional. (Which still makes him more entertaining than any of those Twilight characters.)    His obsession does have some intrigue, but really, he needs to mix it up with other characters more often.  Him and Bert getting in a fight would be kind of cool.  I’d pay-per-view that. He could count successfully landed blows.  It be great to see him mix it up by bringing some spelling or manners training into the equation. In this video, the Count gets extra points from me by completely shafting Kermit the Frog.  Who, frankly, needs to get shafted.

Elmo-Elmo didn’t exist back in my Sesame Street prime, and I have mixed feelings for him now.  I think he is currently way too overused, and he does some sissy stuff.  He reminds me of Daniel LaRusso from the Karate Kid…just a complete whipped wimp, but occasionally he has that upset victory, as in this complete championship Sesame Street video: Is it just me, or does Elmo look like a hairy, overgrown zit?  He often gets the attention of guest stars, and gets hooked up with them for songs.  Why does Ernie not get this?  He would be so much better.  As a side note, Elmo’s dad is completely awesome.  Elmo must take after his mom, and she must be ultra-lame to water down the DNA Elmo’s dad contributed to the game.

The Grouch-Just like the Count, you know where he is coming from at all times.  I do like how his twisted and negative nature will force other characters to stay on their toes, and for that, I have to give him credit.  But otherwise, he is just lame.  And I can still hear my mom saying something like, “Don’t be an Oscar the Grouch” and me not wanting to listen to her about it.  Despite my lack of buy in concerning Oskar, I don’t want him to be cut from the show like Bigbird should be, because he brings balance.  It would be intriguing to see if he could win Elmo over to the dark side, along the lines of the emperor and Anakin Skywalker.  Here, The Grouch mixes it up with the very best of the best, Johnny Cash.  This made Grouch’s career:

Bert-B+.  Obviously, on his own, Bert would get an F-, but, since he provides the counterbalance for who I think the strongest Sesame Street character is, Ernie, Bert gets a record amount of extra credit points.  Bert is solid on oatmeal and pigeons, and other than that, being a party pooper.  Inside his predecessor to SNL’s Conehead’s dome, I honestly think he is consumed with first ignoring, and then trying to bamboozle Ernie’s epic adventures.  While there have been many, unfair, and unfounded, rumors about Bert on the internet, (we’ll leave it at that) I think one who thinks would realize that Bert has been roomates with Ernie and put up with the clashing personalities for a reason: Bert is highly motivated by saving money.  Think about Bert’s character for a second: do you think that Bert does not double audit his bank statements at the end of the month, and is not currently aware of what the S&P 500 are doing?  Bert is a saver, I tell you, and he is frugal.  And that is a primary motivator in his life.  Someone deny to me that you could not see Bert as an accountant or tax man.  Here, see Bert’s unadulterated passion for pigeons.

Ernie-A+.  The saving grace of the whole cast.  The one most people are willing to wait to see, wading through incredible depths of mediocrity and outright lameness, only to get a few moments of Ernie, doing the things he does. The only character gifted enough to carry his own sitcom.  If all of the sudden a crossover children’s show was created, and Bob The Builder, (the king of true, masculine, toddler cartoon stuff) had to choose one Sesame Street character to come over to his show, he’d choose Ernie, no doubt.  And that is not a claim on Ernie’s work ethic…that just shows how lame all the other characters are.  Because Ernie would be clowning it up on that construction project.  But Bob would have to choose Ernie just for his show not to get inundated with massive amounts of lameness, and while Cookie Monster is awesome, he’d just be taking a nonstop lunch break on the construction set. Here, Ernie spoils Bert’s day, (or in this case, night) once again:

Baby Bear-I don’t feel like battering baby bear, so I am going to set him up with a strong video for his support. (I can only handle so much disdain in one day.)  It gets really good at about the 3 minute mark.  Often, Baby Bear is paired with lame characters, it seems, but he also gets moments such as this:

I’d have to give Baby Bear a solid B.

