V is for View. I really thought long and hard on the "V" post. View seemed like it was a bit weak, but couldn't think of anything else. Let's start with the view from the house I grew up in. For several years we lived in a house just outside of Erie, Colorado. Our house sat on a little rise, and we had a great view of the Front Range. A couple of years ago I visited the old place and took this picture of the view.
VIEW FROM MY CHILDHOOD HOME IN ERIE, COLORADO
When I was a boy, I would spend a week every summer at Glacier View Ranch. I always had a good time at summer camp. A few years ago, I made a return visit to Glacier View. I hadn't been there since I was a boy. I was surprised by how much things looked the same. The view from the parking lot was just as I remembered it.
VIEW FROM GLACIER VIEW RANCH
One of the most beautiful views I have ever seen is the view from my brother-in-law Duane's cabin. It is located above Leadville, Colorado and the surroundings are beautiful. The view from Duane's cabin is as pretty as any view in the area.
VIEW FROM DUANE'S CABIN IN LEADVILLE, COLORADO
One of my favorite views is the view of my backyard. Each season has a special beauty. there are dogwoods and redbuds in the spring. In the summer the trees have so many leaves that you can't tell I live in town. I believe that it is the most beautiful in the fall. Here is a view of my backyard in the fall. Duane built the table and benches out of granite slabs.
VIEW OF MY BACKYARD IN THE FALL
The Talimena Scenic Drive has some of the most beautiful views in Arkansas. We are very blessed to have such beautiful views so close. Here are a couple of views from the Talimena Drive.
VIEW FROM GRAND VIEW VISTA
WINTER VIEW FROM THE TALIMENA SCENIC DRIVE
One of the most amazing views I have seen in Arkansas, is the view from The Lodge At Mount Magazine. Mount Magazine State park is the highest point in Arkansas. The lodge and the grounds surrounding it have breathtaking views. The great room has large windows that look out from the highest point in Arkansas.
VIEW FROM THE LODGE AT MOUNT MAGAZINE
The last few days we have been experiencing the effects of a very destructive ice storm. Last Thursday freezing rain coated the trees and broke many trees causing many roads to be impassible and widespread electrical outages. Here in town we were without electricity for about 24 hours, but many Polk County residents are still without power 6 days later. Here is the view down Polk Road 70.
VIEW DOWN POLK ROAD 70 NEAR MENA, ARKANSAS
You can read the blog post that I wrote shortly after our electricity was restored by clicking here. Even though the ice storm was so destructive, it created some beautiful scenes. This photo was taken near my house.
VIEW DOWN SOUTH MENA STREET
After all of this ice and cold weather, I saved my favorite view for last. Gina and I love to visit Belize. Our favorite place is San Pedro on Ambergris Caye. The last two times we have visited San Pedro, we have stayed at the SunBreeze Hotel right on the beach. The view from our room was beautiful. Right now we are having freezing rain and sleet here in Arkansas. I wish I was in Belize with this view.
VIEW FROM THE SUNBREEZE HOTEL IN SAN PEDRO, BELIZE
Several weeks ago we spent the weekend in Oklahoma City. While we were there we visited the Oklahoma City National Memorial. The memorial honors the victims and the survivors of the 1995 bombing of the Murrah Federal Building .
On the morning of April 19, 1995, Timothy McVeigh parked a rental truck with explosives in front of the Murrah Federal Building and at 9:02am, an explosion destroyed much of the building, killing 168 people.
The site is now home to the Oklahoma City National Memorial. As we walked among the 168 chairs that represent the lives lost I began to feel a profound sadness. The chairs stand in nine rows to represent the nine floors of the building, and each chair bears the name of someone killed on that floor. Nineteen smaller chairs stand for the children who died in the blast.
The memorial is beautiful at night with subdued lights visible in the crystal bases of the chairs. In front of the chairs is a reflecting pool between two twin gates. Across the street from the Memorial, Saint Joseph Catholic Church has erected a white stone statue of Jesus that shows Him with His head bowed, standing with His back to the memorial, and with His right hand over his face. The words "And Jesus Wept" are engraved on the granite base.
