Monday, January 30, 2012

New Patches on Old Garments

I was reading through Matthew the other day and an old familiar passage jumped out and assaulted me.  Jesus is challenged by the Pharisees about his disciples failure to fast at the prescribed times and responds with:
“No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse. Neither do men pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.” - Matthew 9:16-17 NIV
The Pharisees might have been OK with Jesus if he had been content to just tweak a bit here and there, patching up a few places in the garment of Judaism as practiced by the Pharisees.  But Jesus told them, and his disciples, that anything short of a new set of clothes would be a waste of time.  Any patching of the old man would result in a state worse that it was before.

So what does that have to say to me today?  He tells me that the person I was when I came to Christ is not compatible with living in the Spirit with him.  Just tweaking my life a bit here and there, putting a little paint on the worst spots and sprucing up the outside a little won't cut it.  If who I am on the inside remains unchanged, then all of the patching up I do is doomed to failure.  Constantly patching up my life is bound to leave me frustrated and defeated.  So long as the original me is at the heart of things the struggles will be never ending.  Just washing off a pig won't keep him from rolling around in the mud.  You've got to change him to something else if you want to keep him clean.

In Romans 12:2 Paul encourages us to not conform to the world but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds.  I believe this is also what Jesus is saying to the Pharisees here.  Rather than patching up the old me, I need to become something else.  To die to self and be born anew in the Spirit.  If I will put on the new life of the Spirit then there is no patching required and I can experience the life he created me to have.

Now you may have noticed that there are those in our world today who seem to enjoy wearing clothes that are in need of some serious patching.  In fashion I guess that is OK.  But when we as Christians walk around in the rags of sin and boast about that, something is wrong.  We are not called to be like the world, but to be transformed and to be a witness to it.

Father, my prayer is that you would lead me to be a living sacrifice, to not conform to the ways of this world, but to be transformed with a renewed mind.  Help me to set aside the old garments of sin and self and to be clothed instead with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, forbearance, forgiveness and love.  Be my Lord and my God!

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Pacific Crest Trail

The Pacific Crest Trail, or PCT, is one of the crown jewels of the long distance hiking world; one of the longest and most challenging treks in the US, if not the world.  The PCT was first conceived in 1932, designated as a National Scenic Trail in 1968, and finally finished in 1993.

The PCT is 2663 miles long and runs along the mountainous backbone of California, Oregon and Washington.  Its southern terminus is at the Mexican border and in the north extends up to Manning Park, 7 miles into British Columbia.  Most of this trail is through National Forests or Parks as well as other protected areas, although some portion of the trail is constructed through easements on private property.  The route generally follows the ridge line of the Sierras and Cascades, avoiding populated areas and roads as much as possible.  The high point of the trail is over 13,000 feet in the Sierras and the low point is at the crossing of the Columbia River, near sea level.  The trail is restricted to hikers and equestrians with no wheeled vehicles, including bikes, allowed.

The PCT, like the Appalachian Trail (AT) and the Continental Divide Trail (CDT) are popular trails for day hikers, section hikers (those doing some portion of the trail) as well as thru-hikers (those attempting the whole trail in a single season).  Approximately 300 hikers a year tackle the trail as thru-hikers with about 60% of them actually completing the whole 2663 miles in a single hiking season.  Most of these thru-hikers leave from the Mexican border in mid April and arrive in Manning Park about 5 months later in mid September.  This requires that the thru-hiker average nearly 20 miles a day, although the daily mileage is usually greater to allow for rest and resupply days in towns that are near the trail.  Thru-hikers come in just about every color, size, shape, nationality, age and gender.  Most are young white lanky males, but there are plenty of women, aged folks and those whose shape is anything but lanky.  Last year a 13 year old girl completed the whole trip, and 70 year olds have also been known to complete the trail. The only thing this diverse group has in common is the willingness to walk from dawn to dusk nearly every day for 5 months through desserts and mountains, across snow and raging streams, in the rain, snow, cold and heat, sleeping on the ground and eating 4000 calories a day of dried foods that they have been carrying for up to a week.  That and the drive to reach Canada before the snow sets in.

