Tuesday, March 11, 2014
How is your imagination? Do you ever daydream? What do you imagine?
Former Beatle John Lennon wrote a song titled Imagine in the early 70's. The melody is beautiful, and it is one of the most popular songs he ever wrote. But while the melody may be beautiful, the lyrics paint a different picture. Listen to what Lennon had to say.
Imagine there's no heaven. It's easy if you try;
No hell below us; above us only sky.
Imagine all the people, living for today.
Imagine there's no country. It isn't hard to do;
Nothing to kill or die for, and no religion, too.
Imagine all the people living life in peace.
One of Lennon's ideas was that the concept of God, Jesus, and religion got in the way of world peace; and in the final analysis, caused more bad than good. Karl Marx thought this very same way, and so have many other so-called brilliant philosophers over the centuries. Their idea was that if you rid the world of its ideas about God, Jesus, and religion, then the world would become a utopia. People working together in peace and perfect harmony would soon solve the world's problems.
When I put my imagination to work, I see something different. When I imagine no heaven it is a scary scene. As bad as things are in this world, imagine what it would be like if there was no God. If you spend much time imagining these kinds of things, it's frightening. I can't imagine peace without God. Imagining the world without God is depressing. Let's imagine something different.
I like to imagine the future. Growing up I liked reading popular science magazines. I also liked reading books by Isaac Asimov. His vision of what the future would be like intrigued me. One of my favorite things to imagine is what heaven will be like. Put your imagination to work. What do you imagine heaven is like?
Does the Bible have anything to say about our imagination? The Bible tells us in Ephesians 3:20 , "Glory belongs to God, whose power is at work in us. By this power he can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine". I can imagine a lot of great things, but God can do infinitely more. Put your imagination to work. Whatever you imagined, God can do infinitely more.
I like to think about God. I study the Bible to learn more about him. Can I really understand him? In Isaiah 55:8,9 it reads "My thoughts are completely different from yours, says the LORD. And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts".
God's ways are far beyond anything we can imagine. It seems my imagination is useless when it comes to God. One of my favorite texts is 1 Corinthians 2:9 where is says "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him".
Do you love God? God has prepared something so incredible that no human has ever even imagined it. There are people on this planet that have great imaginations. Look at some of the wonders of this world. The imaginations of artists, writers, architects are often spectacular, but they cannot imagine anything like heaven. Have you ever imagined what heaven will be like? Whatever you imagined doesn't even come close to what God has actually prepared for you.
Do you want to go to heaven? Why do you want to go there? I will tell you why I want to go. In John 14:1-3 Jesus tells us "Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in me. In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to myself; that where I am, there you may be also".
Jesus had prepared a place for me, and he wants me to be there with him. That is why I want to go to heaven. I want to be where Jesus is. Jesus has also prepared a place for you. Do you want to be there with him? What will it be like when we see the place that Jesus has prepared for us? I can only imagine!
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Sunday, March 9, 2014
March 9th is Baron Bliss Day in the Central American country of Belize. We have visited Belize several times. On one of our visits to Belize, we were in Caye Caulker and there were many Belizeans swimming and enjoying themselves at the area they call The Split. I asked someone about it and they told me it was Baron Bliss Day and it was a holiday for many people.
I later found out that every year, on the 9th March, wreaths are placed on the tomb of Baron Bliss in his memory . The day is celebrated as a public and bank holiday, and a harbor regatta is held in remembrance of a man who loved Belize.
The fourth Baron Bliss of the Kingdom of Portugal, Henry Edward Ernest Victor Bliss, was an Englishman by birth. In 1926, he sailed in his yacht Sea King to Belize and fell in love with the green Caribbean Sea, the cayes and balmy climate.
When he was younger he had contracted polio and decided to travel the world in a luxury yacht. After spells in the Bahamas, Trinidad and Jamaica, he arrived in Belize harbor, where he found a climate which suited him. He was extremely fond of the local people. When he arrived in British Honduras, as Belize was called then, his health was poor. He spent some months off the coast of Belize aboard the Sea King, attempting to recover from this illness. Fishermen and colonial administrators treated him kindly and taught him about Belize. The Baron died of food poisoning, but not before he changed his will. He loved British Honduras and wrote a will that revoked any former will in order to leave the bulk of his fortune for the benefit of the people of British Honduras. The will set up a trust fund that is used for the benefit of Belizeans and has made possible the building of the Bliss Institute Library and Museum in Belize City, health clinics and markets around the country, and has helped with the Belize City water supply system. The Baron is considered Belize's greatest benefactor.