I had wanted to visit the memorial because of my love for history, but never expected the experience to be so emotional. That night sleep wouldn't come as I thought about those terrible events of April 19, 1995. After I finally went to sleep, I dreamt about the bombing and woke up frequently. I didn't sleep well at all.
The memorial had done its job. You see the purpose of any memorial is to get us to remember the event and or people that it is memorializing. Before that night when I visited the Oklahoma City National Memorial I hadn't thought about the bombing for a long time. After seeing the memorial I was focused on the event and the people it represented.
A memorial is something that serves as a focus to help remember an event. Are there memorials in the Bible? There is a memorial right in the Ten Commandments. Exodus 20:8-12 says, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it”.
What are we to remember when we keep the Sabbath? That God created the heavens and the earth. When did God set up this memorial to creation? Genesis 2:1-3 tells us, “Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made”.
On the seventh day of creation, God blessed and sanctified the seventh day. It is a memorial of creation. Many people no longer believe that God created the world in seven days. If we deny that God is the Creator, we have no reason to worship God.
One of the main topics of the book of Revelation is worship. The first angel’s message in Revelation 14 includes a call to the world to worship God as our Creator. Look at Revelation 14:6,7. It says, “And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, saying with a loud voice, ‘Fear God, and give glory to Him; for the hour of His judgment is come: and worship Him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.’” God wants a people who will worship Him as Creator.
To reject the literal account of creation as found in Genesis is to reject not only Old Testament worship but New Testament worship. In Romans 1:24,25 the Bible says, “Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
When we deny God’s creative power we end up worshiping the creation instead of the Creator. Ephesians 2:8 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.” And Hebrews 11:3 tells us that, “By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible”. Faith is important to the Christian, and by faith we understand that God created the universe.
Creation is important; It is the reason we worship God, and the seventh day has stood as a memorial to God’s creative power from creation week until today.
Electrical power is one of those things that we don't spend much time thinking about. When we flip the switch we expect the lights to go on. When we come home from work on a cold day we expect the house to be comfortable. When we open the refrigerator we expect the milk to be cold.
When the power goes off we definitely think about it. It is about all we can think about. Last night our power went out. A heavy ice storm broke many tree limbs and damaged many power lines.
We went to bed and piled extra blankets on the bed to keep warm. When we got up this morning the power was still off and the house was cold. Our house is all electric, but we do have a kerosene heater. It had been so long since we had used it I wasn't sure that it would work. After a bit of maintenance I was able to get the heater going. We pulled our chairs up close to the heater and didn't move very far from it during the day.
We had no way of cooking, but my wife became a great kerosene heater chef and prepared some great lentil soup on the heater. We were able to heat water for hot drinks on the heater and also toasted some bagels. The lentil soup was so tasty. We had a great meal! We spent most of the afternoon sitting close to the heater and watching the bird at our bird feeders. The birds really appreciated all of the free food.
We lit our emergency candles and got out our hand cranked flashlight/radio combo. We didn't let our lack of power get us down, although the idea of a hot shower was appealing. We did wonder when the power would be restored. We knew that there were many lineman working on the power lines. We remembered the ice storm of Christmas 2000 when we were without power for 6 days. Although we were doing OK we certainly didn't want a repeat of the 2000 storm.
Once during the afternoon our lights came on for a few seconds, but then went right off again. We knew that the linemen were working in our area and we were hopeful, but several hours passed and they didn't come on again. I am very thankful for all of the hard working lineman who work day and night during these storms in very difficult and dangerous situations so that out power can be restored.
When the sun went down and it was dark we got out candles and battery operated lanterns. We had hoped for power by this time but had resigned ourselves to possibly sleeping another night in a cold dark house. We wondered how early we should go to bed. Suddenly we had lights again. But after a minute or two they went out and we were once again in the dark. Only a few minutes later the lights came back on and so far they have stayed on. Being without power for about 24 hours really makes you realize how much you rely on it and how much you should appreciate it and not take it for granted.
