Sunday, March 30, 2014


On March 19th, Fred Phelps, leader of the Westboro Baptist Church died. He was known as a preacher of hate.  His followers were known for their opposition to homosexuality and for picketing the funerals of soldiers.  They believe that God kills soldiers to punish a nation that tolerates homosexuality. They would picket soldiers funerals with signs that read, “God Hates Fags,” “God Hates You,” and “Thank God For Dead Soldiers.”

After Pastor Phelps death I did see some hateful comments and Facebook posts, but I saw something else that surprised me.  One prominent homosexual leader said, “I believe in showing love to my enemies and treating people with grace even when they don’t deserve it. I pray for [him] and his family just as I pray for those he harmed".

Another mentioned that instead of celebrating the death of Phelps, he recognized that Fred Phelps had a family who loved him and would be sadly missed by many people. And that even though there were strong disagreements with Phelps on many levels, there would be no gloating or rejoicing over his death.

Two days after Pastor Phelps died his followers picketed at 17-year-old singer Lorde’s show in Kansas.  Counter demonstrators unraveled a banner that said ‘sorry for your loss’ as a response to their ex-leader’s death.

In a blog post titled A Time for Tolerance, Pastor John Bradshaw addressed the passing of Pastor Phelps with these words.

"Some Christians—who by definition must subscribe to Jesus’ teachings regarding manifesting love towards others—find it impossible to love homosexuals, or to demonstrate toward them even a modicum of tolerance or kindness. I suspect some of this has to do with the Internet age: it is easy to be hateful when you might be geographically removed from the object of your scorn, and the expression of your vitriol is conducted via a computer keyboard. But many Christians—and I recognize that ‘many’ certainly does not equal ‘all’—treat homosexuality with a special type of hatred, and homosexuals as the worst of sinners.

There is little wonder that many people are turned off by Christianity when they witness “Christians” treating others with hatred and scorn. One prominent British personality has stated publicly that he could never be a Christian because Christians are so brutally unkind to those with whom they disagree.

I’m certainly not advocating or excusing homosexuality. As I read the Bible I see homosexuality as being contrary to the will of God. But so is dishonesty. So is pride. So is lying. And so is being hateful. In expressing hate towards gays, many “Christians” are guilty of a sin towards which God cannot—and will not—turn a blind eye.

As hard as it may be, God calls Christians—commands Christians—to love everyone.  And until we do, we are no better than those we criticize and condemn".

Pastor Daniel Darling states, "we must not allow our protest against values with which we disagree to overshadow our responsibility to show Christ's love for the world. It may very well be the person who offends us the most whom God is in the process of saving. And our gracious response might be the bridge that the Spirit uses to usher him from death to life".

Let’s follow the example of Jesus and love sinners and hate the sin in our own lives. John, the disciple that Jesus loved, tells us in 1 John 4:8 “He who does not love does not know God, for God is love”.

Saturday, March 29, 2014


One night a house caught fire and a young boy was forced to go to the roof. A fireman stood on the ground below with outstretched arms, calling to the boy, "Jump! I'll catch you." He knew the boy had to jump to save his life. All the boy could see was flame, smoke, and blackness.  He was afraid to leave the roof. The fireman kept yelling: "Jump! I will catch you." But the boy protested, “I can't see you." The fireman replied, "But I can see you and that's all that matters."

In life each one of us finds ourselves in the same situation as the young boy on the roof.  We will be destroyed unless we do something. If we stay in our current situation we will be destroyed by fire.  The biggest question in our lives is, what must I do to be saved.  In the little boy’s situation the answer was jump.  What is the answer in your life?

In Matthew 19 the Bible tells us that a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”  The first thing Jesus told him was keep the commandments.  The man said to Jesus, “All these things I have kept from my youth. What do I still lack?”  Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”

This man asked the all-important question – What must I do to be saved?  But notice how he asked the question.  The way he worded the question tells us a lot about him.  What good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?  I think that many of us can relate to this man. I’m leading a pretty good life.  What other good thing do I need to do to be saved?

The man wasn't expecting that kind of answer he got. He liked the “limited realm” of righteousness where people stop doing things. He was good at it.  He stepped back when Jesus pointed him to the “continuous realm” of righteousness where there is no limit and no end of really caring for other people.

