Saturday, December 27, 2008

MY FAVORITE OF ALL TIME


Historic Pianist in Historic Town



My wife and I were to meet our son and his family in Southwest Missouri to spend Christmas week with them. We chose a location about half way for both because he lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Since we were arriving early to our resort lodging I told my wife of a popular spot in the historic town of Hollister, Missouri which would allow time for coffee and one of the favorite carrot cake dishes made at this beautiful stop. She affirmed that would be great.
I had heard it was owned by the famous concert pianist Dino Kartsonakis who has been my favorite pianist for nearly 40 years. Knowing it was Monday before Christmas I had no idea that he would happen in with an entourage of visiting family.
However, he was gracious to allow me some time and a photo shot. We discussed many of his early albums which I remembered out of his 50 albums to date and then I bought two which he autographed.
Dino was born in New York City to Greek parents and he began at age three to play his grandmother’s piano. At five he began taking piano lessons. He later received his professional training at The King’s College (who’s second President was my friend Dr. Robert Cook) and the Juilliard School of Music.
He is truly an American Piano Showman, a title given to him by over 80 million people who view his performances in some venue every year.
Dino and his wife Cheryl can be seen weekly on The Trinity Broadcasting Network or his show in Branson, Missouri where he performs annually. Kartsonakis also performed at the famed Carnegie Hall on December 15, 2005.
He plays a number of different types of music, all done professionally perfect, but I love his ability to combine the sacred and classical in such a way that the listener can worship and enjoy the old classics at the same time.
Often, I go to his website at www.dinoplayspiano.com/musicinsight.php lie near my computer and listen to his music or view some of the Great Hymns of the Faith put together by my dear friend Robert J. Morgan of Nashville for Thomas Nelson Publishers and listen as Dino plays the many selections.
I am not surprised that this artist and entertainer would also have a successful business after the liking of his chef father since he was raised around great baking. If you like Greek food you can also find a section of his mother’s recipes at http://www.24karrot.com/ .
His schedule was full and our time gone, but the stop was refreshing and the CD of one of his latest was played for nearly four hours returning home.
“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” --Colossians 3:16

Sunday, December 21, 2008

LUXEMBOURG A BEAUTIFUL PLACE

Luxembourg: A Sidewalk Café Delight

The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg is a paradise for those that like to walk, sightsee, shop, and sit ever so often for coffee and a pastry.

While my wife visited the shops, I found myself across the main street that overlooked the most beautiful view of the area near downtown.

Fascinating walks through the city and countryside was an excellent way of discovering its flora and fauna and cultural heritage.

While the Luxembourg fortress was a true example of European military architecture, it has changed hands many times over its existence. Since 1994, the fortifications and the old city have been classed as a UNESCO world heritage site.

But the main attraction is an extraordinary network of underground galleries, the famous casemates, which were carved from the city’s rocks. These went on for about 23km.

The Grand-Duke’s residence, the Grand-Ducal palace, has an exceptionally beautiful facade in Flemish Renaissance style and a majestic interior and ceremonial rooms open to the public during the summer only.

The name of Luxembourg made its first appearance in history around the year 963 when Count Siegfried exchanged land for a small abandoned castle, known as "Lucilinburhuc", located on a precipice on the site of the present-day capital.

Between 963 and 1443, Luxembourg was an independent county, then a Duchy within the Germanic Empire. Luxembourg was so highly-prized during these years was due to the strategic position on the European chess-board, and due to its formidable fortress became known as the "Gibraltar of the North".

During our short time there we walked most of the main streets, all of which had flowers and plants beautifying the area. The shops had clothes and cultural goods of all types since the Duchy has a strong multi-cultural population of about a half million people.

The people were very friendly and many spoke English, especially in the main stores.

Like most of the European countries, most of the government building had their ceremonial dressed soldiers that guarded its entrance. I was not sure if he could talk to me, but I did get an occasional “Yes or no” to my questions.

Many of the smaller European countries had their independence challenged during the First and Second World Wars. The painful experiences of these two wars strengthened the solidarity between the Luxembourg citizens, and consolidated their national feeling.

Travel has made me appreciate our country and the democracy we have. I may get angry at us sometimes, but have seen how others have had stresses we have never had.

“Blessed be the LORD: for he hath showed me his marvelous kindness in a strong city.”-- Psalm 31:21

Monday, December 15, 2008

TRIP THAT IS OUT OF THIS WORLD


This trip was planned with you in mind.

A lot of times, our gift giving is the result of strolling down the aisles of a gift store, and looking for that "right gift." We don’t quite know what the gift should be… but we’re sure we’ll recognize it when we see it. Have you ever done that? Of course you have.
But, God’s gift wasn’t like that… His gift was planned out from the beginning of Creation. This gift had been planned from the beginning of time. This gift had been announced again and again throughout the Old Testament prophecies because this gift was lovingly prepared and willingly given.

A wealthy man and his son loved to collect rare works of art. They had everything in their collection, from Picasso to Raphael. They would often sit together and admire the great works of art. One day the son died and the father was so grieved that in just a few months’ time… he also passed on. There was to be a great auction of his paintings and a great many influential people gathered, hoping for an opportunity to purchase one of the great masters for their collections.

The auction opened with a painting of the rich man’s son. The auctioneer pounded his gavel. "We will start the bidding with this picture of the man’s son. Who will bid for this picture?" There was silence. Then a voice in the back of the room shouted, "We want to see the famous paintings. Skip this one." But the auctioneer persisted. "Will someone bid for this painting? Who will start the bidding? $100, $200? The son! The son! Who’ll take the "SON?"
Finally, a voice came from the very back of the room. It was the longtime gardener of the man and his son. "I’ll give $10 for the painting."
"We have $10, who will bid $20?"
The crowd was becoming angry. They didn’t want the picture of the son. They wanted the more worthy investments for their collections.

The auctioneer pounded the gavel. "Going once, twice, SOLD for $10
A man sitting on the second row shouted, "Now let’s get on with the collection!"
The auctioneer laid down his gavel. "I’m sorry, the auction is over. When I was called to conduct this auction, I was told of a secret stipulation in the will. I was not allowed to reveal that stipulation until this time. Only the painting of the son would be auctioned.
Whoever bought that painting would inherit the entire estate, including the paintings. The man who took the son gets everything!"

At the very first Christmas, many people missed it because they were too busy looking for other things. The politicians missed the first Christmas. The business community missed the first Christmas. The innkeeper missed the first Christmas. In fact, even the religious establishment missed the first Christmas! That day is best expressed in the most popular verse in the Bible.

"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." --John 3:16

If our greatest need had been information, God would have sent an educator.
If our greatest need had been technology, God would have sent a scientist.
If our greatest need had been money, God would have sent an economist.
If our greatest need had been pleasure, God would have sent us an entertainer.
But our greatest need was forgiveness, so he sent us a Savior.

You know our problem? We're always trying to save ourselves. We think we can work our way into heaven. We say, "Oh God, my good works are this high, and my bad works are this low. Look at the balance here." The only problem is that God doesn't grade on a curve. But God doesn't judge you against anybody else. So you need a Savior. And that is provided. It's a free gift; just accept it.

The Bible says Jesus came to seek and to save. While you've been seeking, he's been seeking you. You see, the miracle of Christmas is not on 34th Street; it's in Bethlehem. He says, "I offer you forgiveness for your past, peace of mind in the present and a solid future in eternity." Those are the gifts. You say, "How do I find those gifts?" They're all wrapped up in Christ.
He showed that achievement was not in success. He didn't climb up; he stepped down. He wasn't after the chair at the head of the table; he took the lowest place. By being born as a helpless baby and placed in a manger, Jesus Christ demonstrated the most potent lesson of all time: the way up is the way down. If we are to help others best when we should first be willing to serve.
More and more I am becoming troubled with the way we celebrate Christmas, because it -seems like a glorified excuse for indulgence rather than a HOLY-day.
I like what pastor John Beehler said, “We participate in the holiday hustle and bustle of shopping, parties, etc. while raging against the system. Our priorities are all tangled up just like our tree lights when we get them out each year, no matter how hard we try to keep them neat and orderly. So we close our eyes and try to focus on the reason for the season, but when we open them the world keeps getting in our face.”

I was reading the other day about a little boy who was more honest than we are. He had received a Christmas present; he was writing back to his grandmother. He said, "Dear Grandmother, Thank you so much for the wonderful Christmas present. It was almost as good as the one I really wanted."