Just like we take our electrical power for granted, we also often take God's power for granted. We expect Him to love us. We expect Him to be there for us, but how often do we think about His power? I hope that my experience of being without power will remind me to not take God's power for granted. I want to say with King David, "But as for me, I will sing about your power. Each morning I will sing with joy about your unfailing love. For you have been my refuge, a place of safety when I am in distress". Psalms 59:16
When I was growing up in Colorado, my pastor was Pastor George. I can still remember him teaching on the scripture 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness”. 1 John 1:9 became a favorite verse.
THE LONGMONT COLORADO SDA SCHOOL WHERE I TOOK BAPTISMAL CLASSES FROM PASTOR GEORGE
Over the years I have come to realize that there is a problem with this verse. The problem is not actually with the verse, but that many Christians don’t believe it. They say they believe, but their actions show they don’t feel forgiven. This idea isn't new. Jesus addressed it in a parable found in Matthew 18.
While settling his account with his servants, a man was brought before the king. He owed the king 10,000 talents. When it was decreed that he and his wife and children were to be sold for the debt, he begged for patience and promised to pay the debt. The king forgave his debt and released him.
The servant then went out and found a fellow servant who owed him 100 denarii and demanded payment. The man begged for patience and promised to pay the debt, but the servant had him thrown in prison. When the king found out what the servant had done he told him, “shouldn't you have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you”?
When this story is told, the point that is usually brought out is “You can’t be forgiven unless you forgive.” It is a very valid point. The idea is found in the Lord’s Prayer found in Matthew 6:12, “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors”.
As important as this idea is, I want to look at this story from a different angle than you may have before. The first thing we are made aware of is that the man in the parable has a large debt of 10,000 talents. Just how much is 10,000 talents? A Greek talent was 82 pounds or 1,312 ounces of silver. A denarii was a workers daily wage and was about 1/10 an ounce of silver in weight.
Let’s do the math. One talent equals 13,120 denarius. The man owed 10,000 talents. The man’s debt was 131,200,000 days wages. It would take 360,000 years to pay off. Are you getting the idea that this is a LARGE debt?
An entry wage worker in the United States makes approximately 16,000 dollars a year. 16,000 times 360,000 is approximately 6,000,000,000. The man owed 6 billion dollars. There was absolutely no way this debt could be paid. The people listening to Jesus tell this story knew that this was an impossible debt to repay. You would never know that to listen to the man.
In Matthew 18:26, he says, ‘Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’
What was the man thinking? Unless his name was Bill Gates, there was no way he could ever repay 6 billion dollars. There are only about 100 people in the world that have those kinds of assets. Fortunately the king was compassionate. But very soon after having his debt forgiven the servant goes and finds someone who owes him a few dollars and demands payment. How much was the servant owed? The Bible tells us that the debt was 100 denarii. A denarii was a day’s wages. If we use 60 dollars as a day’s wages, the debt was 6,000 dollars.
I want to introduce another concept. Forgiveness is two way street. Not only do we have to forgive others to receive forgiveness, to be forgiven we have to accept forgiveness. There have been cases in the United States where people have rejected pardons. According to the law a pardon can be rejected, and must be affirmatively accepted to be officially recognized by the courts.
PRESIDENT ANDREW JACKSON
George Wilson was pardoned by President Andrew Jackson. Strangely, Wilson refused to accept the pardon. The case went before the Supreme Court in which the court stated: "A pardon is a deed, to the validity of which delivery is essential, and delivery is not complete without acceptance. It may then be rejected by the person to whom it is tendered; and if it is rejected, we have discovered no power in this court to force it upon him."
I don’t think that the man in the parable accepted the pardon. Even though he was forgiven a 6 billion dollar debt, as far as we know he never said thank you, he just walked away. The first thing he does instead of falling at the feet of the king in gratitude, was to go out and try to collect a debt owed him.
Why do you think he did that? Maybe he was simply greedy. His huge debt had been forgiven, but he wanted the money that was rightfully his. I think there is another possibility.
