Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thank God For Grace

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; thanksgiving.

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 glory!

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 save you. 

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 abundant".

Tuesday, November 26, 2013


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.

Tiny VW

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.

Eureka Bikes

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

School Transportation

Belize Boat

Triple J Water Taxi

Busy Street

Housewares For Sale


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

First Class Gina

What types of transportation do you use?

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

Sunday, November 24, 2013

From Water Leaks to Barred Owls

This morning I made a quick trip to the store to buy fixins for breakfast burritos. When I got back home and started to set the grocery sacks on the kitchen table I noticed that it was very wet. I looked up and saw that the water was coming from the ceiling. The water pipes for the upstairs run between the upstairs floor joists. What a way to start the day.

After such a unsettling start to the day, we decided to take a drive. We drove up the Talimena Drive to Queen Wilhelmina State Park on Rich Mountain.  As we drove up the mountain we saw that the trees were iced over at the higher elevations.  The ice made the scenery even more beautiful than usual.

We turned off of Talimena Drive onto Polk County Road 100, a rough dirt road that goes down the back side of Rich Mountain and connects with Highway 8.  Polk County Road 100 is a seldom traveled road through uninhabited land.

As we were slowly making our way down the road , my wife pointed out an owl .  We watched as the owl landed on a dead tree.  I drove the car carefully until we were right beside the tree.  The owl's head was turned away from us.  My wife called to the owl and I snapped the photo just as he turned his head.

Getting to see and photograph a Barred Owl today made me forget for awhile the problems that I had to face back home. It was a very special moment.

P.S.  The plumber is supposed to be here in the morning.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013


Practice Safe Lunch

S is for Signs. Whenever I have my camera with me I like to take pictures of unusual signs. This one taken in San Pedro Belize has to be one of my all time favorites. No we didn't eat there.


It seems like the maintenance men at King's Casino in Louisiana would have noticed that some maintenance was needed. It's a sin.

It's A Sin

Just because there is a restaurant and a motel on the same premises doesn't mean that they should share the sign. We were hungry, but not that hungry.

A Little To Expensive

Lake Leatherwood, near Eureka Springs, Arkansas, is formed by one of the largest hand-cut native limestone dams in the country. The dam and several structures at the park were built in the early 1940s by the WPA. This sign on the lake appears to have been built in the 40's but I'm not quite sure why it was needed.

Good To Know

Here is a music video made from my pictures of signs. One of my favorite songs from the 70's is "Signs" by "The Five Man Electrical Band". It seemed like an appropriate song for this post. Take a look.

I took all of the sign photos in this post and in the video except this one that I found on the internet this morning.  Since I was posting about signs, I just had to add this one more.

Always make sure and read the fine print!

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

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Oklahoma National Memorial

This evening we visited the Oklahoma National Memorial in Oklahoma City. The memorial honors the 168 victims of the 1995 bombing of the Murrah building.  It was a very moving experience. 

Thursday, November 14, 2013


Recently while I was looking around an antique store, I came across this postcard.  I don't collect postcards, but there was something about this one that interested me.  The first thing was the subject matter.  The scene, Dam on the Ouachita River in Hot Springs, Arkansas, no longer exists because of the Blakely Mountain Dam that was built by the United States Army Corps of Engineers in the early 50's to create Lake Ouachita.  I'm not sure of the date of the postcard, but it has to be before 1952 because it could be mailed for one cent.  Although the subject matter and age were interesting, what really grabbed my attention was the correspondence on the back.

It says, "Well I am still alive yet of course you know it is pretty hard to kill me.  How are crops out there.  I tell you if you come down in Arkansas and look at the land I bet you get back on the first train.  My I never seen such land.  I wouldn't stay down in Arkansas if they would deed me the whole state."  It just tickled my funny bone.  Never has a person been so unimpressed with Arkansas.  I'm quite certain that the writer of the postcard didn't settle in Arkansas.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013


R is for Resolutions.  My favorite cartoon when I was a kid was Peanuts. I remember one comic strip in particular. It is January 1st, and Charlie Brown tells anyone who will listen, “The best way to keep New Year’s Resolutions is in a sealed envelope in a bottom desk drawer.

Charlie Brown knew what every person who has ever made a resolution knows. Making and keeping resolutions is a troublesome business, usually filled with failure and shame.

How have your past resolutions worked out for you? I don't even want to talk about mine. If you have often made and broken resolutions, you may feel that you might as well seal them in a bottom desk drawer and forget them. That is the experience I have had.

If you ask the average person about the resolutions they made, they will tell you that they are going to cut down on their eating, they are going to exercise more, stop doing unhealthy things, and start doing healthy things, etc.

While these things are good, they all focus on self and rely on self. These kinds of things are in fact self-serving and look to the power of one’s self to accomplish them. Self-improvement for most people means making themselves more attractive, healthier and happier. They depend on the power of the human will to bring about the changes.

Look at how different our typical resolutions are from the words of Paul in Colossians 3:12-14. “God has chosen you and made you his holy people. He loves you. So always do these things: Show mercy to others, be kind, humble, gentle, and patient. Get along with each other, and forgive each other. If someone does wrong to you, forgive that person because the Lord forgave you. Do all these things; but most important, love each other. Love is what holds you all together in perfect unity."

Notice how Paul’s words are focused on others. If we are to use resolutions wisely, we need to turn our attention away from ourselves and toward others. We need to get the focus off of ourselves, and on to God and the strength that comes only from him. What kind of resolutions should we make?

John was called the disciple that Jesus loved. It appears that Jesus had a best friend. I want my resolution to be the words that the best friend of Jesus wrote in 1 John 4:7,8 “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love”.

I don’t know of a better resolution that you could make. If we would all make the resolution to love one another imagine how different the world would be.

My wife's cousin, Jerry Patton, spent 37 years as the second tenor of The King's Heralds Quartet, the oldest continuous gospel quartet in America.

One of my favorite songs that he sang was titled One Little Candle. The lyrics are great.

It's better to light just one little candle
Than to stumble in the dark
Better far that you light just one little candle
All you need's a tiny spark

If we'd all say a prayer that the world would be free
The wonderful dawn of the new day we'll see
And if everyone lit just one little candle
What a bright world this would be

If each day each one of us would resolve to love one another there would be less division, hate, suffering and sorrow.

P.S. Check out Restore A Child.  They  believe that every child is a precious gift to the world and that all children deserve the chance to flourish physically and mentally. Restore A Child helps to provide children in desperate need with the basic essentials necessary for them to live healthy, fulfilled lives.

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