Monday, October 28, 2013

PET - Personal Energy Transportation

P is for PET.  No it is not an animal or bird kept for companionship or pleasure, it is Personal Energy Transportation.  PET's are heavy duty hand cranked personal mobility devices designed for use by the disabled in developing countries.

I first learned about PET's from my brother-in-law.  For over a year now he has been volunteering at the PET assembly location in Columbia, Missouri.  PET International is a faith-based, volunteer-powered, humanitarian, and world-wide organization.  PET's mission is to provide appropriate mobility for all of God’s children in need. They work with all groups, religious or secular, and seek to provide mobility first for those in greatest need and with least resources in poor or underdeveloped countries.

PET began in 1994 when Larry Hills, a missionary in Zaire, Africa, told Pastor Mel West of the great need for three-wheeled, hand-cranked wheelchairs for victims of polio and landmines. Mel contacted Earl Miner, product designer and long-time friend and mission partner, and the process of the prototype design began.  In 1995, when prototype development was ready for field testing, four were shipped to Larry Hills with the instructions to put these in the worst place you can find, and see if they pass the test. Larry did, and the PETs did.   Since 1995 PET International has grown from Mel West's one stall garage in Columbia, Missouri to over 20 assembly locations. PET's are in use in 100 countries around the world.

The PET's are assembled by an all volunteer labor force.  The Columbia, Missouri location has about 90 volunteers.  My brother-in-law works there a couple of hours a day.  Many of the volunteers work just an hour or two a week, but this all volunteer work force has produced 1470 PET's so far this year.  Since 1995, 40,000 PET's have been built and distributed.

I find the PET organization fascinating.  They focus on helping a group of people that have been neglected.  Each PET is hand built by a team of volunteers who take time out of their lives to make sure that as many people as possible are given the gift of mobility.  Even though all of the labor is donated there are lots of costs associated with the project and donations are appreciated.  Donations can be made on their website.

PET International is an amazing charity that started with one man learning of a need and giving of himself to try to fill the need.  He had one goal; making life better for the poverty-stricken, neglected, rejected and disenfranchised of the world.  Even though he knew that one man couldn't help everyone in need, he knew he could help someone.  Instead of being overwhelmed by the large numbers of people in the world who need help with mobility, an estimated 20 million,   Mel West and all of those PET volunteers are making a difference in as many lives as they can. They can help even more people with your help.

PET international works hand in hand with many charitable organizations.  PET's are provided at no cost to any agencies that will:

1. Send a preliminary request to PET MO Columbia outlining the nature and extent of the need.

2. That agency will then be sent a more detailed application and begin the communication regarding a possible shipment of PETs.

3. If the application is approved and a shipment is made PET will expect the receiving agency to arrange and pay for shipping from the USA coast to the point of need.

4. As distribution is made, provide PET with the names of each recipient and a brief comment about the nature of their need.

5. Send PET photos of 20% of the recipients.

6. Continue in communication with PET as partners in the provision of mobility.

In one of the articles that founder Mel West wrote about PET he included this quote.   “We all participate in weaving the social fabric; we should therefore all participate in patching the fabric when it develops holes.” Anne C. Weisberg

The ABC Wednesday Meme is a fun way to see some great blogs.

Friday, October 25, 2013

The First Lie

Has anyone ever told a lie about you?  How did you feel?  A few years ago I spent quite a little time on a local internet forum.  I enjoyed being a part of conversations on a variety of topics.  The forum was supposed to be anonymous and it was against the rules to use people’s real names. One of the participants posted lies about me and my business on the forum.  I never knew who posted the lies.  I have no idea how many people believed them.

If you have had lies told about you, I’m sure you didn't like it. Imagine how God feels when lies are told about him.  From the very beginning, Satan’s plan has been to tell lies about God.  Speaking about Satan, Jesus said, “He is a liar and the father of lies”.

Satan told the very first lie recorded in the Bible.  In an encounter with Eve, while Satan was taking on the appearance of a serpent, Eve told him, “God said, ‘You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do, you will die.’”  “You won’t die!” the serpent replied to the woman.