What if he hadn’t really accepted the king’s offer of pardon? Maybe he was intending to pay the money to the king on his debt. He had pleaded with the king to have patience and he would repay the 6 billion dollars. Maybe he didn’t like charity. Maybe he didn’t want to live with the sense of obligation that the forgiveness might give him.
He had a hard road ahead of him if he was going to pay off 6 billion dollars, 6,000 dollars at a time. Just 999,999 more payments like that and the debt would be gone.
As ridiculous as that seems, there are many Christians who have the same attitude as the man in the parable. They have a terrible debt of sin. It is even more than 6 billion dollars. Paul tells us in Romans 6:23, ‘For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord’.
Even though the amount of the debt is so clearly stated, some Christians feel that they can repay the debt by their works. Jesus has promised to forgive our sin debt. 1 John 1:9 tells us, ‘If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness’.
It is my job to install windshields. One day a customer was watching while I was installing his windshield. The urethane that I was using seemed irresistible. He just had to touch it. He got urethane on his hand. He didn’t want me to know he had touched it. I noticed he was quietly rubbing on his hand with a shop towel. If you try to wipe urethane off, all it does is smear and make a bigger mess. When I noticed his problem, I offered him some solvent that helps clean the urethane up. He said that he didn’t need any.
As I worked I noticed him continuing to try to clean up. By this time he has it on both hands and has gotten it on his coat. Urethane doesn’t come out of clothes. Finally I just got a shop towel and soaked it in solvent and gave it to him. By trying to clean it up himself he had made a monumental mess. Have you ever made a big mess of your life by trying to clean things up yourself? I know I have.
Jesus has offered to forgive us of our sin debt, no matter how ridiculously large the debt is, and he has promised to clean us up. Let’s take him at his word. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness”.
We are looking forward to celebrating Thanksgiving with my son and his wife. We will be leaving this afternoon and heading for Conroe, Texas. The purpose of Thanksgiving is eating until we are stuffed... and giving thanks. I appreciate the reminder to give thanks for our blessings, but realize that we should be giving thanks 365 days of the year.
In the U.S. there has been an annual
Thanksgiving observed since 1863.In
that year, with the county involved in a horrific Civil War, President Lincoln
issued a proclamation declaring a day of Thanksgiving.
One of the traditions of Thanksgiving is talking about the
things we are thankful for.There are
many things, but I am truly thankful for my family.
The Greek word translated thanksgiving is eucharista.The English spelling is Eucharist.My dictionary gives the following
definitions.1.The sacrament of Holy Communion; the
sacrifice of the Mass; the Lord's Supper.2.The giving of thanks;
The word that most people use to describe the Lord’s Supper
means thanksgiving.What a great
thought.The Lord’s Supper is a ceremony
in which we give thanks for what Jesus has done for us.The root word in Eucharist is charis.Charis is normally translated as grace.That makes sense.Think with me for a moment.What happens at the beginning of your
Thanksgiving meal?Someone says “grace”.Why do we say that they say grace?Saying grace is giving thanks.
At a British conference on religions, experts from around
the world debated what, if any, belief was unique to the Christian faith. They
began eliminating possibilities. Incarnation? Other religions had different
versions of gods appearing in human form. Resurrection? Again, other religions
had accounts of return from death. The debate went on for some time until C.S.
Lewis wandered into the room.“What’s
the rumpus about?” he asked, and heard in reply that his colleagues were
discussing Christianity’s unique contribution among world religions. Lewis
responded, “Oh, that’s easy. It’s grace.”
After some discussion, the conferees had to agree. The
notion of God’s love coming to us free of charge, no strings attached, is
singularly Christian.Of all the world’s
religions, only Christianity dares to make God’s love unconditional.
In 2 Timothy 1:9, the Bible says, “He has saved us and
called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His
own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began”.
Before you were born there was grace for you.Thank God for grace!As wonderful as it is, grace is not well
understood and often not really believed. We use the word a lot but rarely
think about what it means. It's probably true that most of us think
infrequently about God's grace.