Many of us are very uncomfortable with this whole concept of being a Christian as Jesus explained it. We tend to be Pharisees by nature. We are very happy with negative approaches to law because we like to know where the limits are.

We feel more comfortable when we can see the extent of our obligations. Jesus wants us to see that his true followers aren't trying to see what the limits of their obligations are.  He taught this lesson to Peter in Matthew 18. “Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?”

Rabbinical law said that you were to forgive three times.  Peter thought he was really expanding on that.   Jesus told him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven”.   Once again, Jesus points out that his true followers aren't trying to see what the limits of their obligations are.

In actuality Peter was not asking “How much can I love my neighbor?” but “When can I stop loving my neighbor?” That’s a very human question. I like that question. When can I stop loving my neighbor? That is where we are as natural people.

When can I stop all this niceness and give people what they deserve? I don’t like grace. Grace is giving people what they don’t deserve. I don’t mind getting it, but I don’t really like passing grace on to others.

Jesus taught Peter that there is never a time when he could stop loving his neighbor or stop passing on God’s grace. Jesus taught that there is no limit to Christian love.  Like Peter, we are much more comfortable with the negative than the positive approach to law. We want to know when we have fulfilled our quota of goodness so we can relax and be our normal selves.

How I treat my neighbor is the acid test of Christianity. Out of that principle comes a meaningful keeping of God’s laws.  Because I love my neighbor, I will not covet my neighbor’s car, house, wife, or husband. Because I love my neighbor, I cannot use him or her as a sexual object for my own pleasure.  Because I love my neighbor, I will not take things that belong to him. Because I love my neighbor, I will not kill or even hate him.

Love to God and neighbor is the centerpiece of Christianity.  “By this,” said Jesus, “all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Let’s go back to the story of the boy on the roof.   The fireman called to the boy, "Jump! I'll catch you." But the boy protested, “I can't see you." The fireman replied, "But I can see you and that's all that matters."

What must I do to be saved?  I need to trust Jesus so much that I will jump into his arms.  He can’t save me if I don’t trust him enough to jump.  He can’t save me if I am busy trying to save myself.

It’s time for us to really believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.  Believe enough to surrender our will and jump into his arms.  Will you jump with me today?

Thursday, March 27, 2014


This is my article as published in the March 27, 2014 issue of The Mena Star.

A few months ago my wife and I 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.

Monday, March 24, 2014


K is for Kindness.  Music has always been very important in my spiritual life. An uplifting song can be very meaningful. The message in a song can leave a lasting impression. One song that has left an impression on me is titled “Your Kindness”. I first heard the song in 1985 when it was written and recorded by Leslie Phillips. It is one of those songs that stays with me. The lyrics still speak to me.

Waiting for angry words to sear my soul.
Knowing I don't deserve another chance.
Suddenly the kindest words I've ever heard
come flooding through my heart.
It's your kindness that leads us
to repentance, Oh Lord.
Knowing that You love us
no matter what we do,
makes us want to love You too.

The idea for the song comes from a Bible verse that we can find in Romans 2:4, “Do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?”

What leads us to repentance? Is it anger? Is it fear? Is it God’s law? Is it your Pastor? No, the Bible says it is the kindness of God. Paul puts in another way in 2 Corinthians 7:10. “For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation.” I like the way God inspired Paul to put that. Not just sorrow, but godly sorrow.

I remember as a child being told to tell my sister that I was sorry. Did that make me sorry? Did it bring about repentance? No, it was more likely to make me plan my revenge. Being sorry seldom brings about change. We are usually just sorry we got caught. True godly sorrow brings about repentance, and true repentance brings about change.

What is it that brings us to Godly Sorrow? What causes us to be truly sorry for our sins, to bring us to repentance? It is when we realize how much God loves us and when we see the kindness that he has shown to us and to everyone.

Romans 11:22 shows us a little different viewpoint on God’s kindness. “Consider, then, the kindness and severity of God: his severity toward those who fell, but God’s kindness toward you—if you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you too will be cut off.” Paul here is talking about his Jewish countrymen who had not accepted Jesus as the Messiah. Because of their unbelief God had to cut them off, just as he will cut us off if we don’t accept Jesus as our Savior.