C. S. Lewis hit the nail on the head when he said, "We really celebrate two holidays on December 25th. One we call ’Xmas’ & the other we call ’Christmas.’"

Perhaps we should separate them and see the real difference, because most people today celebrate Xmas while few truly celebrate Christmas.
1. XMAS offers frivolous gifts – CHRISTMAS offers forgiveness.
2. XMAS can get you stressed – CHRISTMAS can give you peace.
3. XMAS is celebrated annually – CHRISTMAS is for eternity.
There are two facts of life which we all need to remember. First, we're all going to die someday, and second, you're going to spend more of your life on that side of death than you will on this side. This is why God allows you to board with His son for the trip that is out of this world.
Can you imagine being given a gift at Christmas and never unwrapping it? It would be silly. I mean, if you gave me a gift at Christmas and a year later you came over and I still hadn't un-wrapped it, you'd think I was a little nutty. "Why haven't you un-wrapped it?" "Oh, I love the wrapping paper. I'm sure I'm going to love it." "Well, I'm going to get to it one of these days." And yet, many continue this Christmas after Christmas after Christmas after Christmas. You've celebrated every Christmas for as many years as you are old; you know the songs and the stories, and you know what it's all about, but you've never unwrapped the gift. Now what gives? What's the logic behind that?

Do you have somebody that you have to buy a gift for, and you haven't bought the gift yet because they have everything? There's somebody like that in every family. Whatever it is you can think of, they already have it.

We sometimes think that about God. What does he want of us? What gift could you possibly give God at Christmas? God has everything as we try to excuse ourselves. God doesn't need anything; God is all and in all.

God doesn't NEED anything, but God WANTS something.

There's something you can give God that He wants and doesn't have: your whole heart, your whole being.

"You will find me when you seek me with all your heart." --Jeremiah 29:13

Sunday, December 7, 2008

His Angels Watch Over Us.


God’s Angel in Scrubs

Three days after the removal of my right kidney my fever elevated to an extremely dangerous level around 2:30 a.m., causing the nurses at Barnes-Jewish hospital to call an on duty trauma surgeon.

After a period of examination and consultation, the surgeon advised they head for the operating room for it appeared something had gone awry during the operation.

Having slipped into a coma an unusual thing happened to me. For a brief moment I was fully aware of being transported on a gurney. I knew there were three men in white hospital attire in the front with two nurses pulling and two more nurses on each side in the back.

I could feel the fast pace of the gurney and hear the chatter of the attendants. It was also during this brief period of consciousness that I looked up at this extremely attractive dark lady whose nurse’s shirt and cap were blue with floral items, and she had a facial mask around her neck. Her eyes and face showed a compassion accented by the warmth of her smile.

As we sped down the long corridor, I reached over to her and said, “Do you pray for people headed for surgery?” With her hand holding mine, she began to pray a powerful prayer until I fell back into an unconscious state.

Months later I asked the surgeon if he had a dark nurse on his surgical team. His reply was a surprising, “No.”

I do not know if possibly that nurse and her powerful prayer was a fixation of my mind or the fever causing a hallucination. I am more inclined to believe that she was an angel from God to comfort me in this test on my life.

During my emergency operation it was discovered that my duodenum had been punctured causing a fast spreading infection that filled my entire stomach area. This required my stomach to be left open so it could heal from the inside out. Many did not believe I would live as for weeks I knew little and was dependent on support systems. Seventeen months after that operation my stomach was closed by the same surgeon and all the large scar tissue was removed.

Five days after my return home another infection occurred, and I had to be opened again. Now 14 months later the wound is still closing, but God has restored my body and mind and I am rejoicing today for His mercy.

In a recent trip to my rehab hospital, where I previously stayed 58 days, I went to the familiar third floor and immediately found myself surrounded by three nurses who had cared for me when I could not walk and when my first wound was still extremely large and open. One said, “I never thought I would ever see you again alive.”

After 145 days of healing in two St. Louis hospitals and one in my hometown, I am grateful that many angels from the medical profession have ministered to me during this long period of time.

So was the dark lady an angel from God? You will have a hard time disproving it to me today.

“The angel of the Lord encamps round about them that fear him, and delivers them.”--
Psalm 34:7.


”For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”-- John 3:16.


Monday, December 1, 2008

Who says, There are no angels.

I met an Angel unaware at Dallas
After a few unexpected days of delay in Colorado Springs, my plane had left in a clear sky, but after two hours in the air the slow storm moving east had picked-up more moisture from the gulf making the clouds dark and heavy.
The pilot warned that our descend into the Dallas-Fort Worth airport would be rough, so I fastened my seatbelt for it. He was right, and I rejoiced when we made the landing safely.
After deplaning, I headed to my next gate to change planes to Nashville. I observed that a plane, which normally would have already been in, was not there.
A young lady from Oklahoma City had also just landed made her way to the same departure gate, recognized me and came over to sit near me since I had recently spoken in her college chapel.
The time for the scheduled departure came and still no plane. The rain was coming down in torrants and the wind was fierce causing no planes to land or take off.
Such a storm I had not seen in a long time, which continued until about 1 a.m. when the gate attendant announced, “This flight has been cancelled.”
In anger a host of unhappy travelers converged on the counter.
Being an experienced traveler I caught the eye of the young lady who had told me she was not only scared, but not feeling very well, jesturing for her to follow me. We hastened to a service desk a short distance away where the attendant was obviously closing when we walked up. She smiled through what appeared to be a tired and weary face as I said, “Our flight was just cancelled and I wonder if you would be so kind as to help us get on a plane to Nashville. If we cannot go together, put this young lady on the first available flight because she is sick.”
“I see one seat on the 6 a.m. flight which I will put her on, but nothing is available until 8 p.m. for you. That is the best I can do.” I nodded to the affirmative.
By then others had come and gathered behind us when she said, “Can you wait over here while I take care of these others?” She picked up the phone and evidently asked for help because in a very short time a couple more attendants came permitting her to leave.
“Please get on the cart over there she kindly requested. You were so kind to let the young lady go first. You were so different than all those that came behind you. My minister talks about kindness to others and patience all the time- which I try to practice.”
Little did I know she had also reserved two places for us in the Ambassador Club (for the Airline customer elite) where she was taking us. As she got permission to go in, she introduced us to the desk clerk who said, “I am sorry I only have two chairs that make into a bed position, but this will be much better than the hard seats outside.”
She smiled again as she departed with, “You both just seemed special!”
What an awesome God who gave me patience in Colorado Springs and again in the Dallas-Fort Worth airport sending an earthly angel to care for our needs.
Again my belief in a keeping and protecting God brought the rewards even in the midst of inconvience.
On June 28, 1787, at the Constitutional Convention, Benjamin Franklin raised a timely question: ”I have lived, Sir, a long time; and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this Truth, that God governs in the Affairs of Men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the Ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His Aid?“ Mr. Franklin understood the power of prayer, and so should we.Often I have thought of that angel that night and what how God will bless her. “And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, I tell you, he shall not lose his reward." --Matthew 10:42. And His promise to we who follow Him, “Trouble chases sinners, while blessings reward the righteous.” --Proverbs 13:21 (NLT).

Sunday, November 16, 2008

NOTHING IS WHITER THAN SNOW

Snow storm in Colorado Springs

Not all my traveling has met with pleasure. One such trip was to a meeting, along with our Editor-in-Chief, when we were invited to Colorado Springs, Colorado. This city is scattered in a beautiful valley stately guarded by the dominance of Pike’s Peak which towers over 14,000 feet.

The host organization had put us in a new, and very nice, motel that was just off the interstate. My first thoughts were, “This is great being able to get on the highway without any difficulty.” The sun began to hide early beyond the high mountain in the west, so I departed from the lobby to my room to gaze out the wide window and watch the handiwork of this majestic view. As the sun set, dark rolling clouds began to move in. I watched with disbelief that things could change so fast. While sitting there I heard freezing rain on the windows which soon was followed by very large snow flakes. I was mystified by this since I had not seen snow like this in years.