I don't remember when I first heard about the PCT, but for at least the past 30 years it has been a dream of mine to hike it someday.  I have never seriously considered trying to do the whole thing in one year, but rather a section of the trail each year until I have finished the whole thing.  The fulfillment of that dream started in 2010 when a friend and I hiked the northern 70 miles of the trail, and it was beautiful.  Last year I had planned on doing the nearly 200 miles to the south of there, but the high snow levels pushed me down into Oregon and I did the northern 160 miles of that state in 8 days.  This year the goal is to bite off about 300 miles of the trail in a bit more leisurely fashion, taking about 3 weeks with more frequent town stops.  I have not yet decided which section of the trail to do this year, waiting to see how much snow we get this winter as well as dealing with some logistical issues.  Stay tuned for more information as the summer draws nearer.

And yes, I am a little bit crazy :)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

In God We Trust!

In God we trust.  It is the American motto and is inscribed on every bill and every coin in my pocket.  So it must be true ... right?  I am not absolutely sure who the we is in this expression, but I assume it to mean the American public; you, me and the other 300 million plus people who live in this country.  And surely all of us in this Christian nation trust in God ... don't we?

Trust, according to the dictionary, means 'reliance on the integrity, strength, ability, surety, etc., of a person or thing; confidence.'  I would think that reliance is the operative word here.  If I trust in something, then I am relying on that something to come through for me in some way.  I trust in Facebook and email for communication with people outside my home; in other words I rely on them to keep me in touch with friends and extended family.  I trust in my truck to get me to the hardware store and back; I rely on it for transportation.  I trust in my wife for many things, relying on her to make me more than I would otherwise be.  I trust my government to send me a retirement check each month and to provide me with a certain level of physical security; if I could not rely on them for those things then I would have to work until I died, fortify my home and arm my person.  And I trusted my surgeon to remove the cancer from my body; relying on him to do the job that he had been trained to perform.

But do I trust in God?  I believe I do.  I trust him for my eternity: "I know whom I have believed and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day.1"  I trust him to provide me with a knowledge of his will for my life, both morally and with life direction.  And I trust him to use whatever happens to me to shape me for his purpose.  So yes, I believe I trust in God, at least for those things where that reliance is appropriate.

But what about our nation?  Is it true that the American public actually trusts in God?  According to recent surveys only about 3/4 of the population of our country makes any claims to being Christian.  That means that 1/4 of our population either trusts in a different god or in no god at all.  According to the American Religious Identification Survey 2001 (ARIS), 25% of people in Washington state, where I live, say they have no religion at all, or call themselves atheist, agnostic or secular. Only 42% say someone in their household is affiliated with a church, synagogue or mosque.  Now Washington is considered the least religious state in the country, but the rest of the country seems to be in a hurry to catch up with us.  It does make me wonder about the suitability of the motto "In God We Trust".

I wonder; before 1956 when "In God We Trust" became the national motto, did we not trust in God?  Or have we trusted him more since then?  Would we trust him less if it was no longer our national motto?  Personally I am pretty ambivalent about this phrase as a national motto and would not be heart broken if it was replaced by something more accurate.  How about "Liberty and Justice For All"?  Or maybe one that more accurately describes the American public: "What's in it for me?"

1 2 Timothy 1:12 NIV

Friday, January 20, 2012

Snowmageddon 2012

The forecasts were predicting the worst snowstorm in the Puget Sound area since 1985; snowmageddon.  To read the newspapers and listen to the TV weather reports you would think that this would be a storm of epic proportions, a storm that would wreak havoc across the region.  A storm to tell the grand-kids about; assuming I ever have any.  And even during the 2 day storm the headlines talked about a state of emergency for Washington, 200,000 people without power in Seattle, airports and trains closed or not running, the roadways a mess.

But now that it's over I find myself disappointed; 4 inches of snow followed by maybe 1/2 inch of frozen rain.  It was actually quite a let down.  I was anticipating having to shovel myself out of the house.  I was prepared to rake the snow off the deck cover again.  I thought maybe I would have to fire up the generator to keep the house warm.  I had expected to be able to put the snowshoes on and trek around the neighborhood.  But only 4 inches; sigh.