Knowing that God has a severe side along with his kindness brings us to an interesting question. Should the severity of God bring us to repentance? Should the fear of punishment be the catalyst that makes us repent? I think that our criminal justice system should make us realize that fear of punishment does not bring about repentance.

For many years I helped with the Pathfinder Club in my church. A couple of times a year we would take the kids camping. When you take kids camping, you can get into some very interesting discussions. On one trip I had a Pathfinder ask me a question. They wanted to know, why does God torture people in hellfire for all of eternity for bad things they do in just a few years of life? How do you answer such a question to some kids sitting around a campfire?

It's no wonder that so many people find it difficult to reconcile a God who is perfectly just with a punishment that is clearly unjust. Fortunately, the Bible is very clear on this teaching.

First, we must remember that God is love (1John 4:8). The Bible says as much as we love our children, God loves His even more. And you are His child!

Second, the Bible does indicate there is a hell. Jesus says there is (Matthew 10:28). But here is what Jesus says about hell in Matthew 13:40: “As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so shall it be in the end of this world.” What can we learn from this verse?

First, hell won't exist until “the end of this world.” Wouldn't that mean nobody today is burning in hell? Second, it says the tares (in this case, it means the wicked) are burned. It is a real place where the wicked will be burned.

But the Bible doesn't say hell will last forever. It teaches that hell destroys the wicked, once and for all. It makes it clear that hell is a place where the wicked perish in fire. They will burn up as “stubble” and will “become ashes” (Malachi 4:1, 3). Psalm 68:2 says, “as wax melts before the fire, so let the wicked perish at the presence of God.”

Even the most popular verse of the Bible supports this position. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” Notice that the wicked “perish.” They die. They cease to exist. Only the righteous have everlasting life.

The purpose of hell, according to the Bible, is to destroy sinners forever and create a universe without sin. That's going to be a great place to live, don't you think?

To read many other great blogs or to become part of the ABC Wednesday family click here.

Sunday, March 16, 2014


J is for Justice.  It seems like justice is hard to find.  Many high profile cases that are followed closely on television leave many people feeling like justice isn't served.  Cases like O. J. Simpson, George Zimmerman and Casey Anthony leave some people wondering; "where is the justice"?

During 2011 Americans were closely watching the murder trial of Casey Anthony.  She was on trial for the murder of her young daughter Caylee.  On July 5, 2011, the jury found Casey Anthony not guilty of counts one through three regarding first-degree murder, aggravated manslaughter of a child, and aggravated child abuse, while finding her guilty on counts four through seven for providing false information to law enforcement.

Many people were outraged by the verdict.  I remember reading Shawn Boonstra's comments concerning the Casey Anthony verdict. I was so in agreement with his thoughts as he expressed them that I adapted them for use here at An Arkie's Musings.

The most talked about news story of 2011 was that Casey Anthony was acquitted of killing her 2-year-old daughter Caylee in 2008. One thing is clear: someone is guilty. Little girls don’t end up duct-taped and garbage-bagged in the woods all by themselves. Collective public outrage has been building in the days since the “not guilty” verdicts left the American public speechless.

I struggled with the verdict myself. As a grandfather of young girls, my blood almost literally boils over when I hear about people mistreating them. And the fact that the most likely perpetrator was acquitted is hard to take. She just looked so guilty. Her stories didn't add up. In the hours since the verdict was read by a court clerk who appeared as visibly troubled as the rest of us, I have begun to consider the possibilities.

One possibility, I don’t want to admit. Twelve jurors might, maybe, somehow, be right. It’s possible that the rest of us have been drawn by the scent of blood into a public feeding frenzy. Like most people, I honestly don’t think so, but I have no choice but to admit that it’s a possibility.

The more comforting thought is that Someone knows every last detail of the case. The Bible reminds us that real justice will have to wait for the final judgement. The Bible tells us in Ecclesiastes 12:14 that we can rest in the knowledge that God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil.