Since the day had been long, and the darkness occupied my thoughts, I was soon put to sleep where I lay for a number of hours in my dim lighted room. However, the darkness was now brightened as the sun burst through the blue morning sky which had been cleaned by the snow of the previous evening. Being an early riser I headed, as I do every morning, to the bathroom to shave and shower. After the morning ritual I slipped into a suit and readied for the day scheduled. However, before I opened the door to go to breakfast, I went to the window and with amazement could not even see my rental car or any others since they were under about 8 or 9 feet of snow. The highway was dead still and there was no activity anywhere. This suddenly sobered my dull sleepiness and I was made aware that my day activities would be changed.

At the desk the clerk advised that the day crew could not get to work and even if they were permitted on the highway they would not be able to get to the motel since the access road was filled with blowing snow and was probably 16 or so feet deep filling completely under the overpass bridge.

Well, the next week was spent in a motel that used up all their breakfast food in three days. However, they had gotten dough from a pizza shop directly across their parking lot left from the night of the snow. They provided this and the motel made biscuits from pizza dough until it was gone. I never thought I would like pizza biscuits, but when you are hungry most things suffice. Beds went unchanged unless you changed your own. Thanks to a demanding mom from my youth I was able to do a good change. Vacuum the floor and even wash towels. Teamwork became our mainstay.

The snow took a few days to allow cars to move, but then the backup of air flights became my next nightmare. Everyone was doing all they could to accommodate, but schedules were full and our time was governed by others. I was glad I had learned patience early in life.

Colorado Springs is one of my favorite towns, but as I finally was given a ticket to depart I looked out my airplane window with, “I hope I don’t see you again for a while. Enough is enough!”

“ And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope:,” -- Romans 5:3-4


Sunday, November 9, 2008


Crossing Highest Bridge in Canon City, Colorado

I was working toward a business certification from the University of Colorado and had sometime in Colorado Springs. A minister friend of mine and I had discussed viewing parts of the area I had not seen on former visits, so I suggested we travel down to Canon City and see the highest single suspension bridge in the U.S. which was near there.

My friend and I decided to take the Tram across and walk back on the bridge. Boy! Was that ever a mistake? I was terrified on the ride and even more afraid during the walk back because you could see through cracks between each plank all the way back. At 1,100 feet I was sure I saw China once or twice. My friend is a rather large manly fellow and I admitted to him of my deathly fear and he invited me to hold to his arm until we got back to the other side. Honestly, I held on for a while until my composure had returned.

I suppose everyone has a fear of some type and I discovered on this day mine was of height. For you see this is the world's highest suspension bridge which was build June 5, 1929, and completed in November 1929 in a time when building was not to be compared with our time. In fact, the architect only used a slide rule, pencil and paper, for his guidance. This bridge is 1,260 feet long and is 18 feet wide as it spans 880 feet. The walkway is made of 1,292 planks of deck with about 250 are replaced annually. The original cost to build was $350,000 which would cost today about $20 million.

The tram is also the longest single-span Aerial Tram in the world and was built in 1968. It too cost $350,000 and is 2,200 feet long spanning the Arkansas River at a height of 1,178 feet with more than two miles of cables utilized in the tramway system. I didn’t know that is had wind-warning gauges working at all times keeping the tram from operating during severe weather or gusty winds. If you ask me it should have never left for the other side because the wind blew all the way.

Besides the worlds longest and highest, this area boasts of having the world's steepest Incline Railway. By now you would think I would not try anything else. But I did!

How did all this come to be? Well, two railroad companies were fighting for the right-of-way to bring gold down out of the mountains through the rugged Royal Gorge. Only one company could win – and to make sure they would, the Santa Fe Railroad hired Bat Masterson and his gang to defend their position while their men laid track along the edge of the Arkansas River.

It was an exciting day but I don’t plan to visit there again until I stop shaking.

“It is as high as heaven; what canst thou do? Deeper than hell; what canst thou know?”
.-- Job 11:8




Sunday, November 2, 2008

RHODES A PLACE TO SEE


Rhodes is truly the island of Roses

Rhodes, the beautiful island of roses, has unique physical scenery that does not cease to impress its visitors. Also unique is its climate with more sunny days than any other place in lower Europe. Like other Greek cities most chose a mainline god or goddess so the people of Rhodes chose Helios, the Sun, as their signature god. With practically zero crime rate and friendly and hospitable people you'll be surprised how easy life in Rhodes can be.

Rhodians are proud to note their city was the first ever built on an urban plan. In fact, 2,400 years ago, the famous architect of the ancient times, Ippodamus, designed and applied the first ever urban plan based on a perpendicular system.
Probably the most frequented part of the city is the ancient harbor - today called Mandraki - with the statue of the deer and the fawn at its entrance. Tradition tells us that this was where the famous Colossus of Rhodes, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, stood. Near the old city you will find exposed sparse remains of the Temple of Aphrodite.

Even after centuries of conflict and wars, Rhodes remains beautiful. Its beaches are among the cleanest in the Aegean, and its interior is still home to unspoiled mountain villages, rich fertile plains -- and butterflies.

With Richard and Carolyn, our traveling companions, we agreed that one of the highlights of our visit on the island was a trip by bus over to Lindos, a distant of 47km from the city of Rhodes. After arriving at mid-day we went to the shops underneath the Acropolis before we began our long walk to view this very historical place

Vendors were everywhere selling their wares. Our wives not desiring to make the trip up the hill suggested we consult one of the vendors and ride a couple of his donkeys up to the top. Well, two big men took their suggestion and boarded the animals. I am sure we looked like two giants on these little creatures. About half way up the trail my donkey slipped on a flat rock and his feet lost his footing and he went down fast. So did I, but I was able to remain upright. As fast as he had gone down he popped right back under me. The rest of the trip was at a slower pace and we finally entered the gate in good shape.

The village has perfectly preserved its medieval character, with pebble-covered streets and whitewashed houses built on a slope just over the beautiful sea. A series of steps leads to the ancient Acropolis with its Doric Temple of Athena. Through the main gate we discern the ruins of the Knight's Lodge and the Byzantine church of St. John. We cross the Doric Stoa (5th century BC) with its 42 columns (20 have been restored) and climb the majestic staircase to higher terrace with Propylaean ruins (5th century BC). From this point we reach the Sanctuary of Lindian Athena, with its elegant bi-prostyle temple on the edge of the cliff (4th century). Ruins of an ancient theater have been found on the slope of the Acropolis. The ancient Acropolis was then built into a castle.

After a few hours of touring the entire area we looked toward the sea and saw a magnificent view of a little inlet with a small white-walled building with a blue top. According to scripture, St. Paul the Apostle landed there when he came to the island of Rhodes; accordingly, the tiny harbor on the other side of village has been named Agios Pavlos. What a view it was since we were to high in the air looking down and toward the beautiful sea.

We felt sorry for the donkeys so we decided the walk down would be better for us both since the trail was a continuing down grade. About three fourths of the way we heard the voice of familiar ladies. Sure enough in the shop were our two first ladies. My wife’s first words were, “look what I just bought!”

Well, my wife stills wears a windbreaker jacket she bought in Rhodes that is beautifully embroidered with, “Cruising the Aegean Sea.”




Sunday, October 26, 2008

On USS Sunward 1972


Bahamas a Foreign Land Just Minutes Away

Forty-five minutes east by air from Miami, Florida, you can arrive at the city of Nassau, Bahamas, where I have been nineteen times. Visits there were to preach, do seminars, or general consultant work for many of the denominations that have sizeable churches on New Providence Island or other neighboring islands. At the port in Nassau is a familiar post with boards made into arrows pointing in all directions of a distance city along with the mileage. Some were close but most hundreds or a few thousand miles away. This is just one indicator that you are no longer in the United States.

On a number of occasions I addressed over a thousand for the Church of God, Central Bible church, and the Christian and Missionary Alliance. These were thrilling times as you shared not only their culture, but their faith. Likewise, many times I spoke on cruise ships that were docked in Nassau on the weekends for the missionary group with Bethany Fellowship. The ships would not allow denominational groups but would welcome the Fellowship because they were made up of people from a number of churches solely for the purpose of ministry to the guests on the ship.

Nassau is the home of the Bahamian national capital, the bustling hub of The Islands of the Bahamas that traces its heritage back to the shipwrecking days of the legendary pirate Blackbeard. Prized for its sheltered harbor, the city made history and preserved it beautifully in colonial mansions, cathedrals, 18th-century fortresses and a Queen's Staircase whose 66 steps lead to a view not to be missed.

Today’s Bahamians continue the tradition of the early Lucayan and Taino Indians by producing distinctive arts and crafts that reflect the skill and artistry of their heritage. Bahamians utilize local resources to create unique foods, spices, ceramics, crafts, art, and music.