Over the decades, the Baron Bliss Fund has used money from the savings accumulated on many projects for the benefit of Belize. The projects completed have benefited all parts of Belize. Some projects completed in the past century with the help of the Fund were The Baron Bliss Institute and Promenade, The Bliss School of Nursing, Belize City Water Supply System, Intransit Lounge at Belize International Airport, the Corozal Town Hall and the purchase of land for the building of the capital city of Belmopan.
The many projects realized by the Baron Bliss Trust have benefited thousands of citizens and were all completed in conformity with the desires of the will of Baron Bliss. It is safe to say that there will be many more ways and projects through which the practical kindness and affection of Baron Bliss will continue to aid Belize, for years and years to come.
Monday, March 3, 2014
The American Cancer Society Relay For Life is a life-changing event that gives everyone a chance to celebrate the lives of people who have battled cancer, remember loved ones lost, and fight back against the disease. It is the top non-profit fundraising event in the world with over 5,200 events in the U.S. and with events in countries around the world.
I have been involved in Relay For Life since 2007. The number one reason I became involved is because my wife is passionate about Relay. She has such a passion for Relay For Life that it rubs off on those around her. Her passion stems from her family history. Her mother died of cancer when Gina was just 21 years old. Her father had colon cancer, and all three of her sisters have had breast cancer. She is the only person in her immediate family that is cancer free. To read her story click here.
Several years ago, Gina's sister Roberta got involved with Relay For Life in Enumclaw, Washington. For a number of years, Gina would travel to Enumclaw to be a part of Relay For Life there. Seven years ago, we learned that Polk County was going to have a Relay. We got involved in the 2007 Relay, and have been involved ever since.
Last year my Mom was diagnosed with cancer. All of a sudden, the work that I have done with Relay For Life and the American Cancer Society came sharply into focus. It became even more personal.
Because of recent breakthroughs in the treatment of kidney tumors I had hope. The procedure that the doctors used on her tumor is called cryoablation.
Cryoablation uses hollow needles through which cooled, thermally conductive, fluids are circulated. Cryoprobes are inserted into the tumor. When the probes are in place, the cryogenic freezing unit removes heat ("cools") from the tip of the probe and by extension from the surrounding tissues. The most common application of cryoablation is to ablate solid tumors found in the lung, liver, breast, kidney and prostate.
The concept of cryoablation is relatively new in cancer surgery for any disease. Traditionally, surgeons have treated cancer by literally cutting it out. In contrast to this approach, cryoablation is a different concept in that cold energy is used to destroy the cancerous tissue at the exact site where it exists in the body. Cryoablation is particularly well suited to kidney cancer.
Cryoablation is a very promising new approach to kidney cancer. This kind of new treatment is why I am a strong supporter of cancer research. I have spent the last seven years doing all that I can to raise money for cancer research through the American Cancer Society's Relay For Life. As I was researching this procedure I came across the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center Library website. I found these words about Renal Cryoablation that were written in 2008. "Early results have demonstrated that it may offer an alternative for the treatment of renal masses with the advantages of minimal complications, spared renal function, decreased overall costs and equivalent oncologic efficacy. Long-term results are required in order to apply this minimally invasive technique to a broader spectrum of patients". Just six years ago the procedure that was used on my Mom was a brand new technology. It has only been available in Arkansas for three years.
Several large medical centers have produced data demonstrating that kidney cancer is cured in approximately 97 percent of patients who undergo cryoablation with a follow-up of three years. Because it is such a new procedure , 10 year follow-up information on patients having undergone cryoablation is not yet available. Some of the data is showing 98 to 100 percent cure rates.
My Mom's doctors are confident of the success of the procedure. That gives me hope. I know that at Relay For Life events we often hear that we are raising money to find a cure. Cancer is not just one disease, it is many many diseases. Sometimes when we see how many people are affected by cancer and how much misery suffering and sadness it causes it seems hopeless. In my work for the American Cancer Society people often tell me that there will never be a cure because cancer is a big business and the doctors and pharmaceutical companies would suppress a cure if it was found. What a sad way of life it is for these people who have no hope. One of the things that Relay For Life events around the world focus on is providing people with hope. Hope is why we Relay!