I don’t like it, but the jury has spoken; the judge has agreed. I will make every effort to keep it from happening to someone else, and will guard my neighbor’s children like my own. I will also, to the best of my ability, share the only thing that can bring genuine hope in a cruelly twisted world – the redeeming, converting love of Jesus.

Someone is guilty of something: little girls don’t end up stashed in the woods by accident. If Caylee’s cruel death has stirred such emotion in our own sin-stained hearts, imagine the way it hurts the heart of Christ. I imagine myself to be incapable of such horrific sins, but I have caused my share of pain, for I am a sinner. I have never had to hide a body, but I am painfully aware that Jesus equates hatred with murder. By Jesus’ standards, I have murdered, stolen, failed to honor my parents, taken the Lord’s name in vain. So have you. More times that any of us would care to admit.

Now here’s what is really unfair. I am going to be acquitted. I’m going to be released from the wages of sin, (death), even though I certainly do not deserve it. My sins killed Jesus, but I won’t receive the ultimate wages of sin because Jesus was condemned for our sins, in which He had no part, that we might be justified by His righteousness, in which we had no part. He suffered the death which was ours, that we might receive the life which was His.

Now I’m not at all happy with the Casey Anthony verdict. It seems like somebody ought to pay for such a horrible atrocity. But I am also keenly aware that I myself am standing in heaven’s courtroom, with angels marveling at the fact that Jesus plans to take me into the kingdom after all the times I've broken God’s law.  In Psalms 103:10 the Bible reminds us, “He has not dealt with us according to our sins,” nor punished us according to our iniquities.”

Was Casey Anthony undeserving of her verdict? Quite possibly. Maybe even probably. I know for a fact that I don’t deserve mine.

To read many other great blogs or to become part of the ABC Wednesday family click here.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Your GPS

This is my article as published in the March 13, 2014 issue of The Mena Star.

When my son was a young boy he belonged to the DeQueen Pioneers Pathfinder Club, and I was a Pathfinder leader.  One weekend I took the Pathfinders on a backpacking trip.  We left in the evening and headed to Alexandria, Louisiana. We made it to Alexandria at about midnight.  There I took the eastbound exit off of the interstate instead of the westbound exit.  I wandered around Alexandria for an hour trying to find the right road.  By the time we found the campground it was 1:30 and we still had to pitch our tents.

I would have loved to have some way of knowing the right way to go to reach the campground.  I'm not the only one who has wished for such a device.  For centuries, navigators and explorers have longed for a system that would enable them to locate their position on the globe with the accuracy necessary to avoid tragedy and to reach their intended destinations.

The answer came about because of the Cold War.  U.S. scientists began working on the GPS system because of an Air Force requirement for a guidance system to be used with a proposed ICBM that would travel on a railroad system. On June 26, 1993, the U.S. Air Force launched a satellite into orbit, completing a network of 24 satellites known as the Global Positioning System, or GPS.

This satellite navigation system was intended for military use and therefore the signals were scrambled, limiting accuracy for civilian use.  On May 1, 2000, President Clinton announced that this scrambling would be turned off. Civilians were then able to use the GPS signals.  Soon there were accurate automotive navigation systems available.  Now smart phones come with GPS capability.

I like using my GPS; we have named her Tink. She tells me when to turn. She tells me what lane to be in. On our last trip to Houston to see our son she took us a new way and saved us half an hour.

So now that I have Tink to guide me, I never get lost.  I always know where to go.  Except---

When we first got Tink we were going to Shady Lake. Now I have been to Shady Lake a number of times, and I know how to get there. When Tink wanted me to turn off of my normal route I decided to see where she would take us. She took us on an adventure. She guided us to Shady Lake over forest service roads that hadn't been traveled on in a long time. There was grass growing in the road. We arrived safely at Shady Lake about an hour later than if we had traveled our normal route.

A couple of weeks ago we went to Dierks Lake to see our granddaughters compete in the Pathfinder Adventurer Cardboard Boat Race. Tink wanted us to leave the highway and travel across dirt roads. We declined. On our way home I was curious as to where she wanted to take us so we followed her advice. After travelling on forest service roads we were within just a few miles of the highway when we came to the Cossatot River bridge that was impassable because there was three feet of water flowing over it.