I’ll be working on my Muppet Show grades shortly.  That will take some more time.

Restaurant Review: Syun Izakaya
June 20, 2009, 8:00 pm
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Located in the old library in downtown Hillsboro, diagonally across the street from the courthouse, this place is it.  Period.  I have not seen a Japanese restaurant counterpart in the Portland area, myself that can match this. (It may exist, I just have not met it!) And it is in downtown Hillsboro!

I just ate here again tonight, and I believe it was my eighth time there.  The restaurant has switched the menu around a bit over time, now being a style of Japanese pub that serves up small dishes instead of entrees, with sharing encouraged.  No matter, just as my first visit there up until know, I have not encountered a dish there that is anything less than outstanding.

Of particular note, I am a smoked salmon connoiseur of sorts, and their sashimi plate of salmon is the absolute best, hands down, I can find anywhere .  Incredibly rich and buttery, I could eat about 6 plates of that alone.

The sushi here can match anyone’s, and while they have won awards for it several times from Citisearch, don’t let it distract you from going all out with the fantastic salads, appetizer dishes, and anything else they offer.  And there is no way you can afford to miss desert.  Every one of them, (I know, personally) is worth it.

If you really want to give Syun Izakaya justice, make reservations for 6 to 8, and order most all of the menu to share.

While you can drop some money on the spirits, wine, and saki here, the food is unbelievably priced when compared with the presentation and quality the restaurant offers.  Danielle and I had an wonderful dinner for only $43, which plenty of selection to share.  With 6 to 8 people splitting the bill, you can live large while not dropping too much dough.

How I ate Crap, Literally.
June 2, 2009, 6:27 pm
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Life can be tough.

So, Danielle made some fantastic enchiladas, with some brown sauce on them, and late Sunday, I was eating them out of the cooking dish, just loving it.

Afterwards, I picked up Lincoln, and held him on my chest as we watched a few videos.

A few minutes later, I noticed I must of spilled some enchilada on my shirt, because it was all over the front.  Of course, I had to dip my finger in it because the sauce Danielle made was so good.

Problem was, it wasn’t enchilada sauce on my shirt.  It was Lincoln’s stool.

Fortunately, I had not at this point swallowed.  I could tell the taste was really bad, and I smelled my finger, and it smelled like death.  Oh, I was getting pissy fast.  (Pun intended.)

Again, not having swallowed, I got a paper towl, wiped off my tongue, and immediately began applying liberal doses of antibacterial soap to my tongue.

As a side note, I tasted a bar of soap a few times as a kid, and if you are at that stage of your life, and want to make it easier, beg your mother to use antibacterial soap.  It is better than a bar of soap, at least by my recollection.

I scrubbed my tongue like crazy.  I then prayed to God Almighty that I don’t get hepatitis or anything like that.  

Now, Danielle will verify I avoid crappy diapers in general, although I do step up from time to time to take care of business.  I hate being around crap.  So, this was literally my worst nightmare come true.  Just horrible.

Danielle laughed at it pretty hard, but I have to point out, her enchiladas are very, very good, but it may be a bad sign if one can confuse her enchiladas with human baby feces.  Just a point to consider.  

I guess my lesson learned is if I am going to continue to eat off of my shirt, I need to smell what I am eating first.

Some Thoughts on Acts 2:42
May 26, 2009, 7:45 pm
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In this passage, the Bible says to be DEVOTED to the teaching of the apostles, to fellowship, the breaking of bread together, and to prayer. (And shortly thereafter, the scripture says they gathered together DAILY at their homes.)

Devoted is a really, really strong word.  And so is the word ‘daily,’ in this context.  What I want to get at is, if we are part of groups that really only end up meeting once a week, (or that is all the gatherings we attend,) there is no way, long run, your church experience will suffice as when held to this passage in the new testament.  At least in my practices, I have never been part of a group where gathering only once a week, for even 4 to 5 hours, could possibly suffice for our needs to be devoted to the teachings of the apostles, or to devotion to fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to prayer.  

