Friday, September 29, 2006

Sports: 2 games to go

Padres 86-74
Dodgers 86-74
Phillies 84-76

Oh my!

It is the top of the ninth and the Dodgers are down 3-2. The Killer Tomato (Olmedo Saenz) comes through with a huge pinch hit to get the tying run across. Martin scampers home to get the lead on a wild pitch! WOW!!!

Dodgers win 4-3 over the dreaded Giants!

Sports: 3 games to go

Padres 86-73
Dodgers 85-74
Phillies 83-76

Pods vs. D'backs
Phils vs. Nats
Dodgers vs. Giants

It has been high drama day-in-day-out. Within a game, there are highs and lows from inning to inning.

The crazy 19-11 win in Colorado is yet another game that will go into the file of incredible moments of this edition of the Dodgers.

LAT's Plaschke put it this way:
September 29, 2006

DENVER - Crazy doesn't cut it. Absurd is too abstract.

There is only one way to describe the weirdness that flaked on Coors Field Thursday afternoon, decorating the Dodgers' championship hopes like so much multicolored confetti.

It was Loney Tunes.

It was a kid with eight RBIs in 45 games driving in nine runs in what seemed like 45 minutes.

It was a kid who has never hit more than 11 homers in any professional season hitting two in a span of five innings.

It was a kid making his first start in 25 days, having an afternoon to last a lifetime.

"We've had a lot of magic over these last couple of weeks," James Loney said afterward, staring wide-eyed at the reporters surrounding him. "Sitting on the bench and watching it, I wanted to be part of it."

For one game, he was that magic.

For four sweet swings, the 22-year-old rookie first baseman who has been dragged through September by this veteran-led team actually carried it.

You say altitude, the Dodgers say attitude, and they hung on to another unlikely hero in taking a 19-11 victory over the Colorado Rockies.
Dodger fans are hoping for more unlikely heros. Dodger fans will have their eyes on the goings ons at ATT Park 7:10 PM in San Francisco when slated to take the hill for the Dodgers is Hong-Chih Kuo another Dodger rookie.

His story can be found here. Excerpts:
Hong-Chih Kuo makes his first Major League start Friday night [ed. - This refers to September 8 where he went 6 scoreless innings against the Mets and got the win.] seven years and two Tommy John operations after he was signed as a 17-year-old out of Taiwan.

Kuo, signed to a $1.25 million bonus, suffered his elbow injury in spectacularly tragic fashion. In his professional debut on April 10, 2000, he struck out seven of the 10 batters he faced, blew out a ligament in his elbow, made two more pitches to end the inning, then underwent surgery.

He resumed pitching 14 months later, but problems persisted and he required the procedure again, missing the entire 2003 season. He also underwent another operation to clear scar tissue from the transplanted ligament, a common side effect. He pitched in only three games in 2004, and entered the 2005 season with a total of 40 1/3 innings pitched in five years.
Dodger hopes rest on a kid with a rebuilt arm pitching to a rookie catcher who has sparkled (Russell Martin).

It will be interesting who Little will put on the line-up card today as so many of the players are banged up. Nomar and Kent have been banged up all season but these vets have still given it their all. Furcal, a proven player and Betemit, a player with something to prove are former Braves. I'm sure they are excited to be in the hunt for October as the Braves this year will miss it for the first time in a very long time. In the outfield, three vets in Anderson, Lofton and Drew.

As the game goes on, Little will look down at the bench and have to make decisions on which of this mix of veterans, role players and rookies to plug into the game as needed.

His toughest call is the one to the bullpen. As Forrest Gump (Little has been said to sound an awful like Gump) says, Life is like a box of chocolates, you don't know what you'll get.

Yet, the Dodger bullpen at times has risen to the occasion especially rookies Broxton (22 year kid who can throw a ball through the wall) and Saito (the 36 year-old from Japan with the pin-point slider and just barely enough gas on the fastball to keep people on their toes).

This fan is cheering and groaning with each game, inning, at-bat and pitch!

Go NATS! Go D'Backs and GO DODGERS!!!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Sports: 4 games to go

4 games to go!

Game balls go all around for last night's come-from-behind win by the Dodgers over the Rockies.

Lowe wasn't at his best but didn't let it get away. Broxton and Sensational "Sammy" Saito shut down the Rocks for the final 3 innings once the Dodger's seized the lead.

Big hits by JD Drew (much maligned) to get the Dodgers back into the game and Andre Either (rookie who was hot but has been in a dismal slump) who poked in the tying run. Kent pounds out a double to get an extra insurance run.