The very first lie that Satan told was, “You won’t die”.  Interestingly many people today believe this first lie.  We know that Satan said “You won’t die”.  Let’s see what God has to say.

Romans 6:23 tells us, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord”.  James 1:15 says, “Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin; and sin when it is full-grown brings forth death”.

God says that sin leads to death but many Christians say something very different.  They say that the wicked will live forever.  What did Satan tell Eve?  Even if you disobey God, You will not die.  Does the Bible really teach that God will keep people alive forever in hell suffering torment that never ends?

Let’s take a look at God’s character.  Psalms 89:14 says, “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne; Mercy and truth go before Your face.”  Justice is the foundation of God’s kingdom.

Are we to believe that our heavenly Father hates unrepentant sinners so much that He tortures them in flames through ceaseless ages? What kind of justice is that? What kind of a person would burn someone alive and deliberately prolong the process?

Many sincere people are saying, "If the Bible teaches that God tortures sinners in hell forever, then I reject the Bible. And I reject that kind of God."

In Romans 2:5,6, the apostle Paul speaks of the “righteous judgment of God; who will render to every man according to his deeds.”   Surely it would be all out of proportion to torture the wicked for eternity for the sins of a brief lifetime.

God has never been a vengeful tyrant—and He won’t become a vengeful tyrant when the time arrives to punish the wicked.

The Bible teaches that there is life only in Christ. 1 John 5:12 says, “He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.”  A person burning in hell would not have a pleasant life, but he would have life. According to the Bible, the wages of sin is death, not eternal torment.

In Psalms 37:20, David said:  "the wicked shall perish, ... they shall be consumed; into smoke shall they consume away."   In Matthew 10:28, Jesus said:  "fear him [God] which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell."   In 2 Thessalonians 1:9, Paul wrote that the disobedient "shall be punished with everlasting destruction."

Another dilemma for those who believe in eternal torment is the measure of what it cost Jesus to ransom the sinner.  Jesus gave His life to redeem man from the grave.  Sin is a capital offense. The penalty for the unrepentant sinner must match the penalty Christ paid for sin, his life, not eternal life in hellfire.

If the wicked live eternally in hell, then they have the same thing as the righteous except in a different place. Who could give them eternal life but Jesus? John 3:16 settles this issue so clearly and simply.  I like the way it reads in the new version, The Voice.  “For God expressed His love for the world in this way: He gave His only Son so that whoever believes in Him will not face everlasting destruction, but will have everlasting life”.

Those who do not believe in Jesus will perish. They will die. They will die the second death-an eternal death from which they will never be raised. It is everlasting destruction, an endless, eternal punishment, because it is an endless, eternal death.

And what about those who believe in Jesus and receive everlasting life?  John described their future home with these words in Revelation 21:4, "And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away."

Can you find any room in those wonderful words for any suffering on the part of anybody in the whole recreated universe? God said crying and pain would be no more. Would someone in eternal torment cry? Would they be in pain? If you knew that your loved ones were being subjected to the most horrible painful torture how would you feel? Would you cry?

The most wonderful news is that nobody needs to be lost or burned in any kind of hell at all. All of us can have everlasting life through Jesus Christ, through simple faith in Him, and I hope you’ll choose to have faith in Jesus.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Let Them Eat Cake - The Mena Star

This is my article as published in the October 24, 2013 issue of The Mena Star

My favorite podcast is called Stuff You Missed in History Class.  I have always loved history and this podcast brings so many things to my attention that I never knew before.  Recently I listen to a podcast on the life of Marie Antoinette.  I learned something new about those famous words of hers, "let them eat cake".

Even if you know very little about Marie Antoinette, you have probably heard that when the peasants of France were starving from lack of bread she proclaimed, "let them eat cake".