We had to turn around and go all the way back to Dierks Lake so we could take the paved roads. On our way back to the lake we followed Tink and were stymied three different times by locked gates across the roads.  After an hour we finally made our way back.

Sometimes exploring a new road can be quite an adventure. When you are traveling a rural Arkansas road you just don’t know where you will end up.  Sometimes even a GPS doesn't help.

Have you taken any wrong turns in your life?  Have you been on any wrong roads?  How do you know which road to take?

In Psalms 25:4, the Bible says, "Show me the path where I should walk, O LORD; point out the right road for me to follow".

That sounds like a GPS doesn't it.  God will point out the right road for us to follow.  You can trust him.  You might not always be able to trust your GPS, but you can always trust God.  No matter how knowledgeable you are, you aren't the best choice as navigator. Proverbs 14:12 tells us that, "there is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death".

The whole point of being a Christian is to have a knowledgeable navigator to guide us through this life to our eternal destination. Why would we decide not to listen to the best guide there is and use our own judgment instead?

Solomon explained it very well in Proverbs 20:24   “how can we understand the road we travel? It is the LORD who directs our steps.

The only reliable GPS for our spiritual life is God’s word.  The Bible gives us direction.  So many Christians I meet seem to want more than the Bible.  The old reliable Bible isn't enough for them and they want something new. Psalms 119:105 states, "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path".  If David and Solomon understood that it was God’s Word that directs our steps why should we feel that there is not enough information in the Bible and feel the need to supplement it?

I hope that you know where you are going. Have you studied the map? Do you have your spiritual GPS? Do you use it?

I hope that you and I will be able to say what David said in Psalms 73:23-26. “Yet I still belong to you; you are holding my right hand. You will keep on guiding me with your counsel, leading me to a glorious destiny. I have no one in heaven but you; I desire you more than anything on earth. My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever”.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014


How is your imagination? Do you ever daydream? What do you imagine?

Former Beatle John Lennon wrote a song titled Imagine in the early 70's. The melody is beautiful, and it is one of the most popular songs he ever wrote. But while the melody may be beautiful, the lyrics paint a different picture. Listen to what Lennon had to say.

Imagine there's no heaven. It's easy if you try;
No hell below us; above us only sky.
Imagine all the people, living for today.
Imagine there's no country. It isn't hard to do;
Nothing to kill or die for, and no religion, too.
Imagine all the people living life in peace.

One of Lennon's ideas was that the concept of God, Jesus, and religion got in the way of world peace; and in the final analysis, caused more bad than good. Karl Marx thought this very same way, and so have many other so-called brilliant philosophers over the centuries. Their idea was that if you rid the world of its ideas about God, Jesus, and religion, then the world would become a utopia. People working together in peace and perfect harmony would soon solve the world's problems.

When I put my imagination to work, I see something different. When I imagine no heaven it is a scary scene. As bad as things are in this world, imagine what it would be like if there was no God. If you spend much time imagining these kinds of things, it's frightening. I can't imagine peace without God. Imagining the world without God is depressing. Let's imagine something different.

I like to imagine the future. Growing up I liked reading popular science magazines. I also liked reading books by Isaac Asimov. His vision of what the future would be like intrigued me. One of my favorite things to imagine is what heaven will be like. Put your imagination to work. What do you imagine heaven is like?

Does the Bible have anything to say about our imagination? The Bible tells us in Ephesians 3:20 , "Glory belongs to God, whose power is at work in us. By this power he can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine". I can imagine a lot of great things, but God can do infinitely more. Put your imagination to work. Whatever you imagined, God can do infinitely more.

I like to think about God. I study the Bible to learn more about him. Can I really understand him? In Isaiah 55:8,9 it reads "My thoughts are completely different from yours, says the LORD. And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts".

God's ways are far beyond anything we can imagine. It seems my imagination is useless when it comes to God. One of my favorite texts is 1 Corinthians 2:9 where is says "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him".

Do you love God? God has prepared something so incredible that no human has ever even imagined it. There are people on this planet that have great imaginations. Look at some of the wonders of this world. The imaginations of artists, writers, architects are often spectacular, but they cannot imagine anything like heaven. Have you ever imagined what heaven will be like? Whatever you imagined doesn't even come close to what God has actually prepared for you.