Garciaparra is channeling Kirk Gibson by playing all out even though every part of his body is hurting. He went 3 for 4 tonight.

Padres 85-73
Dodgers 84-74
Phillies 83-75

Go Dodgers!

Go Nats! Go D'backs!

UPDATE: Sounds like a football score, the Dodgers outslug the Rockies 19-11!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Sports: the hunt for October

5 games to go!

Padres 85-72
Dodgers 83-74
Phillies 82-75

Go Dodgers!

Go Nats! Go Cards!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Sports: But what if they are tied at the end?

Padres 84-72
Phillies 82-74
Dodgers 82-74

Six games to go.

What happens if there are ties at the end?

Who goes to the playoffs?

Inquiring minds of baseball fans in San Diego, Philadelphia and Los Angeles want to know!

Well, straight from the web page, we hear that a series of coin-flips were held to determine home-field should there be ties requiring a one-game playoff to resolve.

The part important to Dodger fans:
In a flip in addition to the original 22 a week earlier, the Phillies won the right to be hosts against the Dodgers if the two teams have to play a 163rd game to determine the NL Wild Card berth.
However, what if the Dodgers are tied with the Padres for the NL West?

If the Dodgers and Padres have won the wild-card title as well then the Padres would be declared the NL West champions and the Dodgers claim the wild-card because the Padres won the regular season head-to-head play.
If two clubs from the same division are tied but both assured of participating in the postseason, then the first tie-breaker would be their 2006 season-series to determine which club is the division champion and which club is the Wild Card.
However if the Dodgers and Padres are tied for the NL West but are not leading in the wild card, then a one game playoff game will be held at Dodger's stadium because LA won the coin toss.
LA vs. SD: Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles
This Dodger fan, of course, is hoping that they go 6-0 down the stretch and the Pods falter so the Dodgers win the NL West outright!

Dream on, eh?

Think Blue!

GO Nats! Go Cards!

UPDATE: One more scenario, what if the Dodgers, Padres and Phillies are tied at the end? says this:
If San Diego, Los Angeles and Philadelphia finish the season with the same winning percentage, the games will be played as follows:
San Diego and Los Angeles would play Monday in Los Angeles to determine the NL West champion.
The loser of the Padres-Dodgers game would then travel to Philadelphia to play the Phillies on Tuesday for the NL wild-card berth.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Sports: What a fan is is what a fan does?

I went online to try to buy Dodger post-season tickets.

NLDS LA game 1 and 2 were all gone but game 3 was not. Game three will only happen if the Dodgers win the NL West which is very difficult being 1 1/2 games behind with six to go and a Padre team on a roll and the NLDS goes to a deciding fifth game.

NLCS game 1 was all gone. I didn't bother to check the other games.

So in case you are wondering, I did buy the NLDS LA game 3. I have 4 seats in the upper outer reserve on the 3rd base side.

I didn't buy any NLCS tix. I don't have THAT much FAITH in the Dodgers!

UPDATE: Go Houston! Go Cards!

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Sports: Nomar does it again!

Went to my sixth game at Dodger stadium today and it was another dramatic finish! Nomar hit a walk off grand slam to keep the Dodgers in the race in the 5-1 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Last Monday, Nomar hit a walk-off two-run homer to give the Dodgers an 11-10 victory over the Padres!

There are 6 games left. The Dodgers are 1 1/2 game behind San Diego in the NL West and 1/2 game behind Philadelphia in the wild-card.

Playoff tickets go on sale on Monday.

In 2003, the Dodgers were in the hunt but they were only going to get into the playoffs by winning the NL West and they were playing catch up. It was pretty easy to get playoff tickets. The Dodgers put your money in the bank and collect interest. When the Dodgers failed to make the playoffs, I had to send back my tickets before they would issue a refund. I wonder how much in interest did they make on true believers like me who bought the tickets hoping they would pull it off.

In 2004, the Dodgers lead the NL West (clinching on the 2nd to last game of the season) and put playoff tickets on sale. Between stadium sales and internet sales, all tickets were gone within two hours.

I wonder what will happen tomorrow?

Dear Blog Readers, if your favorite team was in this spot, would you buy tickets?

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Religion: What is a PC-USA Church Member to Do?

Was listening to Dennis Prager on the radio this morning and he mentioned a report in the Wall Street Journal (I don't have a subscription) that the Presbyterian Church USA's publishing house has released a book with the title, Christian Faith and the Truth Behind 9/11. The book is currently the Featured Book on its home page.