I heard reports of others getting 7 inches, 13 inches, 19 inches or even more.  But not me.  I didn't even get enough to bother to shovel.  Living along Puget Sound with the Olympic Mountains to the west makes for some very unpredictable and random precipitation patterns.  Two miles away from me the snowfall was nearly twice what mine was.  And next time it might be reversed.  But somehow I feel like I was cheated.  I wanted to see 2-3 feet of snow outside today.  For this to have been the worst storm since 1985 it would have required more than  2 feet.  But no; just 4 inches.

View from the front porch.
Looking out into the back yard from the deck.

But even so, it was beautiful outside.  I love the look of new fallen snow on the yard and in the trees.  We get it so seldom here that I never grow weary of seeing it, at least until it starts to rain on it.  I enjoyed getting out and walking up to the neighborhood grocery store.  I enjoyed the guilt free opportunity to snuggle up in the lazy-boy and read a book.  So I will just be content with the measly 4 inches and go back to praying for more snow in the next month or so.  Although somehow I suspect that my prayers will be drowned out by those who have had more than enough snow and ice the past couple of days.

And now come the heavy rains and floods!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Sealed by the Spirit

I am sure that you have seen a TV show or movie where a person writes a letter, folds it up, drips melted wax on the page overlap and then presses a stamp or signet ring into the wax leaving an impression on the cooled wax.  This was a form of security used on important documents through most of history.  This seal provided two distinct but related services.  

The first thing the seal does is provide authenticity for the letters sender.  Each important person or official would have their own engraved picture or emblem on the stamp or ring.  So to get a letter with that impression in the sealing wax would provide proof that the letter was indeed from the person claiming to send it and not a forgery.  Of course that does assume that the person receiving the letter recognized the senders seal, otherwise it meant nothing.

The second service provided by the seal was a guarantee that the letter had not been tampered with.  If someone opened and read the letter while in transit the seal would be broken and the recipient would then know that someone else had read the letter and knew of its contents, as well as potentially tampering with the message of the letter.

Paul uses this image of the seal in Ephesians to describe a part of what the Holy Spirit does in the life of a believer
When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory. - Ephesians 1:13b-14 NIV
In this passage the Holy Spirit is the seal of God stamped onto all those who have believed.  The Holy Spirit within is proof to me that I belong to God.  And his presence should be a demonstration to other believers as well that I am God's.  But for those who are not themselves sealed by the Holy Spirit, the seal on our lives, like the unknown wax seal, has no value; to them there is no possible proof of God's ownership.

In the Ephesian passage the seal is not so much a guarantee that the contents have not been tampered with as it is a promise guaranteeing the inheritance of those who are sealed.  If I know the Holy Spirit's presence in my life, I can rest assured that my future with God is secure.  The Holy Spirit's presence is the first deposit on that life, with the remainder coming at my redemption.

This sealing by the Holy Spirit is one of the spiritual blessings that Paul has been sharing, and one that I am very grateful for.  With the Holy Spirit sealing my life, I do not have to live in doubt concerning my eternity.  Instead, I can rest assured that God will provide, and I praise him for that.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Living With Thorns

My Bible readings for this past week included the parable of the 'Soils', more commonly known as the 'Sower and the Seed'.  The parable describes seed, the word of God, that is sown into four different kinds of soil, and the response of each soil to that seed.  The first soil is unresponsive to the word, it never takes root. The seed in the second soil sprouts and begins to grow but is killed by persecution and difficulties in life. The seed sown in third soil also sprouts and grows some but is choked out by the the worries and pleasures of life.  The seed in the fourth soil not only sprouts and grows but is productive and fruitful.

I cannot read this parable without thinking about the soil of my own life.  The word of God has been sown and, unlike the first soil, has sprouted and grown some; but how much?  As much as I would like to be the productive soil that bears much fruit, too often I fear that the thorns are too thick and entangling.
Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. - Mark 4:18-19
I am very familiar with thorns, growing up and living in a place where the Himalayan Blackberries grow in profusion and are all but impossible to eradicate.  Only by continuous and persistent effort can these thorns be held in check.  Left alone long enough they will engulf the land and choke out pretty much everything else. 