O yes, you will want to join in the fun of bargaining at the famous Straw Market, savor the colorful bustle of outdoor fruit and vegetable stalls and fresh fish market, or be entranced by the fashionable elegance of Bay Street's international boutiques.

The cities of Nassau and Freeport are the best know cities on the islands, but there is much more to discover in the islands of the Bahamas--there are about 698 more islands and cays! These other islands are called the 'Family Islands'. If you are searching for unspoiled beauty and quiet, you will find it in the Family Islands. These islands offer miles and miles of unexplored beaches, caves and cays which allow for the best scuba diving, fishing and sailing. The people of the Family Islands are well-known for their warmth and friendliness.

Paradise Island, which is 685 acres, is connected to the city of Nassau by two 600-foot bridges. The island is developed almost exclusively to accommodate travelers, with resorts, hotels, restaurants, shops, a golf course, and the large Atlantis aquarium along with other sites. There are very few private residences existing on this island.

One lady I remember well was the pianist each time I was a speaker on a cruise ship. She was from Ireland and had all the characteristics with auburn hair and a face full of freckles. Her husband was the president of the Bank of Scotland that had about 50 branch offices throughout the islands. These were people that God had blessed and were more than happy to share they bounty with others. I remember visiting in their marvelous home after many of the services and gathering around the piano and as a group sang many of the old hymns of the faith.

While ships came for many different places they ported in the same port with as many as seven nearly every weekend.

My mind has many times evaluated a day when people from every corner of the globe will gather into one place. The place for the redeemed. Color or denomination will not be a factor. Only those who have a faith and knowledge in Jesus Christ.

“And they shall come from the east, and from the west, and from the north, and from the south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God.” Luke 13:29

“And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” Matthew 24:31

“The Lord hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.” Isaiah 52:10

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Knossos visit in Crete


Crete revealed the finding of a great civilization

Crete lies at the point where the continents of Europe, Asia and Africa meet. It is the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean with Iraklion the biggest city in Crete, and the fifth in Greece, with a population in excess of 130,000.

The climate of Crete is probably the mildest in Europe. The mountains that run across the island act as a barrier to the weather, often creating different conditions in northern and southern parts of Crete. The highest peak in this area is Pahnes, at 2,452 meters above sea level.

Some of the most characteristic natural beauties of the Cretan scenery consist of the famous Cretan gorges which begin at the mountainous areas of the island and end to the sea. The green gorges abound with rare species of flora and fauna which are protected by strict rules, as they are unique throughout Greece. Among them, one can admire rare species of cypress-trees, platans, pine-trees and wildflowers.

The Venetians began construction of the city walls in 1462, which were completed more than a century later. The walls were 4km in length, of a triangular shape and had seven bastions. Centuries of events occur between this time and the turn of this last century, but Iraklion grew in size after the 1913 union with Greece. However, its strategic location again made it a target for invading forces in 1941. The German bombardment during the Battle of Crete caused a great amount of damage and after the war the city was extensively rebuilt.

After shopping in the old walled city, Richard and Carolyn, our traveling friends, and my wife and I, flagged a taxi who drove us to the famous Minoan Palace of Knossos located about 5-6 km south of the city. Knossos was the most impressive and luxurious places built during Bronze Age (2800-1100 BC).The excavations reveal the remains of a most progressive civilization of years past. The Palace was built twice, every time even more beautiful. It covered an area of 22,000 sq.meters. It had about 1400 rooms in the original palace and 300 people lived in them (the Royal family of Knossos and their servants). The king was called Minos, son of Zeus. In Knossos one can see 2 big paved courtyards, many storerooms, temples, private rooms and a theater. Some parts of the Palace were 4-5 floors high. Staircases with shallow alabaster steps led on the upper or underground floors.

It was really exciting to visit the Minoan Palace and admire the King's and the Queen's apartments with the lovely decoration of blue dolphins. We also saw what is said to be the oldest throne in Europe: the alabaster-made throne of King Minos in the throne room.
There is not enough room to allow me to write about this unusual civilization but it is believed the European system has its roots there. One thing for sure is that buildings of yesteryear grow old, crumble and the people that lived in such places are often forgotten in history.

“Hast thou not heard long ago how I have done it, and of ancient times that I have formed it? now have I brought it to pass, that thou shouldest be to lay waste fenced cities into ruinous heaps.” --2 Kings 19:25


God as the Sovereign of all creation shows that He works out His will among the inhabitants of the earth toward an ultimate end—ridding the earth of all rebellion and bringing everything back into perfect harmony with Himself

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

EPHESUS-LAND OF PAUL


FROM ONE TEMPLE TO ANOTHER TEMPLE

Arriving at Kusadasi, Turkey, reputed to be the most attractive city in the Aegean (it was!), we caught a bus for our trip about 30 miles to visit the Ephesus of the Bible.

The apostle Paul spent more time here than any other place he visited on any of his missionary journeys, so I was excited that I could see it. It was here he faced the riot of the silversmith, led by Demetius, because the sale of the statues of Diana (goddess of love) had taken a down turn due to his preaching.

This was also the town where the young evangelist Timothy served as pastor and according to tradition was the home of the Apostle John and Mary the mother of Jesus in their later years.

The city was founded by the Greeks nearly three thousand years ago and has some of the most impressive archaeological and historical sites in the world. However, this city, like others in the Middle East has been burned, conquered and destroyed. Afterwards it became somewhat Romanized so most of the present ruins are Roman ruins. Ephesus is the best-preserved classical city on the Mediterranean, and perhaps the best place in the world to get the feeling for what life was like in Roman times. As a strategic coastal gateway to the Eastern World, this Ionian refuge grew to be the second largest city in the Roman Empire; the site of a Christian shrine, and at the top of the hill still stands the Temple of Artemis, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. During its powerful era even Cleopatra walked its streets.

As I walked the hand hewn stone streets, viewing the carved pillars that lay everywhere, I could image myself walking with Paul or Timothy stopping to go into the Library of Celsus, which in its restoration remains a fascination sight. It was hard for me to remember that most of this preceded the birth of Christ by a thousand years.

I was sincerely impressed with the quality of life the inhabitants must have enjoyed. Long before America this community had running water carried by aqueducts, some of which still remain, that gave them even flush toilets in both the community places or in their homes. Image this over 3000 years ago!

The city had a most inspiring Great Theater located toward the Church of the Virgin Mary that was created on the foundation of the house where John, the disciple of Christ,
and Mary, the mother of Christ, lived in their final years. Not far away was built the Basilica of St. John over the spot where John was supposedly buried on the southern slope of Ayosolug Hill. The monumental basilica was in the shape of a cross and was covered with six domes. Its construction, being of stone and brick, is an extremely rare find amongst the architecture of its time. Raised by two steps and covered with marble, the tomb of St John was under the central dome that was once carried by the four columns at the corners. The columns in the courtyard reveal the monograms of Emperor Justinian and his wife Theodora. Constructed in the 5th century AD, the baptistery is north of the nave, with its key hole shape. Rampart walls around the church were constructed for protection from the Arabian attracts in the 7th - 8th centuries AD. The impressive 10th century AD frescoes representing St John, Jesus and a Saint, ornament the chapel. With the invasion of Turks, the chapel was used as a mosque in the 14th century; unfortunately the Basilica of Saint John became unusable due to the serious earthquake in the same century.

This area reveals the greatness of yesteryear, where time brought on destruction and saw buildings perish. One day we can become part of a beautiful city where time is no more and when decay or death is over.

“But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” - 1 Corinthians 2:9

Sunday, October 5, 2008


Going-to-the-Sun Road

One of the most beautiful parts of the United States is an area in Northwest Montana. My wife and I, and a couple friends from Ohio, had stopped at a lodge for lunch and learned we could board an open top touring car and ride over what was a most spectacular drive. What a surprise we were in for as we viewed soaring mountain peaks, glaciers, deep-blue lakes, and lush forests of spruce, lodge pole pine, cedar, hemlock. All of which was a delight to our senses as we rode on this way on what is called the Going-to-the-Sun Road through Glacier National Park. Many turnouts allowed us to relish vistas of glacier-sculpted mountains and glimpse wildlife which was in abundance.