The book summary on the web says the author argues that the US Government was complicit in 9/11 and that the USA is the new Roman Empire.


I wonder what PC-USA bloggers Hugh Hewitt and Mark D. Roberts will have to say.

I attend a PC-USA church which I am pleased to be a part of. My guess is that most of the congregation if told about such non-sense would be outraged.

What is the typical PC-USA church member to do?

If your church's denomination was involved in printing such rubbish, what would you do?

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Travel: Enjoying the Wonders of the Tuolumne Meadows Backcountry - Yosemite 2006, Part III

Fishing Tips

Am not a expert fisherman but I have a friend who loves trout fishing. Thus, before setting off to Yosemite, I got his advice for a simple approach to what could be done right out of the backpack.

I got a "pack rod."

I bought a 5'6" rod that broke down into four pieces from Specifically, I got this one.

I got a budget reel. If you poke around the site, you can spend 10x more money!

My fisherman friend recommended 2lb test line from Maxima. He said, trout can see heavier lines and get wary so going with 2lb will improve your chances.

Lastly, I picked up four lures at Sport's Chalet. I used a Rooster Tail but got it snagged after a few casts and lost it! I then tied on the Super Duper. While at Fletcher Lake, Leonard and I caught about four trout with this lure!

Here is one of the little guys we caught and released. We think it was a Brook Trout?

We went to Townsley Lake and continued to cast with the Super Duper and I landed this trout.

Is this a hybrid rainbow-golden trout?

On the light tackle, these trout put up a good fight!

The Super Duper got snagged and was lost.

The following day, we did some fishing at the Lyell Fork. I tied on the Kastmaster with treble hook. After several casts, I got a little too energetic and got it snagged on a tree and lost it!

We were down to our last lure, the Panther Martin spinner. The lure landed six trout and didn't get lost to snags!

I have no idea how to read a stream but I figured I looked for deep pools and cast downstream and retrieved the lure right over the fish. Got several hits this way. I also looked for some fast channels. With my sunglasses on, I noticed some trout darting up the channel I suppose looking for some food floating down. So once again, I cast downstream into the channel and it was amazing to see the trout follow the lure and strike it.

These trout ranged from 5 to 7 inches. The colors on them were vibrant! It was amazing to see the yellow spots and sometimes blue rings around red spots and some had deep orange colored bellies! All good fighters.

Saturday 19 August

We packed up our gear at Fletcher Lake and set out east.

We saw Evelyn Lake and filtered some water there.

Click here for the panorama photo of Evelyn Lake at 10,334 feet.

Besides big lakes and tall mountains, there are colorful flowers to enjoy.

We got to Lyell Canyon where we did some fishing to pass the afternoon which I described above.

For the evening, we enjoyed a campfire as we were below 9600 feet. Fires aren't permitted in higher elevations due to wood scarcity and potential resource damage.

Sunday 20 August

We packed up our stuff and before we took off, I took a few last photos of the waters.

Of course, I had to do a digital panoramic of the Lyell Fork of the Tuolumne River.

Part I
Part II
Part III
Pictures and Panoramics only - slow load multiple pictures
Panoramics only - slow load 7 large images

Friday, September 08, 2006

Travel: In and Around Vogelsang, the Land of Lovely Lakes, Yosemite 2006, Part II

Friday 18 August

Back in the city, I'm usually awake a bit before 7AM because the traffic noise outside my apartment wakes me up.

While in the wilderness, there is no traffic noise!!!

The previous day's hike up to Vogelsang took a lot out of me. However, at night, the wind kicked up so things were flapping around quite a bit and my heart rate and blood pressure was up due to the altitude which also kept me awake much of the night. All of this to say, I didn't get a great night's sleep. Yet, it seems my internal clock still functions!

I poked my head out of the tent and saw beautiful blue skies and the sun peaking over the horizon. I put on my various layers for the cool morning and grabbed my digital camera and made my way to the shore of Fletcher Lake.

After a breakfast of oatmeal bought at Trader Joes, I lay down on a rock and looked at the sky.

Can you see the moon in this picture below?

After the epic 7 mile hike the previous day, we decided it would be a light day today. I knew Vogelsang Lake and Vogelsang Pass would be worth our while after browsing this helpful web page.

Check out the panoramic of Vogelsang Lake by clicking here.

We continued on our way up to the Pass and passed by this marmot.

