While I was playing with Flickr Toys I used the Motivator Tool. I made the following poster using a picture of my granddaughter.
Possibilities are everywhere. Each one of us is dealt a hand. We are in control of the possibilities.
Our outlook on life is determined by how big our view of the world is. Our view hinges on the size of the window we see the world through. How big is your view. What are the possibilities? Does your window on the world look like this?
Or does it look like this?
I hope that you have a magnificent view of the world, and that you can see that the possibilities are endless. If we would all determine to never limit our imagination, to open our eyes to the possibilities all around us, the results would be amazing!
A few years ago my friend Richie Owens spent a year of his life writing and recording an album. I remember his enthusiasm as he would bring me new songs to listen to. Songs just seemed to pour out of him as he focused on this project. One of my favorite songs that he wrote was titled "Like A Child". Richie ended up choosing the song as the title track of the album. Here are the lyrics
I remember the story from when I was young
Where Jesus was teaching one day
And there were some little ones come to see Him
But the men tried to send then away
Little did they know this gentle young man
Was the one by whom all things were made
He decided to make an example of them
To explain something He had to say
Let them come unto Me
For such is the kingdom of God
Come ye also like them
For unless you do you'll be lost
We have to trust fully in Him, not ourselves
Rely on his word before anything else
We can grow great in stature
In wisdom and health, undefiled
But be like a child
These are hard words in the world which we live
When dog eat dog's putting it mild
'cause some of the things Jesus asked us to do
With this world just can't be reconciled
But we know he has made the way for us
And we know he has conquered the grave
And we know that His grace is sufficient
So that all who will can hear Him say
Children come unto Me
For yours is the kingdom of God
You have conquered the world
For you followed My staff and My rod
You trusted fully in Me not yourselves
You relied on My word before anything else
And you never grew to big to stay in My arms
All the while...Welcome home, child
The other day as I was listening to the album (it is still one of my favorites) I started thinking about what Jesus actually meant in Matthew 18:2 - "Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven".
That really is a blunt statement. If I don't become as a little child I will not be saved. It is very important that I understand what Jesus meant. My salvation depends on it. As I was considering this question, an important characteristic of little children came to mind.
One characteristic of little children is that they look up to the adults around them, especially parents. They don’t want to be left alone. They feel secure when they are with their parents. That is the way a Christian should feel about God. We should want to be with God.
In our relationship with God, we adults are in the same position as our children, except that we don’t know it. We sometimes behave as if we are running our lives, and that we are in control. We feel capable, and sometimes to such an extent that we feel we don’t really need God.
We need to know, that we are not in control. Like a child, we should always be looking up to someone for security and for help. We need to remind ourselves that we cannot handle life with our own wisdom or capabilities. In Proverbs 3:5,6 the Bible tells us "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.
This childlike quality was brought home to me by a story that my daughter told me about my granddaughter. While my granddaughter was attending Vacation Bible School, one of the activities that she was involved in was making a scroll like people used in Bible times. When she finished her scroll she told her teacher,"this is for Jesus. I'll give it to him when he comes to pick me up".
That is the kind of childlike faith that we all need to have. We are just waiting for Jesus to come pick us up so we can go home, and we have no doubts that he will be here soon.
Here is a slideshow that I put together with the Richie Owens song "Like A Child".
A couple of years ago, my wife and I took a trip to the Oregon Coast for a family reunion. We flew out of Tulsa, Oklahoma in an ice storm. Our plane was late taking off and we had to jog through the airport in Denver to make our connecting flight. We just made it on the plane, but our suitcases didn't. The rest of the flight to Portland was uneventful.
It had been more than 10 years since I had visited the Northwest and the Oregon Coast. Although we had one very rainy day while we were there, the weather was lovely and we had one day of absolutely perfect weather with beautiful blue skies. We spent the day visiting Depoe Bay and the Yaquina Head Lighthouse.
DEPOE BAY, OREGON
YAQUINA HEAD LIGHTHOUSE
On Friday even though the weather was bad we had a great time. The stormy weather made the ocean very turbulent and it was great watching the waves splash at the spouting horns in Depoe Bay.
SPOUTING HORNS - DEPOE BAY, OREGON
Because of the wet weather we decided that it would be a good day to visit the Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport. The aquarium is excellent and we had a great time there.
FEEDING THE SHARKS
Every morning I enjoyed walking along the beach as the sun rose. Our condo that was so graciously provided for us by the Boyds had beach access. I love the sights and sounds of the ocean.
FOOTPRINTS ON THE BEACH
WAVES AS THE SUN COMES UP
EARLY MORNING MOON OVER THE OCEAN
The only thing more beautiful than the beach and waves rolling in first thing in the morning is seeing the beautiful sunsets over the ocean as the sun is going down.
THE BEACH AT SUNSET
We had a wonderful time for the four days we were able to spend on the Oregon coast. My wife and I both love the ocean. The family reunion was lovely and we enjoyed visiting with everyone. Everyone we met made us feel welcome; well almost everyone.
Last night Don and Donna Mohl were in concert at our church. Don and Donna, under the name Folk Mountain Gospel, play traditional instruments such as the Bowed Psaltery, Hammered Dulcimer, Mountain Dulcimer, Mandolin, Zither, Guitar, and Harmonica. They travel 48 weekends of the year, which allows them to continue their day jobs during the week. Their music is a blend of “mountain” style and folk style gospel. They sing hymns, more recent gospel songs and some songs that they have written.
Here are a some videos that I recorded during the concert.
