Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Run Through the Rain

My An Arkie's Faith column from the September 21, 2016, issue of The Mena Star



My normal routine on a work day is to go to Wal-Mart when I get off of work. I do my banking there and often pick up a few things for supper. A few days ago as I drove to Wal-Mart, it began to sprinkle. As I walked into the store, there was just the occasional drop of rain. After making my bank deposit, I began shopping. I had quite a few things on my shopping list that evening. While I was selecting produce to put in my buggy, a huge clap of thunder resonated throughout the store. A couple of people nearby visibly jumped.


After checking out, I headed toward the doors and saw that it was pouring outside. The rain was coming down in buckets, a real toad strangler. By the time I put the groceries in my little Rambler, I was completely drenched; soaked through to the skin. By the time I had carried the groceries into the house, I looked like a drowned rat.

I felt much better after I took a shower and put on dry clothes. In a bit of irony, that very evening a friend of mine sent me a YouTube video about a heavy rainfall. The description of the short film on YouTube reads as follows. “This film was based on a true story (written by Bob Perks) and the premise of it is very simple. We are reminded of the need to avoid becoming weighed down by the trivial hindrances that soak our paths on a daily basis. There are always people in worse situations with real troubles, and that should put our small daily problems into perspective. Perhaps things aren’t as bad as they first seem.”


In the film, a group of people can be seen standing under a shelter, because of the heavy rain. A young girl asks her mother why they can’t just run through the rain, and her mother tells her that they would get soaked. But that’s when the young girl reminds her mother of something she had said that very morning. Talking about her husband’s battle with cancer she had said, “If we can get through this we can get through anything.” After thinking about her daughter’s question, the mother decides to run through the rain.

The young girl’s attitude reminds us that we can’t let such trivial things as rain hold us back. How we look at the problems we face in life is all a matter of perspective. Things may not be as bad as you think, and we have to remember that there are always people with far greater problems. It’s a simple but important life lesson, told so beautifully in this short film!


Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote a very personal poem titled, “The Rainy Day.” The first lines of the poem read, “The day is cold, and dark, and dreary; It rains, and the wind is never weary.” He personalizes his thoughts in the second stanza, “My life is cold, and dark, and dreary; It rains, and the wind is never weary; My thoughts still cling to the moldering Past, But the hopes of youth fall thick in the blast, And the days are dark and dreary.” But Longfellow doesn’t leave us in his dark place. The final stanza says, “Be still, sad heart! And cease repining; Behind the clouds is the sun still shining; Thy fate is the common fate of all, Into each life some rain must fall, Some days must be dark and dreary.”

Into every life, a little rain must fall. It’s what we do with the rain that makes the difference. Rain can be a force that destroys our lives and washes away hope, or it can become a tool God uses to bring healing, growth and new life to our hearts.


What are we afraid of when the rains of this life come our way? Are we afraid of getting wet? Nowhere in the Bible does God tell us that we won’t get wet. Pain in all its forms is the common universal human denominator we all share. Your pain and difficulties are different than mine, but we all have them.

We see this concept in Matthew 5:45 (GW) where it says, “He makes his sun rise on people whether they are good or evil. He lets rain fall on them whether they are just or unjust.” God doesn’t tell us that His children won’t have rainy days. He just says, “run through the rain, anyway. I will be there for you. You may get wet, but it will be OK.”


Gentle Reader, God wants you to trust Him. Don't feel down when the rains come. Instead, we should remember that God only has plans for us that are good. Jeremiah29:11 (NLT) helps us remember, “’For I know the plans I have for you," says the LORD. "They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.’” When it rains, we do not need to be disappointed and feel alone. We can have hope!

“I pray that the God who gives hope will fill you with much joy and peace while you trust in him. Then your hope will overflow by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13 (ICB)

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This is the short film that inspired this column.
 

Friday, September 16, 2016

Shreveport House Concert - Raina Rose - Korby Lenker


On September 11, my wife and I attended the Shreveport House Concert. The House Concert series started with the “house concert” idea (performances hosted in people’s homes) and made it better. The shows are a step up from the in-the-home thing—with more people space, nicer lighting, and better sound. But the small stage has a “living room” look and feel. It is a great place to listen to live music and visit with the artists and with the other attendees.