I find these blackberries illustrate the thorny soil very well.  I am too often distracted from the good I want to do by the worries of life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desire for other things.  Concerns about family, the need to tend to my house and yard, the adventures found in a good novel, exploration of the creation (AKA hiking), physical fitness and health, continuing to learn and grow as a person.  The thorns in my life come in many different forms, but they all share in common the ability to choke out my spiritual development.

Some people may find that their thorns are bad things and directly harmful to them.  But it seems to me that most of my thorns are much better disguised.  It is hard to look at one of them as say 'this is a bad thing' and I should not do it. And yet, if they choke out the word of God, and prevent it from being fruitful in the soil of my life, is it not a thorn.
"Father, I pray that you would take your hoe to the soil of my life and uproot those thorns that try so hard to choke out the fruit that you desire to see grow in me.  May the soil of my life be fruitful and may its fruit bring honor to you."

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Reading with a Kindle

I love to read, too much sometimes.  I can get so involved in a good book that the world around me almost ceases to exist.  Every since the fourth grade I have enjoyed burying myself in the world of books.  I also tend to be somewhat of a collector.  And as a consequence I have many bookshelves overflowing with books that I have read one or more times, along with some that I hope someday to read.  It's getting to the point that I have no place to put any more books.

Sometime in the past couple of years I decided to give the Kindle a try.  I was a bit apprehensive about it because I don't really like reading all that much on a computer screen, but all I had read indicated that the Kindle would be different, that it would be almost like reading a real book.  So I took the plunge and now, some 50 books later, I am sold on it.

The Kindle is very easy on the eyes, allowing me to read for hours without eye strain.  It is also, with the optional cover, about the size of a thin paperback book, making it very easy to hold or drop onto my lap.  And, unlike a book, I have yet to have it fall out of my hand and close up on me when I nod off.  My Kindle is very easy to use so long as it is just to sit down and read a book from cover to cover.  I would be hard pressed to improve on it much for that purpose.  I really do love using my Kindle for just reading.

Battery life is good on the Kindle, only having to recharge every couple of weeks during periods of heavy reading.  Of course that is with the wireless networking turned off except to download new books.  The Kindle software is available for, and installed on, my phone and is also available for my laptop, although I haven't used it there.  If I was willing to leave the wireless on the Kindle it would periodically sync up to the big Amazon 'Cloud ' to keep track of where I was in the book.  That would allow me to shift between multiple devices and have them all open to the same place in the book.

Storage for my library is also substantially reduced now.  I have read at least one shelf full of books in the past couple of years, and they all fit comfortably on my Kindle.  The whole library is with me wherever I go. And they are all also available wherever I have the Kindle software installed.  The only real downside is the difficulty in sharing a book with a friend; that is something that is still being worked out.

The only real issue I have with the Kindle is that it is difficult to flip back and forth between multiple places like you can with a real book.  I'm sure it would be easier if I worked at it hard enough, but I gave up on that pretty quickly.  If I am going to be reading something that requires anything other than cover to cover sequential reading, I will pull out a real book.

The Bible is the one that I do this with most.  I will hardly ever start at Genesis 1:1 and read straight through to the end of Revelation.  Instead I bounce around a lot and compare multiple passages together.  And that is just not convenient with a Kindle.  So, although I have a Bible on my Kindle, I seldom use it there.

There is a new version of the Kindle out now; the Kindle Fire.  The Fire has a touch screen interface which may improve navigation, as well as the ability to connect to Facebook, the web, email, and stream music and video; in addition to reading books.  I resisted as long as I could (almost 2 months), but finally have bought a Fire and opened the box yesterday.  I will be running it through its paces and will let you know later what I think of it.  But the initial impression is favorable.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Who Do You Hang Out With?

As a good Christian, how should I treat my homosexual neighbors, the people living in the dump down the street, the neighbors who party all night, the drunken bums lining the street downtown, the young lady entering the abortion clinic or the heavily pierced and tattooed kids at the skate board park.  Is it OK to avoid them, or to condemn them for their obvious and blatant sin?  Should I be a good citizen and work to make their actions or activities illegal?  Is it OK to protest against these behaviors, along with many more that I find offensive?