Animals were sometimes a problem as the road was being constructed. One account describes a deer that became entangled in blasting wires and prevented a blast that would have killed it. There were many stories about the bears that were drawn to the camps by the smell of food. Employees had to watch their lunches; they would hang them in trees along with saws or other tools that would move with the wind and frighten off the bears. At food supply stations contractors would pound nails in the walls with the points outward. One meat house was built on stilts and fitted out with a drawbridge. One black bear even set up a permanent post at the back door of a camp kitchen. Grizzly bears were far more dangerous than black bears and caused serious alarm. When one threatened the Russian crew at Camp 6 on Logan Pass, the contractors called in park rangers for protection.

The building of a section of the road through the extreme terrain and conditions west of Logan Pass illustrates why construction took so long. Because work on all parts of the road progressed at the same time, workers did not have a completed road below them to transport their supplies. The contractors also used pneumatic drills and almost 500,000 pounds of explosives. Construction typically took place in stages. First, the engineering crew marked the way followed by laborers who cut down the trees and did the "grubbing," removing stumps and roots. Then the explosives men moved in. After the explosion broke up the rock, the power shovels cleared and loaded the debris on trucks or on "dinky" railroads.

Laborers came from all over. One group of Russian immigrants set up their own cook tent with their own cook. A number of Italian immigrants worked on the masonry guardrails. One Irish-American contractor tended to hire his fellow Irish from Butte, Montana.
Glacier National Park, which includes over one million acres of Rocky Mountain scenery, was designated as the country's 10th national park in 1910. The Great Northern Railway soon began building a series of hotels and chalets throughout the park.
We, and our friends, stayed at the Many Glacier Lodge where the surrounding mountains made it one of the most beautiful settings I have ever stayed. However, the air in the water pipes was a constant chime all night as we slept.
Going-to-the-Sun Road was the first to carry visitors by the lakes, glaciers, alpine peaks, and meadows of Glacier National Park. The 50-mile route, which connected the east and west sides of the park and crossed the Continental Divide at Logan Pass, was surveyed in 1918, and work began in 1921. Progress was slow, however, due to limited and erratic congressional funding and the difficulties of working under extreme mountainous conditions. This road was dedicated in 1933.

The area is so fitly described by the following Bible verse found in Isaiah 40:4, which says, “Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain”

Heaven is created, built, and ready for His children to come and see, and to live forever. And His children will also come for every corner of the earth to dwell together in everlasting beauty.




Sunday, September 28, 2008

50th Anniversary 1958 -2008


50 Years and moving forward

As a teenager I dreamed of being a Navy chaplain and seeing the world. I never dreamed that God in His infinite wisdom had a different plan for me where I would minister and still see more than I ever thought possible. Which I must conclude I could have never improved on what He had chosen for me.

Not only have I had a good life, I have had a wonder helpmate who gave us sons that brought joy to our lives. She cared for them so much in our early marriage while I was away before we could travel together.

Now our children have children, and we are together again to share, as we did then, each others joy, along with illness or displeasure that might affect us. But we do it together.

The last two years have been rough years for us. I spend a total of 143 days in St. Louis hospitals and Parkland in Farmington . This year my wife was operated on in Nashville, Tennessee and later air vac back there for another five week stay. When I saw the helicopter lift into the sky from the hospital pad I felt so alone. No wonder Benjamin Disraeli said, “Teenage is a mistake, middle age a struggle, but old age a regret.” These were days when we thought our togetherness would end, but due to God’s provision we continue to share each other.

I am so thankful for the many doctors, nurses, and staff members that I now call close friends. Some even visit us in our home or meet us for a meal. Due to my long stays in the hospitals in St. Louis, I became like a resident pastor to so many who sought my prayer or advice. Some were foreign born working in various roles. Many were Hindu, Buddhists, Oriental, Black, or people totally unreligious, that became my friends and I theirs. God did me a great favor in allowing me to meet such wonderful people. Perhaps, my travels to so many lands had prepared me because I understood the cultures and sometimes the languages. I can honestly say, “God is an awesome One.” What an opportunity to share the abundant life of Christ to seekers and hurting ones.

Farmington and friends everywhere shared during both our times of crisis and we are so grateful for you. Over 450 cards from around the world came to us. Phone calls from pastors or friends came daily. Over 10,000 emails came before I could respond or delete then while in rehab where I had access to the Internet. Even the CEO of that hospital became my daily coffee partner and friend. Visits to the hospital helped us know you cared. We have not forgotten--nor has our precious Lord.

Recently, friends from Ohio called and asked us to go with them to Branson. They knew I was unable to drive at that point. They detoured just for us. What a time we had. This was the first time we have really enjoyed ourselves in a vacation setting for over two years.

Travel has really changed since I was a lad. The driver pushed a button and a voice replied, “Where do you want directions to?”
“Branson , Missouri to the so and so motel,” she stated.
“I am downloading your directions. Have a good day!”
What was so disconcerting I couldn’t even backseat drive, because someone out on some star did all the directing. It was truly interesting to a boy who remembers when there was no TV, jet airplanes; and when electricity came to our home for the first time.

Likewise, two weeks ago we visited one of our sons in Ohio , and then spent a week in Gatlinburg before going to Nashville to see my wife’s doctor for a checkup. Even there, friends prepared a resting place and special dinner at a friend’s home for four families that have been longtime friends.

Friends! That is what life is all about. It is even said of Christ that he is a friend that sticks closer than a brother. What a fact!

You know a lot about us, so we want to know more about you. Therefore, my wife and I, want to invite you to join us as we celebrate our 50 years of marriage together, at the First Free Will Baptist Church, 305 W. Columbia, Farmington, this Saturday, October 4th at 2 p.m. as our son, Steven Loveless from Tulsa, Oklahoma, will officiate as we renew our wedding vows in the church sanctuary. Afterwards, meet with us for the reception provided in the church fellowship until 4 p.m.

Leviticus 25:11, “A jubilee shall that fiftieth year be unto you…”

Monday, September 22, 2008

UNEXPECTED EVENTS


THE DAY I MET A PRINCESS

During a recent trip to Tulsa, Oklahoma, we stopped at our favorite restaurant near Fort Leonardwood, Missouri for lunch.

After ordering, I noticed a number of military officers, with an unusual mix of larger men wearing the dress of another country.

Being the curious person I am I walked over to visit the table of 12 to 14 men and developed a conversation with them. Within minutes I learned they were from American South Samoa who had come to celebrate the retirement of one their own. In the midst, was the governor of that country who was sitting next to a Major General. Suddenly, I saw I was in the company of high officials.

While standing with them the Samoan men began to sing, causing a hush that calmed the noise of the large eating area. Everyone stopped and just listened. While we didn’t understand the language, the melody and harmony was beautiful. It was like a trained male choir. Afterwards, I inquired about the song and was told it was a song of thanksgiving for the meal.

Later in the day we arrived in Joplin, Missouri, where we were to spend the night with a long time friend. We were able to celebrate the 81st birthday with our friend and her son and family. It was indeed a joy to renew old memories.

Continuing for Tulsa we decided to visit the Will Rogers Memorial in Claremore, Oklahoma. As we turned into the parking area we immediately saw it was full and even the streets we all lined with cars. On our second trip through the lot we stopped a man and asked what was going on there today?

“An event of the Cherokee Nation was his reply.”

We had just wanted to visit the memorial, I told him, and he told us to park on the grass near the entrance to the door with his permission. He was the director of the memorial so I thought it would be safe for us to do so.

To our amazement we found some very interesting booths and met many Native Americas who asked who we were and welcome us to their concave.

While my camera was clicking a number of our new friends, a beautiful young lady was approaching us in Indian dress with a sash draped across her which read Miss Cherokee.

After a few minutes I learned her name was Little Feather and she had just been crowned Miss Cherokee. The 19 year old beauty submitted to my request of a picture with her and then of her father.

We spent a good part of the mid-day in the building and memorial grounds which brought back many things about Will Rogers who himself was a Cherokee.

So we finished our trip to stay in a motel so we could make a surprise entrance into the church for a Pastor Appreciation service the church was providing for our son.

The service was already started when we slipped into the back of the church where we waited to be introduced as speaker for the occasion. What a surprise it was to him as we walked to the platform visible for the first time to him and the church.

So this week was full of surprises. First, the governor of South Samoa, second a celebration with an old friend, thirdly to meet the Cherokee Princess and then our pastor son.

Life may have its special days but there is coming a day we have heard about all our lives. That day will be when we meet the Lord face to face.