Actually, Marie Antoinette never said it.  She was known to be concerned for the peasants.  There are records of her taking care of a peasant who'd been gored by a wild animal as well as taking in an orphaned boy.  Besides written accounts of her kind and generous nature, there are undisputed facts that prove she never spoke those famous words.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau wrote "let them eat cake" in his book, Confessions, that was first published in 1782. Marie Antoinette was 10 years old under her mother's care in Austria when the book was published.  

The expression isn't as harsh as it sounds. What Rousseau actually wrote is "qu'ils mangent de la brioche." This doesn't mean "let them eat cake," it means "let them eat egg based bread". Brioche, egg based bread, was a more expensive bread than the typical flour and water bread of the French peasants. A French law required bakers to sell their brioche at the same price as their inexpensive bread if they ran out. What has been translated as "let them eat cake" actually meant, "if they have no inexpensive bread, let them eat the more expensive brioche.

In the late 18th century, much of the French population was living in desperate poverty, while the upper classes were living a life of decadence. As a result, dissatisfaction quickly spread throughout the city of Paris. Why should people go hungry when the King and Queen had enough to feed everyone? Why should people live in abject poverty, when those inside the palace had more than they could possibly consume in a thousand lifetimes? Why should people be content with poverty when there were people who lived a life of luxury on the back of their tax dollars?

In 18th century France, the contrasts between the palace and the streets were so strong that it led to widespread anger. The people knew from experience that the current government was not a solution to their problems. In fact, the royal family seemed to be making life harder with each passing day.  The person who drew the most criticism was Marie Antoinette, whose foreign birth and extravagant lifestyle made her an easy target for public anger.  It was easy to fabricate stories about the queen's spendthrift habits. Very likely, someone attributed the words to her, and the story seemed true enough.  

Here in the 21st century we still see these same feelings.  Frustrated people through the centuries have felt there has got to be better government.  Is there any hope for something better, or do we just have to learn to live with imperfect human government?

There is something in the human heart that longs for honest government. Maybe if we just had new leadership things would be better.  There is a longing for a system we can trust. 

The good news is that there is something better.  There really is a kingdom coming that is entirely free from corruption.  We can't expect honest human government, but God gives us this promise in the Bible, "During the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed or given to another group of people. This kingdom will crush all the other kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will continue forever". Daniel 2:44

Jesus said in John 18:36, “My kingdom does not belong to this world".  "God's blessings, which cannot be destroyed or be spoiled or lose their beauty, are kept in heaven for you".  1 Peter 1:4

"So let us be thankful, because we have a kingdom that cannot be shaken. We should worship God in a way that pleases him with reverence and respect".  Hebrews 12:28

I'm ready for a change in government.   I'm ready for a kingdom that can't be shaken.  

He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I come quickly.” Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.  Revelation 22:20

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Old Washington

Washington, Arkansas is a peaceful tree-shaded town and one of the most amazing historic places in Arkansas. The old town still looks like the 19th century with plank board sidewalks and streets that have never been paved.   Most of the town is now a part of Historic Washington State Park.  It is commonly referred to as Old Washington.

In the State Park there are over thirty restored historic structures including classic examples of Southern Greek Revival and Federal architecture, Gothic Revival, Italianate, and the oldest building built of hand-hewn timber.

From its establishment in 1826, Washington was an important stop on the rugged Southwest Trail for pioneers traveling to Texas. Frontiersmen James Bowie, Sam Houston and Davy Crockett all traveled through Washington on their way to the Alamo. Houston planned parts of the revolt strategy in a tavern in Washington during 1834.  James Black, a local blacksmith, is credited with creating the legendary Bowie knife carried by Jim Bowie at his blacksmith shop in Washington.

At the State Park they often have blacksmith demonstrations.  My wife enjoys watching blacksmiths at work. Her Grandpa was born in 1855 and was a blacksmith by trade in Stratton, Colorado. Her Dad said that when he was a boy, you could hear his anvil ringing all over town. When it quit ringing you better get home. It was time for supper.

Washington's history during the Civil War is fascinating.   Following the capture of Little Rock by the Union Army in 1863, the Confederate government moved the state government offices to Hot Springs for short time, then moved the state government to Washington, making it the Capital of Confederate Arkansas from 1863-1865. 