We have attended several concerts in the Shreveport House Concert series in the past. One of my favorite concerts was the when Three Penny Acre and The Honey Dewdrops performed together in 2013. You can read about that concert here.



The artists for the show on September 11, 2016, were Raina Rose and Korby Lenker. I had heard Raina Rose in concert once before and own and listen to her music, but I had never heard Korby Lenker. I first saw Raina Rose at The Blue Door in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.  I attended the Blue Door show because Smokey and the Mirror, Bryan and Bernice Hembree, were going to be there.  I love their music and have been to concerts of theirs in Arkansas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Texas.


The Blue Door concert was part of a live recording project by Goose Creek Music.  The album that was produced was called Three Nights Live. The album was recorded in November 2013 at three classic listening-room venues in Texas and Oklahoma: McGonigel’s Mucky Duck in Houston, The Cactus Café located on the University of Texas’ Austin campus, and The Blue Door. Three Nights Live featured Raina Rose, Smokey and the Mirror, and Rebecca Loebe, along with studio musicians Daniel Walker and Will Robertson,  We really enjoyed the concert and were instantly new fans of both Rebecca Loebe and Raina Rose.

I purchased CD's from Raina Rose at the concert and have been enjoying her music ever since. I have been particularly enjoying the new music that she has been releasing on Patreon to her subscribers. It seems so personal and heartfelt. When I found out that Raina would be in Shreveport, I made plans to attend even if it meant a 7-hour round trip drive.


One of the songs that Raina Rose has released to her Patreon subscribers is titled, "Sleep Waltzing." It made an impression on me the first time I heard it. She wrote the song during the time that her baby wasn't sleeping a lot. Raina wrote about the song saying, "from last May until a few weeks ago, he would be so restless and wakeful that I felt like a zombie most of the time. Every 45 minutes or so, he would stir and need to make sure his grownup was right there.I wrote this song in September, and it was basically the only song I wrote in this period of sleep deprivation." The lyrics are beautiful.

"I don't sleep anymore
I just pace round the floor
I just knock at the door
And peek in
To your dreams in the clouds
Floating round and round
Raining down to the ground
Jewels and pins."

As I was visiting with Raina before the concert, I asked her if Sleep Waltzing was on the set list. She said that it was if I wanted it to be. The fact that she played the song especially for me was very special. You can listen to Sleep Waltzing here.



Raina Rose had a great set and I really enjoyed listening to her. I was familiar with her music and it really did seem like a friend playing music for me. As much as I enjoyed Raina Rose, the big bonus of the evening was getting acquainted with Korby Lenker and his music.


When I knew that he would be at the concert I checked him out on Spotify and listened to the song that is currently the most popular song on his page, "Forbidden Fruit.' It wasn't really a style of music that I care for, but I wanted to hear Raina Rose so I thought I will listen to "this guy" and it will be OK.

When Korby started playing, I was immediately drawn into his music and his quirky intelligence. The song that I had listened to on Spotify was very pop oriented and produced, but the music that I was hearing was acoustic and just seemed very real. After listening to his set I felt like I actually knew who he was. My favorite song of the evening was a quick, catchy little song that left me with a smile on my face. just a soon as the first chorus of the song came around both my wife and I had the same thought - The song is about my daughter. Lyrics like, "you're like Jean Valjean when you stole my silver candlesticks; Like Elizabeth Bennett telling Mr. Darcy to stick it," made me chuckle and think about my daughter, who just like the song says, is a "Book Nerd."

"She was a book nerd
She had blonde hair
With a paperback in her back pocket
Wherever she was, she was right there
She was a book nerd."



I had a wonderful time at the concert. Shreveport House Concerts is a lovely venue and provides an intimate concert setting. The people there are so friendly. Both Raina Rose and Korby Lenker are amazing artists.If you ever have a chance to see either one of them in concert I recommend it.



Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The Peter Iredale

My An Arkie's Faith column from the September 14, 2016, issue of The Mena Star


After attending a wedding in the Portland, Oregon area, my wife and I took a couple of extra days to visit the Oregon Coast. We visited Cannon Beach with its iconic Haystack Rock and then traveled up to Seaside, Oregon where we spent the night.

The next day we made some stops along the way to Astoria. As we visited various sites, I remembered a trip that we took to the same area in 1975. I enjoyed visiting the same places over 40 years later and remembering times long ago.