“But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.” II Peter 3:10.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

REALLY ROUGHING IT!


Hostel in Northern Spain

My wife and I had completed a weekend of speaking at a church near Madrid, Spain and were to travel to southern France the next day to speak to a concave of Missionaries from Spain and France.

The next morning we left headed north on the winding highway meeting and passing hundreds of cars on the narrow highway. Our driver, who understood Spanish drivers made an additional lane in the middle section of the highway and blew his horn repeatedly to warn of our presence. To say I was terrified would be a correct evaluation of my feelings.

As darkness was beginning to present itself we stopped at a hotel that had been built in an old castle. It was unique and would have been a good place to stay, but our missionary companions thought it was a bit high. So we traveled about two more hours until starting into the high Pyrenees with rugged forested hills and canyons, and the snowcapped mountains of the Pyrenees themselves.

We entered a small village and we pulled into a hostel and found they had room for four. At the check-in we were not told that they were without water for the toilets or for the heat boilers. It was very late by now and we didn’t desire to go farther since it had taken so long to find this place. We went into the little café that was ready to close and ate what they had left to offer then headed for our room. With nothing working we went to bed. Our beds were narrow, only enough for one, and we were weighted down with heavy quilts. We could barely move and nearly froze to death.

I was nearly asleep when my wife asked if she could move in with me because she was cold. Since the beds were so narrow, we soon learned she would have to move back to her own bed, because it was so uncomfortable for two. What a night to remember! My wife and I rejoiced for a roof over our heads, but didn’t get much rest.

In our 50 years together we have had many interesting events. This one causes us to have a frigid feeling each time we remember it.


“Whensoever I take my journey into Spain, I will come to you: for I trust to see you in my journey and to be brought on my way thitherward by you, if first I be somewhat filled with your company.” --Romans 15:24

Sunday, September 7, 2008

PAID IN FULL






My wife and I, along with a team of four others, had flown from Columbus, Ohio to Jamaica to conduct Vacation Bible Schools in six churches in the interior of the country near Montego Bay.

My former employer had donated over six thousand dollars worth of VBS material and had previously shipped it to the location where we would be teaching. Other suppliers had given us glue, scissors, and other items we would need to make the school a success in an area where things like these were not as available.

During the week we enjoyed a combined attendance of over 1100 students and local workers who we taught in advance how to use the school material. It was a wonderful experience watching the children, most of whom had walked 5-6 miles through jungle like areas or banana fields to and from the churches. We were amazed at the dedication of their attendance and desire to learn more about the Bible characters in each lesson.

On our return to the airport to check in our rented van, we had to detour due to a large crowd of people surrounded by about 50 police and military personnel. As we got closer we saw that a cow was tied to a telephone pole and was groaning loudly. I was still without understanding for the large gathering until I was stuck with the amazement that both rear hams and legs had been cut off of the cow. No wonder it was mourning in pain.

I later learned the cow had wandered into the street and was hit by a car damaging it. Since cows are not supposed to be loose, the driver of the car took the amount of estimated damages to his car from the animal fulfilling an unwritten code of the area.

As we flew out that afternoon the discussion surrounded the subject of the dying cow.

Nearly 2000 years ago there was another sacrifice on a pole. This was when Christ died to pay the price for the sins of the world. It was enough that the father in heaven accepted it as “Paid in full.”

Ephesians 5:2
“And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savour.”

Sunday, August 31, 2008

False Alarm in Vancouver

FALSE ALARM IN VANCOUVER

"Honey! What is that loud bell ringing for?" my wife said as she tugged at my shoulder across the twin beds.
Startled! We jumped to our feet, turned on the lights, looked across at the television where the digital clock shouted 1:23 A.M. As the bell continued, we sought to dial the hotel desk. No answer! People and panic became obvious outside our door as the sudden awakened attempted to push the button for the elevators. No response. They had been shut off. Now it was evident we would walk down 34 floors to our safety. Finally, we found the exit stairway, and in our haste we were on our way along with others who were as alarmed.
This hotel, one of Vancouver, British Columbia's most beautiful, had attracted people from many parts of the world, and they were like us making their way down the same exit tunnel. Many Japanese and Chinese that were a part of another tour group staying on the same level were passing us one by one. We didn't understand what they were saying, but one sound reflecting the same word came from their lips. In their near panic it must have been, "Hurry! Hurry!" We did! But not at their pace.
Finally, we made it to the plaza level, and couldn't exit. One Oriental lady who spoke English shouted, "This door is locked! Is there another way?" Since I was at the top of the stairway I turned to an outside door, looked down the hallway and saw another exit way. "This way!" I shouted. Again the throng advanced.
Then four more flights later we opened the outside door to a ground level parking area with steps leading up and out to the street and a large open area across where at least a couple hundred people were standing.
Blinking lights from two huge fire trucks spoke as they rotated in the darkness. A second glance revealed a harried, but presentable group of people from so many countries.
After a few minutes a loud speaker broke the sound with, "This is the hotel manager. We want to advise you that this has been a false alarm. Please return to your rooms. It is safe! I repeat, it is safe."
Well, we were not the only ones that didn't move. Most remained and didn't make any motion of leaving. After a few loud speaker announcements and the removing of the fire engines the crowd began to disburse. My wife and I, and some Delta Airline friends who we had met on our trip back in Alberta, decided to sit in the lobby for a few minutes before returning to our rooms.
In a few minutes one of the many night managers came by to reassure us of our safety. "A man was smoking a cigar on the 33rd floor, a non-smoking floor, where a fire detection device detected it and set off the alarm," she said. "It has turned out to be a false alarm thank goodness," she continued.
False alarm. What a long fierce walk (or should I say run) for just a false alarm. However, life presents its time of alarms for us so we can consider our ways, our destiny and to recheck for our exit.
We returned to our 34th floor room and our friends to the 21st, but somehow we wanted to visit the 33rd. But after thinking it over we were glad just to return.
This Bible verses continues to comfort me when I am weary: Psalm 4:8, “I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, Lord, only makes me dwell in safety. “

Monday, August 25, 2008

My Greatest Trip




Many have asked, “What has been your longest or greatest trip?”

Well, that is not hard for me to answer because, 50 years ago in February of 1958, I drove from my home in Jonesboro, Arkansas to Pocahontas to meet a young lady who I didn’t realize would change the course of my life for the next half century.

She and I both had been engaged to another before we had been introduced, but in God’s providence these were not His chosen mates for us.

We knew each other for only six months, a short period for the standards of that time, but long enough to know God had planned we make this trip together.

So, on August 18th of 2008, we celebrated privately our 50th wedding anniversary at our home in Farmington, Missouri. Health failure the last two and a half years made the trip a harder, but we are both rejoicing that our health is returning and we are so blessed to have met so many new friends and learn the value of good health and trusting in our divine One should He desire for us to go on home.

We do plan to have a public ceremony on Saturday October 4th at 2-4 p.m. with the renewing of our vows at our church and a time to meet our many friends in the fellowship hall. We personally invite you and our community friends.

So, 18,250 days, 438,000 hours, and 26,880,000 minutes with the same woman has been a real trip for us both. She has been referred to by my friends as a great woman! But she is more; she is a wonderful wife, mother, lady, minister’s wife, and Godly influence on all she meets.

Little did I dream two young kids would meet, fall in love, have the same goals and aspirations; be able to live together with the peace and joy we have experience. Only God in His plan could have brought two totally different personalities together.

In our many trips during the last 50 years, this has to have been our greatest trip and the others just side shows.

We are grateful for the thousands of friends we have made on the way in the many places we have lived or traveled. We rejoice for the many friends we have found in Farmington these last four years.

We took the follow Bible verses to heart and have lived by its precepts these 50 years.

Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.
For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the savior of the body.
Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.
Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.
For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:
For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.
For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.
This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband. -- Ephesians 5:22-33.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Where Christ was laid


WHAT I SHOULDN’T HAVE DONE HAS BLESSED ME

I have been to Israel a number of times, but on this particular trip as I visited the tomb where Christ was laid. However, this time I did something I shouldn’t have done.

The large group of people was being led through the area by a guide followed by the caretaker of the beautiful garden and tomb.

Not realizing I was in a restricted area, I saw the tomb was open so I walked through the garden into the tomb, which was a little larger that I suspected? Not seeing anyone to detour me, I walked in. Just to the left of the opening was a carved out area where Christ was supposed to have laid. Out of curiosity, I stepped over into the hewn out rock and lay down in it. My head and feet touched both ends of the place where He lay leaving me with the assumption that Christ was shorter than I am.