I am believing more and more each day we were all meant to be in such an environment.  Sure, it may look different for some than others, and I also respect ‘seasons’ of our lives where perhaps one of those four things gets more time than others for a spell.  But at the end of it, I would think it would be well for our lives if we can say, “In my following of Jesus Christ, I was devoted to Him in these four areas.”  Apparently, that plan was sufficient for the church at the very beginning.

I also find it interesting how those devotions were listed immediately after the church SUCCESSFULLY handled growing from 120 to 3120, in one day!  This passage struck me recently, when I was thinking of how many sermons (A LOT!) I have heard about ‘preparing, and being ready for the harvest.  Well, I’d say going from 120 to 3120 a day is a pretty fantastic harvest.  And their ‘program’ (I am using ‘program’ tongue-in-cheek) was again, being devoted in those four areas, amongst some other things listed through verse 44.  The math on that is for every believer that was there at the beginning, 26 new ones were added, IN ONE DAY. 

My prayer for myself today is that I choose to live devotion to Jesus and His wisdom DAILY, and while life has many things that will come my way, I will not stop being devoted to knowing His Word and the teachings of the apostles, I will not stop being devoted to fellowshipping with my brothers and sisters in Christ, that I will break the bread with spiritual (and real) family God has given me, and that I will not stop being devoted to prayer-all on a daily basis.

I Lied In My Last Blog
February 25, 2009, 6:04 am
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My review of the Frank Viola book Reimagining Church is coming…but in my last blog, I mentioned that I may give away many copies of this book, I, this time, would be keeping one for myself. I lied, apparently. My great buddy Rod left on a trip to Costa Rica for 4 days, and after hearing me sing the praises of the book a few times, implored me to loan it to him for his trip. Thus, not only did I lie about always keeping a copy for myself,–that copy is now halfway around the world!
When Rod gets it back to me, my review is coming.
As a hint, I LOVED chapter 7…and it is a bit of an appetizer, so to speak, of Frank’s next book coming out.

Frank Viola’s Reimagining Church Part 1
February 20, 2009, 10:27 am
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Frank Viola’s Reimagining Church Part 1.

I am just finishing up reading Reimagining Church for the second time.  (Full disclosure, more like the 1.5th time, if there is such a thing.)

I will be blogging shorty with much more detail, but I did want to take a few moments to share some heartfelt thoughts  concerning the book, such as in, “you really,  really, really need to read it.”

More than just being a bit of a church historian, theologian, and passionate speaker into church ecclessiology, what Frank is really gifted at, through his writing, is giving us a much better pair of eyeglasses to read the Word of God with, so to speak. Instead of reading into the Word with glasses that are of a truly innapropriate wineskin, his writing provides glimpses that open up so many scriptural truths, mandates, and principles have have tragically been overlooked, and at what I fear at a great cost to the church itself.   The insights of myself and many friends who I discuss and attempt to live the Word of God out with has been deeply enriched due to exposure  to many of Frank’s works.

Reimagining Church is no exception to this:  in fact, I feel it is one of his strongest works to date in that vein.  There is not one book that I know of that Frank has written that I have  not read…and I am even talking about earlier versions of many of his more updated, current books.  Reimagining Church holds a very special place in my library, due  to Frank really bringing some of his passions and heart together in an effectivly powerful unveiling, providing a generous glimpse into the awesome things God has in store for His family, His home, His son’s very body and bride.  More than any other author, I have given Frank’s books to those I deeply care about.  At times, I have, at a real feeling of risk to me, given away a last copy of one of Franks books.  I AM DEFINATELY KEEPING A COPY OF THIS BOOK!  (Just  to provide more thought for that last statement, I have worked for a publishing company I absolutely LOVE, and had  complete access to free books to give away, and I am not sure if I have even given away as many of those books as I have Frank’s!)

More coming later…but I’d much rather drink caffeinated beverages with you and discuss  your thoughts on the book too!