G is for Geocaching. If you are not familiar with Geocaching, It is a modern day treasure hunt powered by a GPS. Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the geocache (container) hidden at that location.
Geocaching got its start in May 2000 when the U.S. government allowed greater GPS accuracy. Tens of thousands of GPS receivers around the world had an instant upgrade.
For GPS enthusiasts, this was definitely a cause for celebration. Internet newsgroups were filled with ideas about how the technology could be used.
Dave Ulmer, a computer consultant, wanted to test the accuracy by hiding a navigational target in the woods. The idea was simple: Hide a container out in the woods and note the coordinates with a GPS unit. The finder would then have to locate the container with only the use of his or her GPS receiver.
On May 3rd he placed his own container, a black bucket, in the woods near Beavercreek, Oregon, near Portland. He shared the waypoint of his "stash" with the online community on sci.geo.satellite-nav.
Within three days, two different readers read about his stash on the Internet, used their own GPS receivers to find the container, and shared their experiences online. Throughout the next week, others excited by the prospect of hiding and finding stashes began hiding their own containers and posting coordinates.
Geocaching.com began operating on September 2, 2000. With a worldwide membership the website claims millions of caches and members in over 200 countries.
I have been geocaching since 2004. One of my favorite things about the sport is that it gets you to go places and discover things that you wouldn't otherwise.
On of my most memorable experiences was while geocaching in Tyler, Texas. I had found the geocache that I was searching for, and was finding my way back to my car when I got a bit lost. I had forgotten to put the coordinates of my cars location in the GPS, so I was just trying to remember my way back through the woods. I came into a brushy clearing and was trying to decide which way to go. There was an area that looked a bit wet and muddy, so I stepped carefully across it to avoid getting my shoes dirty. Imagine my surprise when the "solid" ground gave way, and I sank up to my armpits in stinky mucky quicksand. At first I was just angry that I was filthy, but then I started trying to get out and realized that I was in a serious predicament. Fortunately I was able to reach a small shrub than was strong enough for me to pull myself out.
I was now on the opposite side of the quicksand from where I needed to be and was trying to decide how to proceed. I layed out spread eagle and "swam" to the other side. It wasn't until I thought back on the experience as I was driving back to the condo that it dawned on me how much trouble I had actually been in. I was by myself, and my wife had no idea where I was. I never saw another person while I was out in the woods.
This is what I looked like after I got out.
If you have never tried geocaching I can recommend that you check it out. Wherever you live, I'm sure that there are some caches in your area. Just go to Geocaching.com and enter your location to see what is in your area. I use the geocaching app for iPhone and since I always have my phone with me I can quickly look for caches anywhere I am at. This weekend I found a number of caches in Conroe, Texas where I was visiting my son. Geocaching is a great family activity; give it a try.
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This is my article as published in the February 20, 2014 issue of The Mena Star.
What is your comfort zone? Do you like to be comfortable? I know that I sure do. Last year my leg started to really hurt. It was very uncomfortable. After several months of pain I finally went to see the doctor. After doing x-rays and other tests, he informed me that I have arthritis. The only treatment is medication to relieve the pain. I was happy that there wasn't a more serious problem, but a bit disheartened that this problem would never go away.
Going to the doctor got me to thinking about how disease parallels our human nature. We are sick spiritually, and God wants to heal us so we won't be sick with sin. The Bible tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:17 that "anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!" We have all heard the term “Born Again” to describe the new life. It is probably one of the most common phrases in the Christian vocabulary. What is a "Born Again" Christian?
In 1 Peter 1:23, the Bible tells us, "you have been born again. This new life did not come from something that dies, but from something that cannot die. You were born again through God’s living message that continues forever". To be "Born Again" means to have a new life.
There is a law of life that states, "everything that is new eventually becomes old". That law has been painfully brought to my attention over the last couple of weeks as I have been going through lots of old pictures. I recently read an appropriate quote, "youth is a disease from which we all recover". I am recovering nicely, thank you very much.
The next time you are in a big parking lot such as at the mall or at Wal-Mart take a look at the cars. There are some nice new cars. There are some that are in need of some body work. There are a number of old work vehicles. Here in rural Arkansas, there are lots of beat up pick up trucks in the Wal-Mart parking lot. Every car in the parking lot was once a new car. My Daddy has lots of antique cars. They all have something in common. Whether they are nicely restored or are nothing but a rusted out hulk, they were all once new.