Leaving the tomb, I immediately faced the caretaker who was shouting at me with obvious anger, because I had invaded this hallowed place. Needless to say, my exit time exceeded my entrance as I hasten out of the garden. The sound of his voice did not subside until I was totally out of the gate of that protected area.

As I look back to this incident, I regret I had ventured into the tomb forbidden to everyone. While I didn’t know I was doing something wrong, I must admit it has been something I have cherished all my life.

The resurrection of our Lord is the most important fact to a world of people who believe in Christ, and the empty tomb represents a truth of a savior who lives.

John 19:41
“Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid.”

Matthew 27:58-60
“And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, And laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock: and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed.”

John 11:25
“Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:”

Monday, August 11, 2008

Giving never fails

Mom Lane Taught Me How to Live by Learning How to Give


As a paper boy I had collected $18.00 from my paper route and put my $1.80 tithe in my secret pocket. (I have always wondered why it was called a secret pocket, because I knew exactly where it was.)

The day after the conclusion of collecting was the Saturday shopping day in my home town. So I thought I would help my parents out by buying my school clothes for the coming year. My first purchase was three pairs of blue jeans. Then bought two shirts at another store. My money was growing scared as I walked in front of the local department store where I saw a beautiful blue shirt with white poke-a-dots.

The price at the base of the shirt advised me that I didn’t have enough to buy it….unless I went to the secret pocket. I went on for about a block then turned back to take a second look. As I turned to leave again, my feet seemed to head into the store and I did what I knew was wrong. Yes, a blue poke-a- dotted shirt went with me after taking 23 cents of God’s money out of my SECRET pocket.

The next day, I entered Sunday school with that new shirt and a pair of the jeans I had purchased. My guilt was surfacing as I immediately asked Mom Lane, my Sunday school teacher; “God doesn’t care if I use some of His money to get what I wanted. Does He?”

After more than 57 years I can still hear her reply, “Yes sir, He does care! Before this day is over something will happen to than shirt.” Well, I didn’t know she was also a prophetess. Mom Lane was three-fourth Indian and she was very versed in the Bible and truly believed it all. Besides she was our preacher’s wife and we felt she was as close to God as he was. So I always listened to her every word.

She invited all of her class to her house for an after church dinner. We boys headed for the field and a little creek grabbing all the little fish we could. Our shoes were wet, as were our jeans, when she rang the bell on her back porch.

We all began to run, when one of the fellows said “it is closer to the house if we go through the field.” That field was fenced in with barbed wire and we had to go through it twice before getting to her house. Do I have to tell you what happened to the back of a blue Poke-a-dotted shirt?

From that day on, I never took anything I knew was God’s. I was 13 on that day and I did not become a Christian until I was 17. But, I tithed four years before my salvation, because my Sunday school teacher instilled in me that everything was created by God for our betterment as we trust Him.

I believed it because I believed what she believed. Born in a log sharecroppers house with very little hope for a life beyond that area, I learned there was a better life and craved for it. I honestly believe that what she taught me as a lad has caused me to do things, and go places I would not have been given the opportunity. Since those days, I have published more than 750 articles in various forms and conducted over 1100 seminars in 48 states and 35 foreign countries and have been widely used as a Christian education consultant, workshop leader, or minister, by 68 denominations in churches of all sizes.

My convictions for a better life came from this precious lady. I am convinced what we are, and how we teach, does influence lives. Mom Lane still continues to teach me.

“Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them. Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the LORD of hosts. But ye said, Where in shall we return? Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Where in have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.” – Malachi 3:7-10.





Sunday, August 3, 2008

Great Preacher in a Great Church


FOR VERDICT

Services had just begun in the old famed Westminister Chapel on Buckingham Gate next to the Buckingham Palace where the Queen family lives much of the year near downtown London.

Every visit we have made to London we visit this church and have never gone but what we were blessed. The people were always friendly and welcomed us openly. It has always been a church for us to take spiritual refuge from our weary days.

On our last visit, my thoughts turned to the old greats who had pastored this church, which became a precious reminder of the gospel ministry in Great Britain. Such men as Martin Lloyd-Jones, G. Campbell Morgan, with R.T. Kendell, it’s recently retired pastor; thrilled me with the echoes of former sermons still seemed to bounce off the walls like vibrations trying to find a place to lie.

I could faintly hear Jones preaching from Ephesians or see Morgan in his Friday night teaching sessions. But one former pastor seemed to flood these out as I remembered John Henry Jowett. How could one church, or people, be so fortunate to have had such pastors? Generally only one area has had the opportunity to have a pastor of such fame. But in one church so many! How rare!

Jowett, like Morgan, was a Congregationalist and considered by his own generation to be the greatest preacher of his day. A strong believer in missions and Sunday schools he worked in every channel of church growth. I could see his work everywhere I turned, but remembered him most by one of his statements. "In all our preaching we must preach for verdicts. We must present our case. We must seek a verdict, and we must ask for an immediate execution of the verdict. Our ultimate object is to move the will, to set it on another course, to increase its pace, and to make it sing in the ways of God's commandments."

I conceded that day to his view, "To preach for verdict."

Very few verses in the Bible make a stronger cry for decision and change than the following: 2 Chron. 7:14, “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”




Monday, July 28, 2008

Where the famous are laid


Westminster Abbey-the place where the famous are laid to rest

I don’t believe I have ever been in London but what I would visit the famous Westminster Abby because of the uniqueness of the place.

Westminster Abbey presents a pageant of British history – the shrine of St. Edward the Confessor, the tombs of kings and queens, and countless memorials to the famous and the great. It has been the setting for every British Coronation since 1066. Today it is still a church dedicated to regular worship and to the celebration of great events in the life of the nation.

This church became known as the “west minster” to distinguish it from St. Paul’s Cathedral (the east minster) in the City of London. Unfortunately, when the new church was consecrated on 28 December 1065 the King was too ill to attend and died a few days later. His mortal remains were entombed in front of the High Altar.

Westminster Abbey is dedicated to St Peter. In 1540 Henry VIII had designated the Abbey a cathedral with its own bishop and diocese. However when the bishopric was dissolved in 1550 and the church made a second cathedral in the diocese of London some lands belonging to the church were exchanged or sold off. Some of this money was used for the repair of (old) St. Paul’s cathedral, hence taking funds from St. Peter’s church to pay St Paul’s cathedral. Hence the origin of the phrase, “robbing Peter to pay Paul.”

I have always been in awe with the many unusual buried designates. The reason is that the Abbey contains some 611 monuments which does not include the graves or memorial stones on the floor and wall tablets. It contains the most important collection of monumental sculpture anywhere in the country since well over three thousand people are buried there. Notable among these is the Unknown Warrior, whose grave, close to the west door, has become a place of pilgrimage. Over the exterior wall at the west door is the inscription, “MAY GOD GRANT TO THE LIVING GRACE TO THE DEPARTED REST TO THE CHURCH & THE WORLD PEACE AND CONCORD AND TO US SINNERS ETERNAL LIFE.”

Some of the more famous people buried in the Abbey are: Poets/writers: Geoffrey Chaucer, Edmund Spenser, John Dryden, Dr Samuel Johnson, Charles Dickens, Robert Browning, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Rudyard Kipling, John Masefield.
Scientists/engineers: Sir Isaac Newton, Thomas Telford, Charles Darwin, Lord Kelvin, Ernest Rutherford, Sir J.J.Thomson. Musicians: George Frederic Handel, Henry Purcell, John Blow, Ralph Vaughan Williams. Actors: David Garrick, Sir Henry Irving, Dame Sybil Thorndike, Laurence Olivier. Architects: Robert Adam, Sir William Chambers, Sir Charles Barry, Sir George Gilbert Scott, George Edmund Street, Sir Herbert Baker. Politicians: William Pitt Earl of Chatham, William Pitt the Younger, Charles James Fox, William Ewart Gladstone, Ernest Bevin, Clement Attlee. Military/Naval/RAF: Prince Rupert of the Rhine, Field Marshal George Wade, Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell, Admiral Thomas Cochrane, Lord Trenchard, Lord Dowding. Others: David Livingstone, Sir Rowland Hill, William Wilberforce, Baroness Burdett Coutts.