When the railroad was built that connected much of the state with Little Rock, it was eight miles from Washington.  Because it was no longer on the main travel route, Washington began a slow decline. The decline caused by most of the business moving to Hope, Arkansas, which was on the railroad, was the reason that Washington seems to stand still and lets modern visitors go back in time.

The ABC Wednesday Meme is a fun way to see some great blogs.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Criticize or Encourage?

As we go through life, one of the constants seems to be criticism.  I'm sure that everyone has been the recipient of criticism and has more than likely been critical of others.  Criticism is not an effective way of solving problems.  What methods should we use in place of criticism? How about trying affirmation. During the Wednesday night prayer meeting at my church, we have been studying 1 Thessalonians. We have seen that even when Paul was addressing problems he included plenty of affirmation. It's been shown that, in order to neutralize the emotional impact of criticism, one must affirm five times.

Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 5:11, "so encourage each other and give each other strength, just as you are doing now". Are you encouraging those around you or are you criticizing?  Elizabeth Harrison, a pioneer in early childhood education in America stated, "Those who are lifting the world upward and onward are those who encourage more than criticize".

When I was in grade school I often heard the retort, "sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me". That statement is not true. In fact, words may not break our bones, but they certainly can damage our spirits. In Proverbs 12:18 the Bible tells us, "sharp words can wound as deeply as any sword, but wisely spoken words can heal".

When we speak words of criticism we are not following God's plan. Ephesians 4:29 says, "do not use harmful words, but only helpful words, the kind that build up and provide what is needed, so that what you say will do good to those who hear you". If we want to help someone we need to encourage them, not criticize them. I need to ask myself, "Am I encouraging others"?  God's Word certainly tells us to do so.

When we encourage and help others, we are showing God’s love. I encourage you to try it. Show someone how much you value them for who they are. Encouragement can drastically change a person’s life! I recently ran across a story written by Kathy Schultz. She said that, "pink is my granddaughter's favorite color. She had been telling me this since she first discovered colors. The other night as she chatted away, she added that yellow was another one of her favorite colors."

Kathy went on to explain why her granddaughter had added yellow as a favorite color. She said that when she asked about the new favorite color, her granddaughter began by telling her that when she went to music class, Mrs. Cooke, the music teacher told her she was a bright yellow crayon, bright as the sun.

Kathy wrote, "this is a wonderful description of my grandchild! The teacher was right. She is a bubbly, cheerful, child. Truly, she is a bright ray of sunshine." She concluded by saying, "words have such power. A small statement made by her teacher had truly inspired my granddaughter. It made her even list yellow as her favorite color. I doubt she will ever forget the teacher's kind remarks. This made me think of the words I say. Do I say kind, encouraging, inspiring words to others?"

The word ‘encouragement’ means to support. When we encourage we speak words that uphold someone to bring change for the better. By our words we need to let them know that we support their dreams, pursuits, and goals. We all tend to get discouraged from time to time and need encouragement.

Colossians 3:12 tells us, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” If we clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience we will be perfectly equipped to be an encouragement to others. We will not have a critical spirit.

To criticize or encourage, the choice is yours. I hope that your choice will be to encourage others. If you do, God will encourage you!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013


N is for New.  Today is the release date in the U.S. for the new Paul McCartney album, "New".  There has been a lot of hype about this new album, and as one reviewer put it, Paul has been here, there, and everywhere promoting it's release.  I am looking forward to hearing the new record.  I pre-ordered the album and hope it will be delivered today.

We are just a few months away from the 50 year anniversary of the Beatles debut in the U.S.  I have been listening to them since 1964 when my really cool older cousin Teresa succumbed to the early effects of Beatlemania.  When her family visited ours in 1964 we went to Red Rocks Amphitheater not long after The Beatles had played there.  She was so excited to be able to stand on the very stage where John, Paul, George and Ringo had stood not long before. The very first album I owned was Sgt. Peppers Lonely Heats Club Band.