DADDY'S 1940 BUICK LIMITED
What happens when the new wears off of our "Born Again" experience? What happens when our new life isn't so new anymore? We get in a rut. When we are in a rut, and are just going through the motions, don’t you think God notices?
All of us have a comfort zone in our life. To get out of the rut, we have to move outside of our comfort zone.
How do we get outside of our comfort zone? Here is a list of ideas that I came up with. Everything on the list may not be for you, but maybe it will help you get some ideas how to get out of your comfort zone, and get out of the rut. Maybe they will help your new life to actually be new again.
1. Expand your circle of friends
2. Study a subject you haven’t studied
3. Examine your core beliefs
4. Listen more and talk less
5. Try doing something that you have been afraid to do
6. Eat between meals - spiritually - don’t let religion be rote
7. Make your own list
8. Don’t be afraid of other religious viewpoints – truth withstands
9. Don't worry about what other Christians are doing
10. Hug somebody
11. Go on a mission trip
12. Don’t be afraid to express yourself
13. Be very gentle when you express yourself
14. Tell people you love them
15. Loosen up, don’t be rigid
16. Affirm a leader
17. Smile, be happy
18. Read a version of the Bible you haven’t read before
19. Visit another country or culture
20. Change the order you do things
21. Help somebody who isn't expecting it
22. Don’t be afraid of change – it isn't inherently evil
23. Call someone you haven’t called for a long time
24. If someone invites you to their church--- GO
25. Learn a new song. Buy a new CD
26. Be more gracious
27. Visit someone you have never visited before
28. Read a Christian book you haven’t read before
29. Take time to do something you really enjoy
30. Give a totally unexpected gift to someone
31. Ask for other peoples opinions
32. Volunteer to tell the children's story
33. Pray instead of being critical
34. Let go of resentment
35. Shake up your prayer life. Pray at different times or ways
36. Say thank you more often
37. If you see your devotions are in a rut shake them up
38. Sit somewhere different in church
39. Intentionally use different phrases when you pray
40. Never forget what Jesus has done for you
Let’s resolve to get out of our comfort zone. Ask God every day for a new life.
F is for Flautist; Or is it F is for Flutist? The choice of "flautist" versus "flutist" is the source of vicious dispute among players of the instrument. "Flutist" is the earlier term in the English language, dating from at least 1603, while "flautist" is not recorded before 1860.
The first edition of the Oxford English Dictionary lists fluter as dating from circa 1400 and Fowler's Modern English Usage states that "there seems no good reason" why flautist should have prevailed over fluter or flutist. However, according to Webster's Dictionary of English Usage, flautist is the preferred term in British English, and while both terms are used in American English, flutist is "by far the more common choice."
James Galway summed up the way he feels about "flautist," saying, "I am a flute player not a flautist. I don't have a flaut and I've never flauted."
I've never seen James Galway though I have a number of his CD's. Even though I have never seen James Galway perform, I have had the privilege of hearing top quality flute music. A few years ago we had a concert at our church by Philip Kim and Katherine Lin. Philip and his family attended our church a number of years ago. I hadn't seen him for some time. When he was a little boy he idolized my daughter and would follow her around wherever she would go. Philip spent a few month living in Mena after he graduated from college. While he was here he put on a concert. It was amazing to have such quality classical music in our little church.
I asked Philip and Katherine if they would let me film them playing, and they graciously agreed. If you enjoy quality classical music be sure to check out these videos.
I'm sure that you will agree that Philip is an accomplished flutist. Or is he an accomplished flautist?
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I love history and learning. Many things we learn about history are a bit uncertain, but it is always a little frustrating when you can't find out with any certainty the history of someone or something. The origin of St. Valentine and Valentine's Day is one of those topics.
Who was Saint Valentine? According to the website Catholics Online, The origin of St. Valentine, and how many St. Valentines there were, remains a mystery. One opinion is that he was a Roman martyred for refusing to give up his Christian faith. Other historians hold that St. Valentine was a temple priest jailed for defiance during the reign of Claudius. Whoever he was, Valentine really existed because archaeologists have unearthed a Roman catacomb and an ancient church dedicated to Saint Valentine. In 496 AD Pope Gelasius marked February 14th as a celebration in honor of his martyrdom.
It is unclear how the modern idea of celebrating Valentine's Day by giving gifts to your romantic partner started and evolved into the commercialized holiday that it is today. According to market research, Valentine's Day sales reached $17.6 billion last year; this year's sales are expected to total $18.6 billion.