One place that we revisited was the shipwreck of the Peter Iredale. On the beach at Fort Stevens State Park are the remains of the Peter Iredale. At low tide, you can walk out to the shipwreck and climb on it. The beach and the shipwreck are a popular tourist destination.

On September 26, 1906, the Peter Iredale left Salina Cruz, Mexico, for Portland, Oregon, where it was to pick up a cargo of wheat. Despite heavy fog, the crew managed to safely reach the mouth of the Columbia River early in the morning of October 25. The captain of the ship, H. Lawrence, later recalled that, as they waited for a pilot, “a heavy southeast wind blew, and a strong current prevailed. Before the vessel could change course, she was in the breakers, and all efforts to keep her off were unavailing.” The Peter Iredale ran aground at Clatsop Beach, hitting so hard that three of her masts snapped from the impact. Fortunately, none of the crew were seriously injured. Captain Lawrence ordered everyone to abandon ship.

All twenty-seven crewmen made it safely to the shore. Captain Lawrence stood at attention, saluted his ship, and said, “May God bless you and may your bones bleach in these sands.”


The shipwreck became an immediate tourist attraction. The day after the ship ran ashore the Oregon Journal reported that the wreck “proved a strong attraction and in spite of the gale that was raging scores flocked to the scene of the disaster.” They noted that the Astoria & Columbia River Railroad was already planning to run excursion trains to the site. Back home in England, Captain Lawrence had to appear before the British Naval Court because of the loss of the ship.

The ship has been broken up by wind, waves, and sand over the years. It looks significantly different than it did when I first saw it over 40 years ago. Even though the shipwreck happened 110 years ago, the wreck of the Peter Iredale continues to be a popular tourist attraction.


As I walked out to the shipwreck site and took photos, I was thinking that people have been coming here to see the results of the mistakes of Captain Lawrence and the crew of the Peter Iredale for over 100 years. I'm thankful that my mistakes are not on public display as a tourist attraction.

In Isaiah 43:25 (NKJV) God says, “I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; And I will not remember your sins.” What a powerful idea. God has promised that when He forgives you of your sin, He will not remember it ever again. The Bible regularly uses language about the depth of God’s forgiveness for our sins. He forgets them; He removes them as far from us as the east is from the west.

Psalms 103:10-13 (NCV) tells us that, “He has not punished us as our sins should be punished; He has not repaid us for the evil we have done. As high as the sky is above the earth, so great is his love for those who respect him. He has taken our sins away from us as far as the east is from the west. The Lord has mercy on those who respect him, as a father has mercy on his children."


Do you worry that there are certain sins you’ll be punished for someday? Are you afraid that God just can't forgive that terrible thing that you did? Listen to the promise that the Bible gives us in 1 John 1:9 (NKJV) “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  God is faithful and just to forgive our sins. We just need to confess our sins, and He has promised to forgive. God wants to forgive sinners! But in the minds of many people, this thought seems too good to be true.

Gentle Reader, because Jesus died for all our sins, God promises to forgive us and never bring up our sin again. He says, “I will be merciful when they fail, and I will erase their sins and wicked acts out of My memory as though they had never existed.” Hebrews 8:12 (VOICE) I’m thankful that my mistakes are forgiven and forgotten instead of being on public display like the wreck of the Peter Iredale.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Why, Lord?


Today is the 15th anniversary of 9/11. Most Americans can remember where they were and what they were doing when they heard the awful news that airplanes had crashed into the World Trade Center. I was at work when my wife called me to tell me what she saw on TV. I turned my radio on and listened all day as the news reports came in. I think that most people wonder why God allowed something so terrible to happen.

This year the news has been filled with the horrible atrocities carried out by ISIS. The truck killings in Nice, France killed over 80 people. 2016 saw the deadliest mass shooting in American history in carried out in Orlando, Florida. There are many places around the world where terrible things are happening. Yesterday in church we heard from missionaries who had been working in Venezuela for the past 11 years. The situation is currently so bad that they had to leave the country.

The past couple of months have been hard ones for our family. We don't understand why this is happening. Why does God allow these things to happen?  I think that is one of the biggest questions in Christianity.