I like a statement that the American Cancer Society released recently. "Together with our millions of supporters, we save lives and create more birthdays by helping you stay well, helping you get well, finding cures and fighting back against this disease. Thanks to research funded by the American Cancer Society, many cancers that were once considered a death sentence can now be cured and for many more people their cancer can now be treated effectively". It is way to simplistic to be focusing on a cure. The American Cancer Society is focusing on "cures". The fact that many cancers that were once considered a death sentence can now be cured should give us hope.
The fact that seven years ago when I got involved with Relay For Life the treatment that my Mom will undergo tomorrow would not have been available to her gives me hope. The 97 to 100 percent cure rates that have been seen with renal cryoablation gives me hope.
Now with my Mom's cancer diagnosis and treatment, I have even more reasons to work hard in my positions with my local Relay For Life of Polk County, Arkansas and on the Arkansas State Relay For Life Leadership Council. The procedure that was used on her tumor has only been available for a few years. For me it is just one more proof that funding cancer research is so vitally important!
Just about everyone has been affected by cancer in one way or another. Relay For Life is a fun way to raise money and awareness for the American Cancer Society. There is probably no other cause that a person can support that touches more lives. Relay celebrates those who have battled cancer, it remembers those who have fallen, and it provides a way to fight back. That is why I am proud to be a part of Relay For Life. I hope that you will be a part of Relay For Life too. You can give others hope by becoming a Relay For Life volunteer. Please go to the Relay For Life website and search for an event near you.
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Monday, February 24, 2014
G is for Geocaching. If you are not familiar with Geocaching, It is a modern day treasure hunt powered by a GPS. Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the geocache (container) hidden at that location.
Geocaching got its start in May 2000 when the U.S. government allowed greater GPS accuracy. Tens of thousands of GPS receivers around the world had an instant upgrade.
For GPS enthusiasts, this was definitely a cause for celebration. Internet newsgroups were filled with ideas about how the technology could be used.
Dave Ulmer, a computer consultant, wanted to test the accuracy by hiding a navigational target in the woods. The idea was simple: Hide a container out in the woods and note the coordinates with a GPS unit. The finder would then have to locate the container with only the use of his or her GPS receiver.
On May 3rd he placed his own container, a black bucket, in the woods near Beavercreek, Oregon, near Portland. He shared the waypoint of his "stash" with the online community on sci.geo.satellite-nav.
Within three days, two different readers read about his stash on the Internet, used their own GPS receivers to find the container, and shared their experiences online. Throughout the next week, others excited by the prospect of hiding and finding stashes began hiding their own containers and posting coordinates.
Geocaching.com began operating on September 2, 2000. With a worldwide membership the website claims millions of caches and members in over 200 countries.
I have been geocaching since 2004. One of my favorite things about the sport is that it gets you to go places and discover things that you wouldn't otherwise.
On of my most memorable experiences was while geocaching in Tyler, Texas. I had found the geocache that I was searching for, and was finding my way back to my car when I got a bit lost. I had forgotten to put the coordinates of my cars location in the GPS, so I was just trying to remember my way back through the woods. I came into a brushy clearing and was trying to decide which way to go. There was an area that looked a bit wet and muddy, so I stepped carefully across it to avoid getting my shoes dirty. Imagine my surprise when the "solid" ground gave way, and I sank up to my armpits in stinky mucky quicksand. At first I was just angry that I was filthy, but then I started trying to get out and realized that I was in a serious predicament. Fortunately I was able to reach a small shrub than was strong enough for me to pull myself out.
I was now on the opposite side of the quicksand from where I needed to be and was trying to decide how to proceed. I layed out spread eagle and "swam" to the other side. It wasn't until I thought back on the experience as I was driving back to the condo that it dawned on me how much trouble I had actually been in. I was by myself, and my wife had no idea where I was. I never saw another person while I was out in the woods.
This is what I looked like after I got out.
If you have never tried geocaching I can recommend that you check it out. Wherever you live, I'm sure that there are some caches in your area. Just go to Geocaching.com and enter your location to see what is in your area. I use the geocaching app for iPhone and since I always have my phone with me I can quickly look for caches anywhere I am at. This weekend I found a number of caches in Conroe, Texas where I was visiting my son. Geocaching is a great family activity; give it a try.
To read many other great blogs or to become part of the ABC Wednesday family click here.