The first time Valentine's Day is associated with romantic love is in the poem titled Parlement of Foules, written in 1382 by Geoffrey Chaucer. Chaucer wrote: "For this was on St. Valentine's Day, when every bird comes there to choose his mate." This poem was written to honor the first anniversary of the engagement of King Richard II of England to Anne of Bohemia. When they were married they were each only 15 years old.
Valentine's Day is mentioned by William Shakespeare in the play, Hamlet:
To-morrow is Saint Valentine's day,
All in the morning betime,
And I a maid at your window,
To be your Valentine.
It became very popular for young men to write verses of poetry on a card and give them to their lovers. As early as 1800, companies began mass-producing cards for those who had poor poetry skills. In the United States, the first mass-produced valentines of embossed paper lace were produced in 1847. The U.S. Greeting Card Association says that 190 million valentines are sent each year in the US. When you include the valentine cards exchanged by school children, the figure goes up to 1 billion.
This is My Valentine!
The best decision I have ever made was to marry the girl who stole my heart when she walked into Mr Brost's History class the beginning of my senior year of high school. I was too shy to talk to girls, so it was almost a year before she had any idea that I was interested. I think that the good Lord knew that I needed all of the help I could get so he made it so that our paths crossed in a number of ways that year. Mr. Brost selected five students to work together each week producing learning packets for History class. Gina and I were both in the group. We both worked at the Harris Pine furniture factory. I worked on the dresser jig, and she made drawers. I would spend my breaks back with the drawer makers, but she still didn't catch on.
It came time for our High School graduation and I still had never gotten up the nerve to ask her out. Finally I mustered up every ounce of courage I could find and asked her if she would march with me when we graduated. She told me that she would like to but she had already told Russell she would march with him. If I would talk to Russell she would march with me. Once again summoning up every bit of courage I had I talked to Russell. He was very gracious and bowed out. I was on cloud nine.
The rest is history. After a year of a long distance relationship, five hundred miles, we were finally in the same place at the same time. I knew that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with this girl. On June 15, 1975 we were married in the Denver First Seventh-day Adventist Church. The last 38 years have been an interesting and very fulfilling time.
I know that high school romances are not supposed to be forever and that when kids get married when they are in their teens the marriages aren't supposed to last, but we have proven those things wrong. It is still awesome to go through each day with my best friend, My Valentine! I can't wait to see where this journey leads.
Here is an awesome song written by my friend Paul to My Valentine.
E is for epilepsy. Epilepsy affects over 50 million people worldwide. That's more than multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy and Parkinson's disease combined.
When I was a boy I suffered from a mild form of epilepsy. I had episodes called petit mals. A petit mal seizure is the term commonly given to a staring spell, most commonly called an "absence seizure." It is a brief (usually less than 15 seconds) disturbance of brain function due to abnormal electrical activity in the brain. I had no idea that other people did not experience them. I could feel them coming on and knew to sit down or hold on to something for a few seconds.
MY SCHOOL PHOTO CIRCA 1967
The first time that my Mother witnessed one of my petit mals she was very scared. I guess that my eyes rolled back in my head. I knew that for those few seconds that I could not see, but did not know that my eyes rolled back. I didn't think that it was a big deal, but my Mom said I had to see the doctor as soon as possible. The doctors were able to control the petit mals with medication, and told me that I would most likely outgrow them by the time I was 20. Fortunately I did, and was taken off of the medication by the time I was 18 or 19.
Epilepsy is a medical condition that produces seizures affecting a variety of mental and physical functions. It’s also called a seizure disorder. When a person has two or more unprovoked seizures, they are considered to have epilepsy.
A seizure happens when a brief, strong surge of electrical activity affects part or all of the brain. One in 10 adults will have a seizure sometime during their life.
Seizures can last from a few seconds to a few minutes. They can have many symptoms, from convulsions and loss of consciousness to some that are not always recognized as seizures by the person experiencing them or by health care professionals: blank staring, lip smacking, or jerking movements of arms and legs.
Please take the time to learn more about this condition that affects over 50 million people worldwide. Based on recent surveys, The Center For Disease Control estimates that nearly 2.5 million people in the United States have epilepsy, with 150,000 developing the condition each year.