Part of our problem is in the nature of grace itself. Grace
is scandalous. It’s hard to accept. It’s hard to believe. It’s hard to receive.
We are skeptical when a telemarketer tells us, "I'm not trying to sell you
anything. I just want to offer you a free trip to Hawaii." Automatically
we wonder, "What's the catch?" because we have all been taught that
"there's no free lunch."
Grace shocks us in what it offers. It frightens us with what
it does for sinners. Grace teaches us that God does for others what we would
never do for them. We would save the not-so-bad. God starts with prostitutes
and then works downward from there. Grace is a gift that costs everything to
the giver and nothing to the receiver. It is given to those who don't deserve
it, barely recognize it, and hardly appreciate it.
Grace means that no one is too bad to be saved. The Bible is
full of examples; Liars, cheaters, murderers, adulterers, prostitutes.God specializes in saving really bad people.
Grace also means that some people may be too good to be
saved. That is, they may have such a high opinion of themselves that they think
they don't need God's grace. They may admit they are sinners but they don't
admit they are spiritually dead.
This view of grace is hard for good people to accept because
it means we must give up our "goodness" in order to be saved. We must
admit that nothing we have done matters in the least when it comes to being
forgiven by God. God has designed our salvation so that he alone gets the
Ephesians 2:8,9 tells us,“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of
yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast”.
Imagine what heaven would be like if you had to earn your way
there. "I was a preacher." "I built churches across the
world." "I gave a million dollars to world missions." "I
had hundreds of baptisms at my meetings." "I volunteered at the
hospital." “I baked cookies for the school kids.” As good as those things
are they will not help forgive even one sin. They will not save you or help
Can you just imagine someone putting his arm around Jesus
and saying, "You and me, Jesus, we did it: You died on the cross and I
baked the cookies”? I am so thankful that it's not like that. When Jesus died
on the cross, he paid the full price for your salvation. Jesus paid the price
all by himself.
Grace is never cheap.Grace costs the ultimate.It is
just that you and I aren’t the ones paying.“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that
whosever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life”.John 3:16
Thank God for grace!Look for grace in unexpected places. I know that you will find it. Paul
tells us in 1 Timothy 1:14, "the grace of our Lord is exceedingly
T is for transportation. There are many different kinds of transportation, so we are going to look at a number of them.
There were two main types of transportation that allowed this country to expand at such a fast pace in the 1800's. The first was steamboats. The first commercial steamboat transportation was Between Albany, New York, and New York City in 1807. Before long there were steamboats on just about every navigable river in the U.S.
BIG AND LITTLE
The need to transport goods to and from places that were not on a waterway brought about the steam locomotive. The first railroad to transport goods in the U.S. was the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. The first steam powered vehicle in the U.S. was the Tom Thumb locomotive that operated on the Baltimore and Ohio tracks starting in 1830.
1940 BUICK LIMITED
The automobile changed the way Americans traveled, and just about put an end to train travel as a way of getting around. Americans are now very mobile. My Daddy loves to buy and sell old cars. This 1940 Buick gets a lot of attention when he drives it.
Cars come in all sizes as you can see here. I was driving down the street in Valle Hermoso, Mexico when I spotted this tiny VW Beetle. I pulled over to talk to the owner and took a picture of it. He wanted me to get in it for a picture.
MOTORCYCLES IN EUREKA SPRINGS
In the area where I live, Motorcycles are very popular. The Christian Motorcycle Association is headquartered here. Motorcyclist come from hundred and sometimes thousands of miles away to ride the roads and see the beauty of the area.
I love to travel to Belize. San Pedro, Belize is on a densely populated island, so it has its own special transportation needs. Here are some photos of transportation in San Pedro
RIDING TO WORK
SAN PEDRO FERRY
As you can see, San Pedro has many varied forms of transportation. Just about everyone who travels to San Pedro travels by air. Flying is the newest form of transportation. Today, the global airline industry consists of over 2000 airlines operating more than 23,000 aircraft, providing service to over 3700 airports. Last year, the world’s airlines flew almost 28 million scheduled flight departures and carried over 2 billion passengers