I suspect I am not alone in being uncomfortable around people whose lifestyle and values vary dramatically from my own.  And it is tempting to gild that uncomfortableness with self-righteousness.  I mean, after all, I am trying to follow the rules laid out in the Bible and they obviously are not (otherwise they would be like me), therefore they are wrong and should be called to task for that.  Is it not my duty as the 'light of the world' to point out the sins I find around me and work to prevent people from being able to do those things?

I read a book as a youth that was later rewritten into a more modern setting and became somewhat of a fad for a while.  The WWJD acronym came from that story and it challenges me to compare my actions against those of Jesus, were he in my place today.  I believe that is something worth considering as I encounter people in my everyday life who are not as godly, holy and righteous as I am.  I wonder, if Jesus showed up in my town today, would he spend his time with me, and others like me?  Or would he hang out around the skate board park, the downtown streets and the abortion clinics?

The gospel of Matthew gives us a glimpse into what Jesus choice might be.
As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.  While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples.  When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”  On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.  But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” - Matthew 9:9-13 NIV
Besides Jesus there are three groups of people mentioned here.  The first was Matthew and his friends, other tax collectors and sinners.  This was a class of people that were looked down on by the good Christian people of Jesus day (although they were actually Jewish).  They lived in ways that violated the commands of the Old Testament or other traditions that had developed around it.  They were low life's, the scum of society, unacceptable to good moral folks.

A second group hanging around Matthews house in this story were the Pharisees.  The Pharisees were good  solid Baptist folk who sought to keep every command in the Bible as well as all the others that had been added to ensure that they were in good standing with God.  The Pharisees would have nothing to do with Matthew and his friends because even touching one of them would leave a stain on their holiness.  The only help the Pharisees would provide to Matthew and his friends was to give them more rules to try and live by, an attempt to legislate moral behavior, at least what they considered moral behavior.  The Pharisees challenged the appropriateness of Jesus and his disciples eating with Matthew and his friends.  How could a holy man of God do such a thing, hanging around with sinful people?

The third group in this story were Jesus disciples.  The story doesn't say how they felt about all this, although I can imagine they were a bit uncomfortable about it; both because of who they were eating with, and the response they got from the religious folks.  But what is most important here is that they went where Jesus went, regardless of their comfort level.  They were hanging out with sinners along with Jesus.  That Jesus and his disciples were not called sinners themselves by the Pharisees indicates that they had not adopted the actions of the 'sinners' they were hanging out with.  Their only guilt here, at least in the mind of the religious folks, was that they were willing to associate with Matthew and his friends.

And what about Jesus?  He made it clear to the Pharisees that he had come to reach sinners, to show mercy to them.  Not after they had repented of their ways, but in the midst of where they were at the time.  He went to them and shared God's love with them rather than sit in a church building and demand that people become good folks before he would touch them.

It seems clear from the story told here who Jesus would hang out with today. If he came to visit my town I think it much more likely that I would find him downtown, in the bars or jails, or in the abortion clinics rather than hanging out in our churches, waiting for people to come to him.  Jesus disciples are those who go where he goes and hang out with those he hangs out with.  Am I his disciple?  Will I condemn my homosexual neighbors for their behavior, or will I embrace them with God's love?  Will I allow their life style to prevent me from sharing God's love with them?  How about you?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Ephesians Overview

The home Bible study group I am a part of will be studying the book of Ephesians over the next few months.  This is one of my favorite books in the Bible so I am really looking forward to the study.  I expect to be blogging some of my notes as the study goes on and am interested in any feedback.  Most of these blogs will be a work in progress and are primarily for the benefit of the other group members.

The apostle Paul is traditionally considered to be the author of Ephesians, although that is in dispute among modern scholars.  The dispute seems mostly to center around the use of some specific words not used in other Pauline writings as well as a more fully developed idea of Christ and his church.  As a result many see that this was a later writing produced by a disciple of Paul and attributed to him.  I have read many of the arguments for and against the traditional view of Paul's authoring the letter but have yet to see a compelling reason to doubt his authorship.