One way to get involved is to participate in Purple Day. Purple Day was started in 2008, by nine-year-old Cassidy Megan of Nova Scotia, Canada. It is an international grassroots effort dedicated to increasing awareness about epilepsy worldwide. On March 26, people from around the globe are asked to wear purple and spread the word about epilepsy. You can learn more about Purple Day by going here.
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D is for Danger. There are many dangerous machines, but wood chippers ore some of the most dangerous.
Although it is definitely not the kind of thing that I normally do at my business, some time ago I painted a Bandit Wood Chipper. Wood chippers have powerful feed systems with large chipper openings that allow you to break down limbs and branches. One of the things that had to be done was the removal of all of the decals and stickers before painting. So that we would know where to put the new decals when we finished painting, I took pictures of all the decals and locations for reference.
Wood chippers are very dangerous machines. I have never used one, but after reading all of the warning decals I have new found respect for the dangers involved.
This one reads DANGER! STOP TO THINK!! Reaching or kicking into the infeed spout can cause serious injury or death! DO NOT reach with your hand or kick with your foot inside the feed spout. The feedrolls are very powerful. Once your hand or foot is grabbed by the feedrolls, you can be pulled into the chipper. Do not think you will be able to pull yourself out of the feedrolls. They will not let go!
This one reads DANGER! SEVERE INJURY OR DEATH CAN OCCUR! UNLESS THESE INSTRUCTIONS ARE FOLLOWED.
Do you think Bandit Industries Inc. is serious about their warning? Are they plain enough for you to understand? The wood chipper I was working on was literally covered with these warnings. I took 30 pictures of warning labels. The manufacturer wants to make sure that you understand the dangers of working with this machine.
This one is very serious. BRUSH CHIPPERS ARE VERY DANGEROUS MACHINES TO OPERATE! READ AND BELIEVE THIS WARNING DECAL!
One line on this warning decal reads "There have been MANY ACCIDENTS involving the feed rolls, resulting in the amputation of hands, arms, feet, legs and DEATH. DO NOT let this happen to you!
All of these warnings made me think of the Bible, and all of the directions and warnings that God has placed in it.
In Jeremiah 6:10 the Bible says, "Who will listen to me? The people of Israel have closed ears, so they cannot hear my warnings. They don't like the word of the LORD; they don't want to listen to it!"
Why is it that we don't want to listen to the word of the Lord? When I read the warnings on a piece of machinery I take them seriously, but if I read it in the Bible I don't want to listen.
In Romans 6:23 there is a clear warning. As clear as the warning decals on a wood chipper. It says "The wages of sin is death". That is clear. Thankfully the verse doesn't end there. It also says "But the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord".
The warnings on the wood chipper were not placed there because Bandit Industries Inc. doesn't want you to have any fun. They were not placed there just to restrict the user. They were placed there for the benefit of the user.
God's commandments are like the warnings on the wood chipper. They are not to restrict us, they are for our benefit.
Many times we look at God's law as a jail. We feel that it creates uncomfortable restrictions. We need to ask God to give us a love for his commandments, to instill in us a desire for the peace and safety of His law.
1 John 5:3 tells us "For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome".
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Fifty years ago today, February 9, 1964, The Beatles appeared live on American television for the first time on the Ed Sullivan Show. 73 million people tuned in that evening making it one of the most memorable moments in television history. Fifty years later, people still remember exactly where they were the night The Beatles stepped onto Ed Sullivan’s stage.
Over the next few years Beatlemania swept the world as John, Paul, George and Ringo became as famous an anyone on the planet.
In the summer of 1967 the first live, international, satellite television production was broadcast. The program was titled Our World, and nineteen different nations were invited to perform or appear in separate segments featuring their respective countries. The two-and-half-hour event had the largest television audience ever up to that date: an estimated 400 million people around the globe watched the broadcast.
The BBC had commissioned The Beatles to write a song for the United Kingdom's contribution. The Beatles were asked to come up with a song containing a simple message to be understood by all nationalities.
The song they wrote for the program was titled “All You Need Is Love”. The song was an immediate hit and became a catch phrase. The summer of 1967 became known as the Summer of Love, and the song All You Need Is Love was the anthem.
Is there any truth to the catch phrase “all you need is love”? I believe that it is the truth. All You Need Is Love – Love is all you need.
In 1 John 4:7-10 the Bible tells us, "Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is born of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God—for God is love. God showed how much he loved us by sending his only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love. It is not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins".