There are many events that cause people to ask, "why". I don't have the answers as to why so many tragedies happen. I do know that ever since sin came into this world through Satan there have been terrible tragedies. I suppose that Adam and Eve asked "why" when Cain killed his brother Abel.

The only promise that a Christian has in this life is that there will be trouble. Our trouble free existence will be in Heaven where God will wipe away all tears.

Sad

When a tragedy happens, God says to ask your questions, but don't stop there. God has given a much greater opportunity. God challenges us to turn to Him for answers. God challenges us to argue with Him. God challenges us to trust Him explicitly.

Bad things happen in this world, to good people, and to bad people, although it seems like the good people get the worst. Why do bad things happen to good people? More specifically, why do bad things happen to me? God rarely answers that question. He would pour out only goodness on us all the time if He could, but because we live in a sinful world, He can't. Men have free will, and God will not override it.

Belizean Girl Plays in the Dump

Why do bad things happen to good people? It is because we live in a sinful world. I know that's not the kind of answer we like, but there is no better answer available.

Once you have learned this and deepened your faith that God has everything under control, then maybe there is a better way to approach the bad things that happen. Don't ask "Why Me, Lord?" when something bad happens. Ask God how He wants you to respond, and then leave the consequences in His hands.

It is all in our response. God can always bring good out of bad, but He needs us to cooperate with Him to bring out the greatest good. This is why Paul can say "Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice." Rejoice when good things happen, rejoice when bad things happen because we can trust God to do what is for our eternal best.

Monday, September 5, 2016

The Oregon Coast Revisited


After attending a wedding in the Portland, Oregon area we took a couple of extra days to visit the Oregon Coast. We visited Cannon Beach with its iconic Haystack Rock and then traveled up to Seaside, Oregon where we spent the night.


The next day we made a number of stops along the way to Astoria. As we visited various sites along the way I was remembering a trip that we took to the same area in 1975. I really enjoyed visiting the same places over 40 years later and remembering times long ago. One of the places that we revisited was Fort Clatsop, where the Lewis and Clark Expedition stayed near the mouth of the Columbia River during the winter of 1805-1806.

Photos of Fort Clatsop from 1975



Lewis, Clark, and their men had made the difficult trip from the upper Missouri River across the rugged Rockies, and down the Columbia River to the ocean. They wintered in the relatively mild climate of the Pacific Coast while winter raged in the mountain highlands.

The men finished building a small log fortress by Christmas Eve; they named their new home Fort Clatsop, in honor of the local Indian tribe. During the three months they spent at Fort Clatsop, Lewis and Clark reworked their journals and began preparing the scientific information they had gathered. Clark labored long hours drawing meticulous maps.

Rain fell all but twelve days of the expedition’s three-month stay. The men found it impossible to keep dry, and their damp furs and hides rotted and became infested with vermin. Nearly everyone suffered from persistent colds and rheumatism.

The expedition headed back home, leaving Fort Clatsop on March 23, 1806. The region they explored later became the state of Oregon–Lewis and Clark’s journey strengthened the American claim to the northwest and blazed a trail that was followed by thousands of trappers and settlers.

Photos of Fort Clatsop from 2016





Another place that we revisited was the shipwreck of the Peter Iredale. On September 26, 1906, the Iredale left Salina Cruz, Mexico, bound for Portland, where it was to pick up a cargo of wheat for the United Kingdom. Despite encountering heavy fog, they managed to safely reach the mouth of the Columbia River early in the morning of October 25. The captain of the ship, H. Lawrence, later recalled that, as they waited for a pilot, “a heavy southeast wind blew and a strong current prevailed. Before the vessel could be veered around, she was in the breakers and all efforts to keep her off were unavailing.” The Iredale ran aground at Clatsop Beach, hitting so hard that three of her masts snapped from the impact. Fortunately, none of the crew were seriously injured. Captain Lawrence ordered that the ship be abandoned.


All twenty-seven crewmen made it safely to the shore. Captain Lawrence stood at attention, saluted his ship, and said “May God bless you and may your bones bleach in these sands.” The British Naval Court later ruled that the sudden wind shift and the strong current were responsible for the stranding of the ship, and that the captain and his officers were “in no wise to blame.”

The shipwreck became an immediate tourist attraction. The day after the ship ran ashore the Oregon Journal reported that the wreck “proved a strong attraction…and in spite of the gale that was raging scores flocked to the scene of the disaster.” They noted that the Astoria & Columbia River Railroad was already planning to run excursion trains to the site.