It sat on the rock so still, we wondered if it was dead! Eventually, it did move assuring us it was alive.

As we hiked up, I couldn't help but notice how many backpackers are senior citizens. I hope that when I reach my retirement years, I'll still be in a healthy enough state to be able to venture out into the mountains like all these folks who clearly love life and the great outdoors.

We got to Vogelsang Pass and this panorama opened up before us.

When experiencing such grandeur and beauty, one can't help but ponder "micro" details about one's life leading to a profound sense of thanksgiving. For instance, I knew that the opportunity to enjoy this amazing place was made possible by traveling with my buddy Leonard. Indeed, some people backpack alone but I would not feel comfortable doing so. Fortunate for me, I have at least one friend who enjoys the outdoors enough to go on this small adventure. Thanks Leonard for making the cross-country flight to make the backcountry hike!

I have to say, my mind also went to "macro" thoughts. If God is viewed as an artist, then God works on a large canvas and yet has the greatest attention to the smallest detail. I wondered: is the artist's satisfaction in the work complete? Or is there a part of the artist who derives some additional pleasure when someone sees the work?

On this day, how many people would pass through Vogelsang Pass and marvel at the view?

How many would think of God the artist as they did so?

We had a leisurely lunch of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and gorp snacks. Our version included Trader Joe Nuts, Trader Joe Dried Fruit and M and M candies.

We hiked back toward Vogelsang Lake and here I am with Vogelsang Lake in the background.

During our hike up to Vogelsang the day before, we had run into a day hiker who shared that he went fishing at Townsley Lake which is just above Fletcher Lake. He said it wasn't hard to get to. After lounging around at Fletcher Lake, we decided to go take a look at the lake he touted.

Here is one of the waterfalls from Townsley Lake that drain into Fletcher Lake.

We got over the rocks and the large beautiful lake was in view!

All of the lakes were amazing but this one's size, color and surroundings was probably my favorite. None of the lakes could be fully captured by my digital panoramic shots but it was the best I could do to try to capture the scene to share with everyone. Click here for a view of Townsley!

When I think back at all the beautiful lakes, creeks and meadows, I can't help but think of Psalm 1:3
He shall be like a tree
Planted by the rivers of water,
That brings forth its fruit in its season,
Whose leaf also shall not wither;
And whatever he does shall prosper.

Part I
Part II
Part III
Pictures and Panoramics only - slow load multiple pictures
Panoramics only - slow load 7 large images

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Travel: A Hobbit's Tale - Venturing from the Wilshire to Vogelsang in the High Country of the Fair Lands of Yosemite, Part I

Pictures are toward the bottom if you want to skip the administrative details!

The itinerary

Tuesday 15 August - went to LAX to pick up my buddy. We then drove up to Oakhurst and stayed at the Comfort Inn. Had dinner at Mountain House which is on the 41 near Bass Lake. For information about other services in Oakhurst area, go here.

Wednesday 16 August - got up early and drove to Tuolumne Meadows to see if we can get a campground. We wound up at Yosemite Creek. It is a 5 mile windy road down from the Tioga Road so be prepared! We got our permit and took a quick hike to Dog Lake.

Thursday 17 August - got up early and set off for Vogelsang going south on the Rafferty Creek Trail! We pitched tent near Fletcher Lake.

Friday 18 August- did some light hiking in and around Fletcher Lake. We went up to Vogelsang Lake and Vogelsang Pass. We also went to Townsley Lake.

Saturday 19 August - we set out east and visit Evelyn Lake and then down to Lyell Canyon.

Sunday 20 August - we get up and hike back to civilization going north along the Lyell Canyon trail. We drive down to Oakhurst and take a Jamba Juice break and lunch at Quiznos. We then drove down to Fresno and stayed at the Quality Inn Suites. We had dinner at Stuart Anderson Steak House near Fresno State University.

Monday 21 August - drove back to LA.

The milage

Hike to Dog Lake: starting at the parking lot west of the Wilderness Permit Office, it is about 3 miles round trip starting at 8580 feet and arriving at 9170 feet.

Hike to Fletcher Lake along Rafferty Creek: starting at the Wilderness Permit Office parking lot, it is about 7 miles starting at 8600 feet and arriving at 10,157 feet.