The traditional view holds that this letter was written to the church at Ephesus, a city that Paul ministered in for around 3 years.  There is some dispute about that though because Paul does not include any personal references to people he knew there, he seems to relay on second hand testimony concerning their faith, and because some of the earlier manuscripts do not include the words 'in Ephesus' in the address.  I think it is possible that this letter was more of an open letter to all the saints rather than addressed to a specific church.  But ultimately it really doesn't matter to me.  I read it as a letter addressed to me and to the church I am a part of.

More than any other book in the Bible, Ephesians helps me to understand the big picture concerning God's purpose for and working in his creation, what's it's all about.  In some ways it is like being given a peak behind the curtains.  Paul's prayers for the saints are significant both in helping me to prayer for others as well as in helping me to understand what God wants to do in my life.  And his description of the armor we are to don gives me hope for engaging in the spiritual conflict that wages around us.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


I have been using Facebook for nearly 3 years now.  I was initially apprehensive about joining Facebook because it is a 'Social Network' type of an application and I am not very social.  And also because of all of the privacy concerns I had heard so much about.  And while there have been some things about it that I have not liked, by and large I am glad that I made the decision to give it a try.

The biggest plus for me is that it allows me to stay somewhat connected with friends who no longer live nearby.  I am not a letter writer, or phone talker, and so prior to Facebook these friends pretty much fell out of my life.  For the most part I had no idea where they were or what was happening in their lives.  But Facebook has changed that, at least for those friends that I have found on Facebook and who are somewhat active on-line.  We may not often talk with each other, but I still can see what they are up to and that is pretty cool, allowing a certain amount of connectedness to continue!

Facebook also allows me to stay somewhat connected to people who are local.  Remember what I said about being social; I am not.  Chit chat is not an art form I ever mastered.  Just because I see someone occasionally does not mean that I know much about what is going on in their life.  But I can eves drop in on their Facebook posts and discover a lot of information that I would otherwise have been oblivious to.  Now I must admit that much of that 'information' is of little value or interest to me, but there are enough little nuggets thrown in to continue to make it interesting and valuable.

There is a third group of people that I have enjoyed on Facebook, people that I have seldom, if ever, talked with in person, but have gotten to know at least a little bit through this media.  These may be family members of friends, friends of friends or just a familiar name that Facebook recommends to me.  While not many, there are a few of these that I have developed some form of relationship with where there would not have been otherwise.

All in all Facebook says that I currently have 242 friends; and that is way more than I would currently have contact with otherwise.  So Facebook really does serve to open up my limited social circle.  Never the less, there are some things that I don't like about it.

The biggest issue I have is that it can be difficult filtering through the clutter to find the kinds of posts that I am looking for.  I do not play games on Facebook and don't really care about what your high score is or what animals you need for Farmville.  It has taken a while but I believe I finally have much of the game stuff eliminated from my News Feed.

I have yet to figure out how to eliminate all of the 'I know most of you won't re-post this' or 'Make this your status for one hour' status updates.  I won't re-post or make your cause my status for an hour.  Nor do I generally even want to read them since they tell me nothing about what is happening in your life.

And I generally don't care that Tom is now friends with Larry or that Sally is going to bed for the night.  Some of that I can tell Facebook not to show me and the rest of it I just have to ignore.  But I am getting pretty good at speed browsing, scrolling through the unwanted clutter to see the types of posts that are of interest to me.

I do find it humorous how many good looking young ladies want to be my friend.  That is really quite flattering to an oldish and socially awkward guy like me.  But so far I have resisted the temptation to respond to them.  I just have this sneaky suspicion that I would live to regret responding positively to their friend requests :)

I am generally indifferent to the periodic changes that are made to the Facebook interface.  I see some as real improvements and others as mostly change for change sake and of little value.  But I can generally easily figure out how to continue doing with Facebook what I want it to do.  And so, in spite of the periodic uproar over changes, I don't see what the big deal is.

All in all I like Facebook and the service it provides to me.