Do you want to go to heaven? Why do you want to go there? I will tell you why I want to go. In John 14:1-3 Jesus tells us "Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in me. In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to myself; that where I am, there you may be also".

Jesus had prepared a place for me, and he wants me to be there with him. That is why I want to go to heaven. I want to be where Jesus is. Jesus has also prepared a place for you. Do you want to be there with him? What will it be like when we see the place that Jesus has prepared for us?  I can only imagine!

To read many other great blogs or to become part of the ABC Wednesday family click here.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Happy Baron Bliss Day

March 9th is Baron Bliss Day in the Central American country of Belize. We have visited Belize several times.  On one of our visits to Belize, we were in Caye Caulker and there were many Belizeans swimming and enjoying themselves at the area they call The Split. I asked someone about it and they told me it was Baron Bliss Day and it was a holiday for many people.

I later found out that every year, on the 9th March, wreaths are placed on the tomb of Baron Bliss in his memory . The day is celebrated as a public and bank holiday, and a harbor regatta is held in remembrance of a man who loved Belize.

The fourth Baron Bliss of the Kingdom of Portugal, Henry Edward Ernest Victor Bliss, was an Englishman by birth. In 1926, he sailed in his yacht Sea King to Belize and fell in love with the green Caribbean Sea, the cayes and balmy climate.

When he was younger he had contracted polio and decided to travel the world in a luxury yacht. After spells in the Bahamas, Trinidad and Jamaica, he arrived in Belize harbor, where he found a climate which suited him. He was extremely fond of the local people. When he arrived in British Honduras, as Belize was called then, his health was poor.  He spent some months off the coast of Belize aboard the Sea King, attempting to recover from this illness. Fishermen and colonial administrators treated him kindly and taught him about Belize. The Baron died of food poisoning, but not before he changed his will.  He loved British Honduras and wrote a will that revoked any former will in order to leave the bulk of his fortune for the benefit of the people of British Honduras. The will set up a trust fund that is used for the benefit of Belizeans and has made possible the building of the Bliss Institute Library and Museum in Belize City, health clinics and markets around the country, and has helped with the Belize City water supply system. The Baron is considered Belize's greatest benefactor.

Over the decades, the Baron Bliss Fund has used money from the savings accumulated on many projects for the benefit of Belize. The projects completed have benefited all parts of Belize. Some projects completed in the past century with the help of the Fund were The Baron Bliss Institute and Promenade, The Bliss School of Nursing, Belize City Water Supply System, Intransit Lounge at Belize International Airport, the Corozal Town Hall and the purchase of land for the building of the capital city of Belmopan.

The many projects realized by the Baron Bliss Trust have benefited thousands of citizens and were all completed in conformity with the desires of the will of Baron Bliss. It is safe to say that there will be many more ways and projects through which the practical kindness and affection of Baron Bliss will continue to aid Belize, for years and years to come.

Monday, March 3, 2014


According to the dictionary, hope is desire accompanied by expectation of or belief in fulfillment.  For the last seven years I have been a volunteer for the American Cancer Society.  The ACS gives people hope by saving lives, by helping people stay well and get well, by finding cures and fighting back against cancer.

The American Cancer Society Relay For Life is a life-changing event that gives everyone a chance to celebrate the lives of people who have battled cancer, remember loved ones lost, and fight back against the disease.  It is the top non-profit fundraising event in the world with over 5,200 events in the U.S. and with events in countries around the world.

I have been involved in Relay For Life since 2007. The number one reason I became involved is because my wife is passionate about Relay. She has such a passion for Relay For Life that it rubs off on those around her. Her passion stems from her family history. Her mother died of cancer when Gina was just 21 years old. Her father had colon cancer, and all three of her sisters have had breast cancer. She is the only person in her immediate family that is cancer free.  To read her story click here.

Several years ago, Gina's sister Roberta got involved with Relay For Life in Enumclaw, Washington. For a number of years, Gina would travel to Enumclaw to be a part of Relay For Life there. Seven years ago, we learned that Polk County was going to have a Relay. We got involved in the 2007 Relay, and have been involved ever since.