Thursday, February 20, 2014
This is my article as published in the February 20, 2014 issue of The Mena Star.
What is your comfort zone? Do you like to be comfortable? I know that I sure do. Last year my leg started to really hurt. It was very uncomfortable. After several months of pain I finally went to see the doctor. After doing x-rays and other tests, he informed me that I have arthritis. The only treatment is medication to relieve the pain. I was happy that there wasn't a more serious problem, but a bit disheartened that this problem would never go away.
Going to the doctor got me to thinking about how disease parallels our human nature. We are sick spiritually, and God wants to heal us so we won't be sick with sin. The Bible tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:17 that "anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!" We have all heard the term “Born Again” to describe the new life. It is probably one of the most common phrases in the Christian vocabulary. What is a "Born Again" Christian?
In 1 Peter 1:23, the Bible tells us, "you have been born again. This new life did not come from something that dies, but from something that cannot die. You were born again through God’s living message that continues forever". To be "Born Again" means to have a new life.
There is a law of life that states, "everything that is new eventually becomes old". That law has been painfully brought to my attention over the last couple of weeks as I have been going through lots of old pictures. I recently read an appropriate quote, "youth is a disease from which we all recover". I am recovering nicely, thank you very much.
The next time you are in a big parking lot such as at the mall or at Wal-Mart take a look at the cars. There are some nice new cars. There are some that are in need of some body work. There are a number of old work vehicles. Here in rural Arkansas, there are lots of beat up pick up trucks in the Wal-Mart parking lot. Every car in the parking lot was once a new car. My Daddy has lots of antique cars. They all have something in common. Whether they are nicely restored or are nothing but a rusted out hulk, they were all once new.
DADDY'S 1940 BUICK LIMITED
What happens when the new wears off of our "Born Again" experience? What happens when our new life isn't so new anymore? We get in a rut. When we are in a rut, and are just going through the motions, don’t you think God notices?
All of us have a comfort zone in our life. To get out of the rut, we have to move outside of our comfort zone.
How do we get outside of our comfort zone? Here is a list of ideas that I came up with. Everything on the list may not be for you, but maybe it will help you get some ideas how to get out of your comfort zone, and get out of the rut. Maybe they will help your new life to actually be new again.
1. Expand your circle of friends
2. Study a subject you haven’t studied
3. Examine your core beliefs
4. Listen more and talk less
5. Try doing something that you have been afraid to do
6. Eat between meals - spiritually - don’t let religion be rote
7. Make your own list
8. Don’t be afraid of other religious viewpoints – truth withstands
9. Don't worry about what other Christians are doing
10. Hug somebody
11. Go on a mission trip
12. Don’t be afraid to express yourself
13. Be very gentle when you express yourself
14. Tell people you love them
15. Loosen up, don’t be rigid
16. Affirm a leader
17. Smile, be happy
18. Read a version of the Bible you haven’t read before
19. Visit another country or culture
20. Change the order you do things
21. Help somebody who isn't expecting it
22. Don’t be afraid of change – it isn't inherently evil
23. Call someone you haven’t called for a long time
24. If someone invites you to their church--- GO
25. Learn a new song. Buy a new CD
26. Be more gracious
27. Visit someone you have never visited before
28. Read a Christian book you haven’t read before
29. Take time to do something you really enjoy
30. Give a totally unexpected gift to someone
31. Ask for other peoples opinions
32. Volunteer to tell the children's story
33. Pray instead of being critical
34. Let go of resentment
35. Shake up your prayer life. Pray at different times or ways
36. Say thank you more often
37. If you see your devotions are in a rut shake them up
38. Sit somewhere different in church
39. Intentionally use different phrases when you pray
40. Never forget what Jesus has done for you
Let’s resolve to get out of our comfort zone. Ask God every day for a new life.
Tuesday, February 18, 2014
F is for Flautist; Or is it F is for Flutist? The choice of "flautist" versus "flutist" is the source of vicious dispute among players of the instrument. "Flutist" is the earlier term in the English language, dating from at least 1603, while "flautist" is not recorded before 1860.
The first edition of the Oxford English Dictionary lists fluter as dating from circa 1400 and Fowler's Modern English Usage states that "there seems no good reason" why flautist should have prevailed over fluter or flutist. However, according to Webster's Dictionary of English Usage, flautist is the preferred term in British English, and while both terms are used in American English, flutist is "by far the more common choice."