Hikes in the Vogelsang area: from the Vogelsang High Sierra Camp to the Vogelsang Pass, it is about 1.5 miles. The HSC is about 10,130 feet. The pass is about 10,680 feet. Townsley Lake (10,353 feet) is above Fletcher Lake (10,157 feet) and it is less than a mile away. There isn't an officially marked trail but enough people have gone up there that there are several apparent routes up the rocks to get to Townsley.

Hike to Lyell Canyon: From Fletcher Lake, it is about 6.3 miles. Along the way, we passed Evelyn Lake and gained a little bit of elevation. If I'm reading my topo map right, we probably went as high as 10,600 on the route. The junction of the Ireland Lake/Evelyn Lake trail is at 10,410. From that point, it is 2.8 miles down to Lyell Canyon at 8900 feet.

Hike to Toulumne Meadows along Lyell Canyon: about 6.1 miles which is mostly level.

The travelogue with pictures

Tuesday 15 August - Since my friend's flight arrived at LAX around noon, we figured we would pull into Oakhurst in the early evening.

Wednesday 16 August - We got up early and drove to Tuolumne Meadows which is about 2 hours from Oakhurst. The campgrounds at Tuolumne Meadows and Porcupine Flats were filled so we got a site at Yosemite Creek. It is a 5 mile windy road down from the Tioga Road. We set up our stuff and then head back out to Tuolumne Meadows to got our Backcountry Permit and bear canister.

We took a quick hike to Dog Lake.

The route passes alongside the Lembert Dome!

One can't see them in this photo but there are rock climbers on that thing!

We only saw two deer on our trip. This one here ...

The other jumped in front of our car! Fortunately, we hit the brakes fast enough to avoid a collision!

Here is Dog Lake ..

To see a panoramic of the lake click here.

We had burgers for dinner. This would be our final "regular" meal for several days!

Here is the heart of downtown Toulmne Meadows!

We went back to our car camp site at Yosemite Creek.

I made a boo-boo when I ate an apple and put the core in a ziplock bag. Instead of throwing it into the bear resistant trash bin immediately, I left it on the picnic table. I walked to the bathroom and as I was walking back, I saw a bear!!

The bear wandered over to our campsite and started pawing at the ziplock bag. It also slobbered all over my friends camera bag. After much shouting and clapping and banging of pots, the bear headed into the woods.

The bear came back about 30 minutes later. Since it was dark, all we could see was the two eyes glowing in the dark as people shined flashlights at him/her! The temperatures started to go down and we were tired so we went into our tents. Suffice to say the night was periodically interrupted by shouts of BEAR, BEAR, BEAR and the banging of pots and the triggering of car alarms to scare off the bear!

Thursday 17 August - We got up early and set off for Vogelsang going south on the Rafferty Creek Trail!

Four hours into the hike, I was beat. The elevation gain and the 35+ pound backpack was taking its toll. We estimated we still had two more hours to go! An extended rest and some water and snacks and seeing so many senior citizens on the trail got me going again.

Here we are at Tuolumne Pass near the 10,000 feet mark and five hours into our epic hike.

A final rocky stretch with switch backs and we were there!

The picture is of the canvas tent cabins of the Vogelsang High Sierra Camp with Fletcher Peak in the background.

We pitched our tent near Fletcher Lake.

To see a Fletcher Lake panorama, click here.

A few words about Altitude Sickness

10,000 feet is high enough that most people will have some mild symptoms. To get scared out of your mind, be sure to check out this web page from the International Society of Mountain Medicine.

The reality is that the amount of oxygen in the air is reduced at elevation and your body will take steps to compensate. The heart rate and blood pressure goes up to move more blood to get oxygen to your cells. In an effort to raise the red blood cell concentration, your body will urinate more thus dehydration will be a problem unless you drink consistently.

As I tried to go to sleep, it was a little disconcerting initially to hear my heart beat! In addition to hearing it, I noticed its rapidity! I also had a moderate headache. My final symptom was the high altitude cough which was probably a result of dry and dusty air. It is also possible that perhaps there was something that I was mildly allergic to floating around that further irritated my bronchi.

The reason I put into our itinerary the light hike to Dog Lake was to give us nearly one full day of getting used to the higher elevation. Indeed, there are people who drive straight up and start hiking to 10,000 feet immediately. However, I felt as someone who lives life in Los Angeles, elevation 330 feet, it would be a good idea to allow for some acclimatization!

Part I
Part II
Part III
Pictures and Panoramics only - slow load multiple pictures
Panoramics only - slow load 7 large images

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Travel: You really can go to nowhere

Got this on email today... its a blog about a cross-country road trip.