Last year my Mom was diagnosed with cancer.  All of a sudden, the work that I have done with Relay For Life and the American Cancer Society came sharply into focus.  It became even more personal.

Because of recent breakthroughs in the treatment of kidney tumors I had hope. The procedure that the doctors used on her tumor is called cryoablation.

Cryoablation uses hollow needles through which cooled, thermally conductive, fluids are circulated. Cryoprobes are inserted into the tumor. When the probes are in place, the cryogenic freezing unit removes heat ("cools") from the tip of the probe and by extension from the surrounding tissues.  The most common application of cryoablation is to ablate solid tumors found in the lung, liver, breast, kidney and prostate.

The concept of cryoablation is relatively new in cancer surgery for any disease.  Traditionally, surgeons have treated cancer by literally cutting it out. In contrast to this approach, cryoablation is a different concept in that cold energy is used to destroy the cancerous tissue at the exact site where it exists in the body. Cryoablation is particularly well suited to kidney cancer.

Cryoablation is a very promising new approach to kidney cancer. This kind of new treatment is why I am a strong supporter of cancer research.  I have spent the last seven years doing all that I can to raise money for cancer research through the American Cancer Society's Relay For Life.  As I was researching this procedure I came across the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center Library website.  I found these words about Renal Cryoablation that were written in 2008.  "Early results have demonstrated that it may offer an alternative for the treatment of renal masses with the advantages of minimal complications, spared renal function, decreased overall costs and equivalent oncologic efficacy. Long-term results are required in order to apply this minimally invasive technique to a broader spectrum of patients".  Just six years ago the procedure that was used on my Mom was a brand new technology.  It has only been available in Arkansas for three years.

Several large medical centers have produced data demonstrating that kidney cancer is cured in approximately 97 percent of patients who undergo cryoablation with a follow-up of three years. Because it is such a new procedure , 10 year follow-up information on patients having undergone cryoablation is not yet available.  Some of the data is showing 98 to 100 percent cure rates.

My Mom's doctors are confident of the success of the procedure.  That gives me hope.  I know that at Relay For Life events we often hear that we are raising money to find a cure. Cancer is not just one disease, it is many many diseases. Sometimes when we see how many people are affected by cancer and how much misery suffering and sadness it causes it seems hopeless. In my work for the American Cancer Society people often tell me that there will never be a cure because cancer is a big business and the doctors and pharmaceutical companies would suppress a cure if it was found. What a sad way of life it is for these people who have no hope. One of the things that Relay For Life events around the world focus on is providing people with hope. Hope is why we Relay!

I like a statement that the American Cancer Society released recently.  "Together with our millions of supporters, we save lives and create more birthdays by helping you stay well, helping you get well, finding cures and fighting back against this disease. Thanks to research funded by the American Cancer Society, many cancers that were once considered a death sentence can now be cured and for many more people their cancer can now be treated effectively".  It is way to simplistic to be focusing on a cure.  The American Cancer Society is focusing on "cures".  The fact that many cancers that were once considered a death sentence can now be cured should give us hope.

The fact that seven years ago when I got involved with Relay For Life the treatment that my Mom will undergo tomorrow would not have been available to her gives me hope.  The 97 to 100 percent cure rates that have been seen with renal cryoablation gives me hope.

Now with my Mom's cancer diagnosis and treatment, I have even more reasons to work hard in my positions with my local Relay For Life of Polk County, Arkansas and on the Arkansas State Relay For Life Leadership Council.  The procedure that was used on her tumor has only been available for a few years.  For me it is just one more proof that funding cancer research is so vitally important!

Just about everyone has been affected by cancer in one way or another. Relay For Life is a fun way to raise money and awareness for the American Cancer Society. There is probably no other cause that a person can support that touches more lives. Relay celebrates those who have battled cancer, it remembers those who have fallen, and it provides a way to fight back. That is why I am proud to be a part of Relay For Life. I hope that you will be a part of Relay For Life too. You can give others hope by becoming a Relay For Life volunteer.  Please go to the Relay For Life website and search for an event near you.

To read many other great blogs or to become part of the ABC Wednesday family click here.