Listening to Donna play the Hammered Dulcimer brought back memories of a time in my life when a Hammered Dulcimer played an important role in letting me know that God listens to and answers our prayers. You can read the story here.
If you are interested in their music you can purchase CD's at their Folk Mountain Gospel website. All of the mountain instruments that Donna plays are made by Don. He also sells custom-built, hand-crafted musical instruments to the public. You can get more information about these beautiful instruments on their website. Here are some photos of the instruments available.
If you would like Don and Donna to come and present a program for your church or group, just let them know, no group or venue is too small. You can contact them through their website. They are based in Southwest Missouri and travel anywhere that is possible in a weekend.
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?
Yesterday all of America looked on in disbelief as once again it appears that an act of terrorism has been carried out in our country. My prayers go out for all of those affected by this tragedy. The scenes of Boston on television brought back to my mind the scenes here in my hometown of Mena after a tornado caused widespread damage back in 2009.
People and organizations from all over the U. S. arrived in Mena to help in the rebuilding process. One of the groups that helped was the New York Says Thank You Foundation. Each year on the 9/11 Anniversary, The New York Says Thank You Foundation sends hundreds of volunteers from New York along with disaster survivors from around the country to help rebuild communities around the United States recovering from disaster. It’s their way of saying “Thank You” for all the love and support Americans from across the country extended to New Yorkers in the days, weeks, and months following September 11.
At the core of the volunteer rebuilding effort were 25 New York City firefighters, many of whom survived the World Trade Center attacks. Also helping were disaster survivor volunteers from all the communities around the U.S. that the Foundation has assisted on previous anniversaries of 9/11 and who continually volunteer each year as their way to “Pay It Forward.” This group includes San Diego wildfire survivors, Hurricane Katrina survivors from Slidell, Louisiana, and tornado survivors from Utica, Illinois, DeGonia Springs, Indiana, Groesbeck, Texas, Greensburg, Kansas, and most recently Little Sioux, Iowa where New York Says Thank You brought out over 1,200 volunteers on the 9/11 Anniversary 2009 to rebuild a Boy Scout camp devastated by a deadly tornado that took the lives of four young Scouts.
The volunteers helped rebuild the homes of three families whose homes were destroyed or severely damaged in the tornado and rendered unlivable. These include a young family with two children whose parents both work at the local WalMart; a single mother who is 100% disabled and caring for an 18-year-old autistic son; and a young family with six children ages 8 years to 1 month who are now living in a mobile home with very little living space. The volunteers also helped rebuild Mena’s 4-H County Extension Community Center. The Community Center will serve as an educational meeting space for 4-H youth, farmers, community leaders, business owners, and families.
History was made on Saturday September 4, 2010 at Mena’s National Guard Armory when local service heroes from the community and surrounding towns placed ceremonial stitches in The National 9/11 Flag, a 30-foot American flag destroyed in the collapse of The World Trade Center on September 11.
Local first responders who helped in the rescue and recovery efforts following the Mena tornado were given the historic honor of helping to repair this national treasure which will become part of the permanent collection of The National September 11 Memorial Museum being built at Ground Zero.
A community memorial ceremony was held by The New York Says Thank You Foundation at Janssen Park in Mena. Jeff Parness, founder of New York Says Thank You stated, “New Yorkers will never forget what people from Arkansas and small towns all across the United States did for us in the days, weeks, and months following 9/11. Helping to rebuild Mena on the 9/11 Anniversary 2010 is our way of honoring that incredible spirit of kindness and volunteerism that united our Nation after 9/11.”
The service was very moving, with all of the NY Firemen along with volunteers from so many other communities that had been devastated by natural disasters. The true spirit of America was shown by those involved in New York Says Thank You. The people of Mena will never forget them.
Sunday we attended the 3 Penny Acre CD Release Concert for their new album, Rag and Bone. 3 Penny Acre is an awesome Folk Americana band from Fayetteville, Arkansas. Over the last few years, they have been my favorite band. Their name comes from the fact that the price of the Louisiana Purchase was three cents an acre. 3 Penny Acre is Bayard Blain, Bernice Hembree, and Bryan Hembree. They are all wonderful musicians, vocalists and songwriters.
Rag and Bone is their third album following the self titled 2008 release and Highway 71 released in 2010. Highway 71 debuted on the folk radio charts at #3, including the title track “Highway 71” as the #1 song, and held that position for two months. Highway 71 runs through Mena, and my shop is located on the highway. When we first moved to Arkansas in 1981, Highway 71 still had one lane bridges and there was a popular bumper sticker that stated, Please pray for me; I drive Highway 71.
I first heard 3 Penny Acre when they came to Mena, Arkansas and gave a concert at The Ouachita Little Theater. I was curious about them because Bernice Hembree grew up here in Mena. I was blown away by how talented they were. I attend their concerts whenever it is possible. The CD Release Concert was something really special. They not only played the songs off of the new album but lots of old favorites. As the music flowed, it was obvious to the audience that the band was having a great time.
Here is a video I recorded at the concert of Bayard Blain singing his song, "Cowbird". As someone who enjoys birdwatching, I got a kick out of the song.
At the concert I took a series of sepia toned photos. Here are some of the better shots.
After the concert we enjoyed visiting with Bernice and Bryan. We also visited some people from Mena who made the trip to Fayetteville for the concert. On the long drive back home to Mena we listened to the new album until it felt like an old friend.
If you enjoy Folk or Americana music and appreciate insightful songwiting be sure to check out 3 Penny Acre.
Click on the photo above to purchase the paperback version of my latest book, Devotionals from a Small Town, for $8.99
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.