James Galway summed up the way he feels about "flautist," saying, "I am a flute player not a flautist. I don't have a flaut and I've never flauted."
I've never seen James Galway though I have a number of his CD's. Even though I have never seen James Galway perform, I have had the privilege of hearing top quality flute music. A few years ago we had a concert at our church by Philip Kim and Katherine Lin. Philip and his family attended our church a number of years ago. I hadn't seen him for some time. When he was a little boy he idolized my daughter and would follow her around wherever she would go. Philip spent a few month living in Mena after he graduated from college. While he was here he put on a concert. It was amazing to have such quality classical music in our little church.
I asked Philip and Katherine if they would let me film them playing, and they graciously agreed. If you enjoy quality classical music be sure to check out these videos.
I'm sure that you will agree that Philip is an accomplished flutist. Or is he an accomplished flautist?
To read many other great blogs or to become part of the ABC Wednesday family click here.
Thursday, February 13, 2014
I love history and learning. Many things we learn about history are a bit uncertain, but it is always a little frustrating when you can't find out with any certainty the history of someone or something. The origin of St. Valentine and Valentine's Day is one of those topics.
Who was Saint Valentine? According to the website Catholics Online, The origin of St. Valentine, and how many St. Valentines there were, remains a mystery. One opinion is that he was a Roman martyred for refusing to give up his Christian faith. Other historians hold that St. Valentine was a temple priest jailed for defiance during the reign of Claudius. Whoever he was, Valentine really existed because archaeologists have unearthed a Roman catacomb and an ancient church dedicated to Saint Valentine. In 496 AD Pope Gelasius marked February 14th as a celebration in honor of his martyrdom.
It is unclear how the modern idea of celebrating Valentine's Day by giving gifts to your romantic partner started and evolved into the commercialized holiday that it is today. According to market research, Valentine's Day sales reached $17.6 billion last year; this year's sales are expected to total $18.6 billion.
The first time Valentine's Day is associated with romantic love is in the poem titled Parlement of Foules, written in 1382 by Geoffrey Chaucer. Chaucer wrote: "For this was on St. Valentine's Day, when every bird comes there to choose his mate." This poem was written to honor the first anniversary of the engagement of King Richard II of England to Anne of Bohemia. When they were married they were each only 15 years old.
Valentine's Day is mentioned by William Shakespeare in the play, Hamlet:
To-morrow is Saint Valentine's day,
All in the morning betime,
And I a maid at your window,
To be your Valentine.
It became very popular for young men to write verses of poetry on a card and give them to their lovers. As early as 1800, companies began mass-producing cards for those who had poor poetry skills. In the United States, the first mass-produced valentines of embossed paper lace were produced in 1847. The U.S. Greeting Card Association says that 190 million valentines are sent each year in the US. When you include the valentine cards exchanged by school children, the figure goes up to 1 billion.
This is My Valentine!
The best decision I have ever made was to marry the girl who stole my heart when she walked into Mr Brost's History class the beginning of my senior year of high school. I was too shy to talk to girls, so it was almost a year before she had any idea that I was interested. I think that the good Lord knew that I needed all of the help I could get so he made it so that our paths crossed in a number of ways that year. Mr. Brost selected five students to work together each week producing learning packets for History class. Gina and I were both in the group. We both worked at the Harris Pine furniture factory. I worked on the dresser jig, and she made drawers. I would spend my breaks back with the drawer makers, but she still didn't catch on.
It came time for our High School graduation and I still had never gotten up the nerve to ask her out. Finally I mustered up every ounce of courage I could find and asked her if she would march with me when we graduated. She told me that she would like to but she had already told Russell she would march with him. If I would talk to Russell she would march with me. Once again summoning up every bit of courage I had I talked to Russell. He was very gracious and bowed out. I was on cloud nine.
The rest is history. After a year of a long distance relationship, five hundred miles, we were finally in the same place at the same time. I knew that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with this girl. On June 15, 1975 we were married in the Denver First Seventh-day Adventist Church. The last 38 years have been an interesting and very fulfilling time.
I know that high school romances are not supposed to be forever and that when kids get married when they are in their teens the marriages aren't supposed to last, but we have proven those things wrong. It is still awesome to go through each day with my best friend, My Valentine! I can't wait to see where this journey leads.
Here is an awesome song written by my friend Paul to My Valentine.