Love should be the basis for everything we do. In Matthew 22, Jesus was asked, what is the greatest commandment in the law? Jesus answered, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”
All of the Law and the Prophets – The entire Bible are summed up in these words. "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. You shall love your neighbor as yourself." When you distill it down that much it seems so simple. It really is true – All You Need Is Love.
In the love letter God wrote to you called the Bible it says, “I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor anything above, nor anything below, nor anything else in all creation can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord”. Romans 8:38,39
How would you feel if you if you wrote these beautiful words to the love of your life and they were ignored. God says to us, there is nothing that can separate you from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. We will never know all the ways he shows his love to us. We so often completely miss the wonderful revelations of his love for us as we go about our daily lives.
God's Word is His love letter to us. The love of Jesus waits in each page! Don’t leave your love letters unopened and unread. God loves you and he wants to tell you just how much. Open his love letter to you and listen to what he has to say to you.
The greatest love poem found in the Bible is in John 3:16,17. “ For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved”.
What beautiful words. We need to keep in mind that it is the world that God loves, not a single nation, not a single race. Not just the “good” people, not just the people who love God back. “God so loved the world.” This includes the lovable and the unlovable; those who are popular, and those who have no one else to love them; the ones who love God, and the ones who never think of God.
Reading God’s love letter to you is the only way you can learn to love others. In the Bible we have the example of Jesus. As Christians we are to follow in his footsteps. There is a popular Christian song titled, "The Proof of Your Love". The lyrics to the chorus are: "Let my life be the proof, The proof of Your love. Let my love look like You and what You're made of. How You lived, how You died, Love is sacrifice. So let my life be the proof, The proof of Your love".
Is your life the proof of the love of Jesus? No matter what we do in our life if we don’t have love it is meaningless.
If I could speak in any language in heaven or on earth but didn't love others, I would only be making meaningless noise like a loud gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I knew all the mysteries of the future and knew everything about everything, but didn't love others, what good would I be?
If I had the gift of faith so that I could speak to a mountain and make it move, without love I would be no good to anybody. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn't love others, I would be of no value whatsoever.
Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged. It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
Love will last forever, but prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge will all disappear. Now we know only a little, and even the gift of prophecy reveals little! But when the end comes, these special gifts will all disappear.
It’s like this: When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child does. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. Now we see things imperfectly as in a poor mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God knows me now.
There are three things that will endure—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love. All You Need Is Love!
When I was in school I learned that the Pilgrims came to America aboard the Mayflower in search of religious freedom in 1620. The Puritans soon followed, for the same reason. Ever since the Pilgrims arrived millions from around the world have done the same, coming to an America where they found a place where everyone was free to practice his or her own faith.
Unfortunately this isn't true. The arrival of the Pilgrims and Puritans in New England in the early 1600's was a response to persecution they had experienced in England; But the leaders of the Massachusetts Bay Colony did not tolerate opposing religious views. Their colony was a dictatorship that allowed no dissent, religious or political.
Roger Williams and Anne Hutchinson were banished following disagreements over theology and policy. From Puritan Boston’s earliest days, Catholics were banned, along with other non-Puritans. Four Quakers were hanged in Boston between 1659 and 1661 for standing up for their beliefs.
Ministers like John Cotton preached that it was wrong to practice any religion other than Puritanism. Those who did would be helping the devil. They believed they followed the only true religion so everyone should be forced to worship as they did.
The Puritans did not understand the principle of religious liberty. The freedom which they sacrificed so much to secure for themselves, they were not equally ready to grant to others.
True religious freedom in America started with the vision of one man, Roger Williams. He was a trained minister in England and took holy orders in the Church of England. Because of his Puritan sympathies he had no chance of a job in the Anglican Church. In 1631 he traveled to the New World to be with other Puritans. In Massachusetts he was at odds with the authorities because of his belief that people should be free to follow their own convictions in religious matters.
In October 1635 he was tried by the General Court and convicted of sedition and heresy. He was then ordered to be banished. In the spring of 1636 Williams and a number of his followers from Salem began a settlement. He called it "Providence" because he felt that God's Providence had brought him there. He said that his settlement was to be a haven for those "distressed of conscience”.
Roger Williams believed that any effort by the state to dictate religion or promote any particular religious idea or practice was forced worship. He colorfully declared that, "Forced worship stinks in the nostrils of God”.