I was able to see Paul live at Cowboys Stadium in 2009.  One day my daughter called asking me if I would like to go see Paul with her. I had to ask her to repeat herself because I wasn't sure what she had said. I though about it for a couple of seconds and said sure. We talked to my wife, my son and his fiance and they all wanted to go. I have passed on my love of "classical" music to my children.  You can read about my experience at the concert here.

Paul has released the title track from the new album on You Tube, so I have been able to hear it.  I love it and it makes me want to hear the rest of the album.  Here is the official you tube release of "New".

Here is a fun acoustic version of the song with his band.

If the new album, "New" isn't in the mail today I am going to be disappointed.  I'm going to go check the mailbox now.

The ABC Wednesday Meme is a fun way to see some great blogs.

Friday, October 11, 2013


Over the past several months I have enjoyed attending several reunions.  In July I went to Tennessee for my aunt’s 85th birthday celebration.  Then in August I was able to attend my cousin’s 50th wedding anniversary.  He was the best man at my wedding.  I had a great time with relatives I seldom see.

Two weeks ago, my wife and I attended our 40th High School reunion. We both attended Campion Academy in Loveland, Colorado and graduated in 1973.  It had been 30 years since we had seen most of our classmates - we attended our ten year reunion.  As we pulled onto the campus of Campion Academy we were a bit nervous.  What would our old classmates be like?  Would we have anything in common? Would we recognize them?  Would they recognize us?

As I parked the car and walked up to the registration table my apprehension was confirmed as I couldn't place the first person who spoke to me.  But within just a few minutes all uneasiness melted away as old friends greeted us.  I was amazed as classmates bridged the forty years like it was no time at all.

While we were there, I looked up an old friend I hadn't seen in years. When I lived in Campion, he lived just a block away. He was a great friend and we spent a lot of time together. It was nice to be able to be together again like old times even if it was only for an hour or so. We reminisced about many things including our “muscle” cars; his six cylinder Ford Falcon and my Nash Metropolitan.

As we were leaving his place, he turned to me and said, “I need to apologize to you.  I was out of line”.  I wasn't sure what he was talking about.  It had been over 35 years since we had visited with each other.  I told him that even the best of friends disagree sometimes and all was forgiven.  I really had no recollection of a serious disagreement between us, but something had been eating at him for years.

I had forgiven him years ago and couldn't even remember what the disagreement was about.  It reminded me of the verses in Micah 7:18,19.  “Who is a God like You, Pardoning iniquity and passing over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage?  He does not retain His anger forever, Because He delights in mercy.  He will again have compassion on us, and will subdue our iniquities. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea”.

God want to forgive us.  He longs to forgive us.  He wants to reconcile with us.

In Romans 5:10,11 the Bible tells us,  “For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation”.

Some versions use the phrase “restored our relationship” or “made us his friends” in place of reconciled.  God wants us to be his friends; he wants to restore our relationship.  He wants a reunion.

Just like I was a bit apprehensive before my high school reunion, sometimes we are apprehensive about a reunion with Jesus.  We know that we aren't worthy.

In Luke 15, Jesus tells the story of a man who has two sons. The younger son asks his father to give him an early inheritance. Once received, the son goes to a distant land and begins to waste his fortune on wild living. When the money runs out, the son finds himself in dire circumstances. He takes a job feeding pigs. He is so destitute that he even longs to eat the food the pigs eat.

The young man finally decides to return to his father and ask for forgiveness and mercy.  Realizing he is not worthy to be a part of the family he hatches a plan to ask to be a servant in his father’s house.

Let’s pick up the story in Luke 15:20, “And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.”

The son was focusing on how unworthy he was – and with good reason.  But all the father could think of was the reunion and how happy he was to have his son back.

Luke 15:22-24 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ And they began to be merry”.

God wants a reunion, he wants reconciliation, and he wants to restore his relationship with you.  He wants to be your friend, but you have to come to the Father.  Don’t miss the reunion!