Although the ship has been broken up by wave, wind, and sand over the years, the wreck of the Peter Iredale continues to be a popular tourist attraction.

Photos of the Peter Iredale through the years




My photo from 1975



My photos from 2016




Another place that that we revisited was South Jetty. Construction began on the first jetty on the south side of the Columbia River in 1885, and the system was completed by 1917. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built the jetty to concentrate the flow of water from the river into the ocean, thereby creating a deeper, more stable channel through which ships could navigate. Railroad tracks were laid on top of the jetty so that trains could bring more material as the jetty was extended. Railroad ties were still there when we visited in 1975 but are no longer there.

Photo from 1975


Photos from 2016





At the end of a lovely day we visited Astoria. I know that we were there in 1975 but I couldn't find any photos from then, Here are photos from Astoria from this year.






I want to say thank you to my brother-in-law and sister-in-law for making both the 1975 trip and the 2016 trip so special!

Friday, September 2, 2016

The Wedding

My An Arkie's Faith column from the September 7, 2016, issue of The Mena Star


Recently I had the honor of officiating at my niece’s wedding. It was a lovely ceremony, and we had a wonderful time visiting with family. It was especially nice to see two people so excited and happy to be getting married.


My niece and her fiancé had planned events over a four-day period. With friends and family traveling long distances, they wanted to have time to spend visiting with people. The wedding venue was a beautiful southern style mansion built in 1851 by Captain John C. Ainsworth, in the first capital of the Oregon Territory. The ceremony was held under the spreading branches of an impressive Ponderosa Pine that is over two hundred years old.


Weddings are wonderful, joyous events. There is a lot of time and expense involved in preparing for a wedding because it is such an important symbol of a loving relationship. Marriage is the most intimate of all relationships. When God wanted to express the love He has for His people; He could not have chosen a more powerful image than the church as His bride.


In Ephesians 5:25 (NKJV) the Bible tells us, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her.” When a bride and groom are in love, they can think of nothing else but each other. That is the kind of love God has for His church, His people.

The symbol of marriage between God and his people also occurs in the Old Testament.  In Isaiah 62:5 (NLT) it says, “God will rejoice over you as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride.”

In the New Testament, the symbol of the bridegroom is used in a story found in Matthew 25, where it says that God’s kingdom is like ten young women who took oil lamps and went out to greet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were smart. The foolish women took lamps, but no extra oil. The smart women took jars of oil to refill their lamps.


The bridegroom didn’t show up when they expected him, and they all fell asleep. In the middle of the night, someone yelled out, “He’s here!” All ten women got up and got their lamps ready. The foolish women said to the smart ones, “our lamps are going out; lend us some of your oil.” They answered, “there might not be enough to go around; go buy your own.” While they were out buying oil, the bridegroom arrived. When everyone who was there to greet him had gone into the wedding feast, the door was locked.

Who does the bridegroom represent in this story? Jesus is the bridegroom, and the parable refers to his second coming. Jesus wanted us to know that He will return at an unexpected time. The bridesmaids knew the wedding was near; they could read the signs, but five of them were unprepared. When the bridegroom came, they weren’t ready.

Revelation 19:7,8 (NLT) says, “Let us be glad and rejoice, and let us give honor to Him. For the time has come for the wedding feast of the Lamb, and His bride has prepared herself. She has been given the finest of pure white linen to wear. For the fine linen represents the good deeds of God’s holy people.” No earthly honeymoon can be even remotely close to what Jesus has in store for his bride. In 1 Corinthians 2:9 (NLT) we learn that “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.”


During the time that Jesus lived here on the earth, a man would never consider getting married unless he had a house ready for his new bride. Jesus has promised us that he will prepare a place for his bride.  We can find His promise in John 14:2,3 (NKJV) where it says, “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.”

Gentle Reader, Jesus has promised to prepare a place for you. It will be more awesome than anything you have ever imagined. The most beautiful places on Earth will be nothing compared to what Jesus is preparing for you. When a bride and groom are passionately in love, they can think of nothing else but each other; it is an obsession! God has passionate love for His bride, and He desires us to have passionate love for Him. Today Jesus is asking for your hand in marriage.  What will your answer be?