Most of Williams's contemporaries and critics regarded his ideas as a prescription for chaos and anarchy. The vast majority believed that each nation must have its national church, and that dissenters must be made to conform. Rhode Island was so threatening to its neighbors that they tried for the next hundred years to extinguish the "lively experiment" in religious freedom that began in 1636.
Are your feelings on religious liberty like those of Roger Williams, or are they more like the Puritans? The Puritans definitely believed in religious liberty. They just didn't believe in it for others. If you haven’t thought much about religious liberty – and we seldom do if our liberties aren't being taken from us – spend some time today thinking about it.
Do you really believe in religious liberty for those whom you disagree with? What about other Christian denominations with different practices? What about the Muslim, the Buddhist, the Hindu or the Wiccan. What about the agnostic or the atheist. Do you believe in religious liberty for them?
If you do believe in religious liberty for all, you will not make disparaging or hateful remarks about anyone. John Wesley said, “Condemn no man for not thinking as you think. Let everyone enjoy the full and free liberty of thinking for himself. Let every man use his own judgment, since every man must give an account of himself to God”.
It is a good thing to do what we can to stand up to those governments that are trampling on the liberties of Christians around the world, but will we be as vocal when the liberties of others religions are taken from them. If we truly believe in religious liberty we must be advocates for anyone whose liberties are threatened.
In the end it is all about the God we serve. The God I serve never forces the will or conscience. He so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 2 Peter 3:9 says , “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is long-suffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance”.
God wants all to come to repentance, but he only wants the willing. He will not force us to come to him. Free will to obey or disobey, love or hate, submit or rebel, is not only biblical but essential to man's relationship to God. He wants us to love, obey, serve, and worship Him and to do so by choice: "Choose you this day whom ye will serve”, Joshua 24:15. God isn't glorified in any obedience, worship, or love that doesn't come willingly from the heart.
If God so freely gives liberty – even to do what is wrong – we should be willing to give religious liberty to all.
One of my wife's favorite places to shop is Dress Barn. The first Dress Barn was opened in 1962 in Stamford, Connecticut. There are now over 800 locations in the U.S.
We live in a small town in rural Arkansas with limited shopping opportunities. When we do go shopping we make a day of it and travel to either Fort Smith or Hot Springs which are both over 80 miles away. When we make these shopping trips my wife likes to stop at Dress Barn. I enjoy not going in to the store and instead like to sit in the car in the parking lot.
One day while I was sitting in the parking lot, I took a photo of the Dress Barn Store and posted it to Facebook and said, I'm at my favorite place - The Dress Barn Parking Lot. I received many likes and comments. It became expected for me to comment on my favorite thing. Comments such as, "who needs the NFL playoff games when you have the Dress Barn parking lot" and "no place I would rather be than the Dress Barn parking lot.
Last fall we attended our 40th high school reunion. While we were visiting with old friends, they insisted that we go to the Dress Barn and take photos. We really didn't have time but we did it.
When we are travelling I make sure to stop by any Dress Barns that we come across. This year I have been to Dress Barn parking lots in Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, Colorado and Oregon. My dear wife puts up with my little obsession even though many of the Dress Barns we have stopped at she hasn't even been inside. During a recent visit to Oregon I stopped at three Dress Barns but she didn't shop at any of them.
While in Oregon we stayed at Glenedon Beach near Lincoln City. I had several Facebook friends point out that there was a Dress Barn in Lincoln City. I posted a beautiful sunrise photo and got the comment, "What, no Dress Barn in the proximity?!?!"
How many Dress Barn parking lots will I eventually visit? I don't know. With over 800 locations I will be kept busy for a long time.
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I was born in 1956 in Madison, Tennessee, while my parents were attending Madison College. I grew up along the Front Range in Colorado, attending schools in Longmont, Brighton, Boulder and Loveland, Colorado. Two years after graduating from Campion Academy, I married my sweetheart, Regina. We lived in Loveland, Colorado for six years before moving to Mena in western Arkansas.
I love the people of Mena and the friendly easy going way of life here. I have owned and operated my own business since moving to Mena. I enjoy the natural beauty of western Arkansas and being out of doors.
My newspaper column in The Mena Star, An Arkie’s Faith, premiered on January 7, 2016. In March 2017, I published my first book, titled The Little Things - Devotionals from a small town, using articles from the column. I published the second book in the Devotionals from a small town series, titled In the Fog, in December 2017.