I love road trips. See hereand here.

Anyway, I just had to laugh when I saw the photo at the bottom of this entry!

Devotional Thoughts: The locusts are coming

Am looking at Joel 2:1-11.

Remember the context of the passage, in chapter one, Joel described the locust swarms. This reality hung over their heads. In chapter two, he described the dread they felt knowing what was coming. Also, remember that he was writing in poetic style so imagine the pictures he has created with his words and listen for the sound of it.

Blow the trumpet in Zion,
And sound an alarm in My holy mountain!
Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble;
For the day of the LORD is coming,
For it is at hand:
A day of darkness and gloominess,
A day of clouds and thick darkness,
Like the morning clouds spread over the mountains.

If you have ever been hiking you know that you don't want to get caught outside in a thunderstorm where you can get drenched or worse hit by lightening. As you are hiking along and you see the clouds gathering quickly ... its nervous time.

In addition to visualizing the motion picture, listen for the sound of what he described ... a marching army, a crackling fire and trampling horses ...

A people come, great and strong,
The like of whom has never been;
Nor will there ever be any such after them,
Even for many successive generations.
A fire devours before them,
And behind them a flame burns;
The land is like the Garden of Eden before them,
And behind them a desolate wilderness;
Surely nothing shall escape them.
Their appearance is like the appearance of horses;
And like swift steeds, so they run.
With a noise like chariots
Over mountaintops they leap,
Like the noise of a flaming fire that devours the stubble,
Like a strong people set in battle array.
Before them the people writhe in pain;
All faces are drained of color.
They run like mighty men,
They climb the wall like men of war;
Every one marches in formation,
And they do not break ranks.
They do not push one another;
Every one marches in his own column.
Though they lunge between the weapons,
They are not cut down.
They run to and fro in the city,
They run on the wall;
They climb into the houses,
They enter at the windows like a thief.
The earth quakes before them,
The heavens tremble;
The sun and moon grow dark,
And the stars diminish their brightness.


As urban dweller in 21st Century America, this is completely outside my personal experience. The only time I see bugs is driving in the country side as they splatter onto my window or when I go hiking and the mosquitos envelope us when we stop moving.

That is nothing compared to what is described here: a swarm so massive that the sun and moon is obscured.

The LORD gives voice before His army,
For His camp is very great;
For strong is the One who executes His word.
For the day of the LORD is great and very terrible;
Who can endure it?

Joel identified that the LORD (YHWH) was behind the locust swarm.

This is the theological question of the ages: when something bad happens, is God behind it? Is the judgment of God part of the equation?

In the pre-scientific age, if someone were to claim, calamity X is due to God, it was probably believed.

Today, such a claim would be viewed less favorably.

If there is no god then any claim to god being behind locust swarms, earthquakes, tsunamis or hurricanes would be foolish.

But what if there is a god?

If god is the "deist" clockmaker god who builds the universe and lets it tick away on its own then the existence of disasters would testify to a lousy clockmaker.

If god is in the "theist" mode who builds the universe and periodically intervenes in human affairs then one might argue:
(1) god is not good because god doesn't intervene
(2) god is not powerful enough to intervene - though it would seem strange that god would be powerful enough to create the universe and not be able to intervene.

The existence of evil and suffering is the greatest challenge to the belief in the existence of god. However, some turn that argument on its head and say the very existence of notions of evil and suffering testify to god.

For a detailed discussion check out this item on theodicy. There is a LOT to chew on there and I'm going to have to re-read that item a few times and I'll still not be sure if I know what to believe with precision!

As I sit here at the comfort of my laptop, when disater strikes, I am not going to make any claims of it is or is not God's judgement. Call it a cop out call it what you want, I'm not making that claim. Joel can make that claim because he was a prophet but I'm not.

However, as a Christian, I do believe a day (I don't know when and it may well be after we are all dead) will come when God will judge and on that day, there will be no doubt because it won't be me or some other human agency making the claim it is God's judgement.

On that day, indeed, who can endure it?

We can only endure it if we take a hold of Christ whose sacrifice pays for our sin and whose life covers us in righteousness.

Lord, we live in a world that is in bad shape. Yet, you did not remain idle content to see it fall apart. Instead, you sent Jesus to restore us and the world. While we await your establishing the kingdom in fullness, help me to work where I can to extend your kingdom. Your call is for love and truth. Help me to live that in my life. Help me to be that for others. Help me to fight for justice with humility trusting in your ultimate justice and goodness. Amen.