Still today, a daily pattern of worship is offered with services representative of a wide spread of interest and social concern, are held regularly. In 1965-66 the Abbey celebrated its 900th anniversary, taking as its theme ‘One People’. Such a theme seemed to be fitting for a church which, through a long history of involvement with the developing life of the British people, has become known throughout the world.

I have never yet been to the Abby but what I was able to sit and worship via a hymn or homily being given by a resident minister.

There are probably not many churches that enshrines as many as this one, but there is a place that will have a far greater number of noble people. They were probably not Kings or Queens or people of great position, but they will be esteemed above all but the name that is above every name.

“Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;” -- Philippians. 2:9-10



Sunday, July 20, 2008

ALL MY MUSIC TRAINING WAS WITH THEM

My remembrance of Rudiment Teachers

My family and background was of humble beginning with caring parents who attempted to direct my sister and me into things that would better us.

At times I wondered what would be the advantage or significance of some of those things. One such thing was attending gospel music rudiment schools that were conducted every year in our little church. Little did I know that the likes of some of these men would become famous as time would reward them.
Some of those rudiment teachers were men such as O.S. Sawrie, R. H. McNew, but those most known were Marvin P. Dalton who wrote two songs that today have filled churches throughout the country; namely, “O, What a Savior” and “Looking for a City.” Another was Luther G. Presley of Pangburn, Arkansas. No one would have dreamed that a local with Virgil O. Stamps would compose a famous melody in 1937 when Luther G. Presley penned the immortal lyrics at his rural Arkansas home in White County that would be sung around the English speaking world. Today anyone can sing a few lines of "When the Saints Go Marching In," or hum a few bars of the melody. Neither composer had the foggiest notion that their rousing, inspiring religious song would become a Dixieland standard - and later, the theme song of the New Orleans Saints football team. He received $5.00 for his lyrics, but that was only the beginning of royalty checks that have produced a good income continuing to this day.
A 1944 article in the Arkansas Democrat described Luther Presley as the state's most prolific songwriter. He composed the music or wrote the lyrics to hundreds of gospel songs - 1,500 or more.
His collection is now in the University of Central Arkansas where his daughter-in-law Cloie Presley, a county historian, was educated when the institution was still called Arkansas State Teachers College.
Leister Presley says his father also edited the gospel hit "The Great Speckled Bird," made famous by Roy Acuff at the Grand Ole Opry.
Luther Presley was born March 6, 1887, on Beckett Mountain in Faulkner County, five miles west of Rose Bud. He grew up with religious music at a Free Will Baptist church. At 14 he attended his first music school and began directing the church choir. He wrote his first song, "Gladly Sing," when he was 17.
A historical record from that church concerning a gospel meeting said of Mr. Presley. “Singer and well-known music composer Luther G. Presley conducted many of the song services during this session with such force that it touched the hearts and lives of all present. Preaching and singing held the congregation spellbound for three hours.”
Luther Presley's most famous song may have been "When the Saints Go Marching In," says Leister Presley, but his dad's favorite song was "I'd Rather Have Jesus" - composed after he had studied the parable of the rich man in the 12th chapter of Luke.
Besides Mr. Presley, I remember well the last teacher I will recall. He was Albert E. Brumley who wrote over 800 gospel and sentimental songs; Gospel Music Association named Mr. Brumley as one of only five persons in the United States whose contributions directly affected 20th century music; Brumley songs have been estimated to have been printed 15 million times in sheet music and songbooks; Brumley songs emulate country settings, ordinary country religion, simplicity and values--simplicity and naturalness was his music motto and philosophy. The Smithsonian Institute made a study of gospel music; researchers called Albert Brumley “the greatest white gospel songwriter before W.W.II.” Brumley music has been heard on practically every TV musical entertainment."

His education was little and his occupations consisted of being a cotton farmer,
piano tuner, singing school teacher, grocery store clerk, but became the author of I'll Fly Away which was published in 1932. In 1976 he received a trophy for "I'll Fly Away" as recognition of the song being the most recorded gospel song in history. In 1972 he was inducted into the SESAC Hall of Fame

He penned many other songs such as; Turn Your Radio On, I'll Meet You in the Morning, Jesus, Hold My Hand, If We Never Meet Again, I'm Bound For That City, I'd Rather Be An Old Time Christian, to name only a few that were recorded by the Chuck Wagon Gang, George Jones, Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Boston Pops Orchestra, Ray Stevens, Osborne Bros., Elvis Presley, Bill Monroe and countless others.

The history of this part of my past has been only a refection of my present – and the mirror of the future. The disdain I may have had as a teen is now a delight of what it influenced.

I did not realize at the time that these men were not only giving me something to live with, but they also gave me something to die with.

The third verse of Marvin Dalton’s famous song; “O What a Savior” says is best:

Death's chilly waters....I'll soon be crossing....
His hand will lead me safe o're..
I'll join the chorus....in that great city......
And sing up there forever more......

The Chorus:
O what a Savior....O hallelujah.....
His heart was broken on Calvary.....
His hands were nail scarred.......
His side was riven.....
He gave His life-blood for even me.....

And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the Lord. -- Psalm 40:3

Sunday, July 13, 2008

DON'T GET CAUGHT WITHOUT HIM

CLICK IT OR TICKET


On a recent trip to the new Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum in Springfield, Illinois, I kept noticing digital display signs on the interstate with the words Click it or Ticket. After a number of these, I was wondering what that meant, because up until then I had not read anything about this, until I returned back to Farmington and found an enlightening article about this new government safety program.

My enlightenment increases the next morning, when I had left my dentist and was short cutting through to Wal-Mart. Since this was a short distance, I convinced myself that I didn’t need to put on my seat belt. What a surprise when I entered onto a side street and advanced into a convoy of police cars that were stopping cars from both directions. The officer in a business like manner said, “We are promoting the Click it or ticket campaign and since you don’t have on your belt please pull over into the lot over there where an officer will explain your offense.”

My next surprise was that the officer was one of many that attend our church. He began with, “Dr. Loveless, I hate giving you this ticket, but this is the law!” “Don’t feel bad, I am guilty,”I responded. After which he told me where to go to pay the ticket.

Feeling a little sheepish about the whole thing, I drove into the City Hall parking lot, and then walked down the long hallway, which parallels the courtroom, then to the window where I presented my last ten dollar bill. Now my next surprise came as the clerk, a gracious lady, looked at my ticket and read my name with this conclusion. “Aren’t you the fellow who writes those religious human interest stories in the Farmington Press”? Blushing, I weakly said, “Yes, I am.” She then said, “I just love to read your stories.”

As I departed, my embarrassments of the day and seeing the courtroom disappear behind me, were nearly gone. I related this to the fact that I was able to pay the fine, and the facing of this matter with friends, was a lot easier than a sentence we all owe as we stand before a holy God, whose laws are much greater than those of men. My money cannot pay the price, or the good words of my friends. The Bible is full of verses that let us know that we owe a debt that we cannot pay.

Titus 3:5
“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;”

Only Christ can pay the redemption for a world that has broken the law of God. However, He loves us and has provided our way of escape.

John 3:16
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Now when I board my car – I click it! As for the other. I took care of that years ago as I gave my life to the greatest judge of all who said, “I forgive.”

Sunday, July 6, 2008

How Majestic is His Handiwork


The Wonder of His Handiwork was seen at the Matterhorn

We had traveled on the famous Swiss mountain railway from St. Moritz to Zermatt, a 7 ½ hour panoramic trip through the Alps in the heart of Switzerland. It is a railway journey across 291 bridges, through 91 tunnels and across the Oberalp Pass at 2’033 meters in altitude. The Glacier Express, as it is called, travels a beautiful route between the sights of the Graubünden holiday region, central Switzerland, including Lake Lucerne and Lucerne itself, the sunny Valais region with its glacier landscape, and the beautiful regions of the South. You travel in comfort through the unspoiled natural beauty of a landscape rich in ancient, fragrant mountain forests, peaceful Alpine meadows, rushing mountain streams and mountain valleys, soaked in tradition and centuries-old culture.

After arriving in Zermatt, which is a town without cars, we were told to take a cogwheel train, called the Gornergrat Bahn, which takes you from the village up to the top of the 9,000 feet high Gornergrat.

The next day we began through aromatic stone pine and larch forests and across alpine meadows full of flowers until you arrive in the midst of 29 snow and ice-covered four-thousand-meter-high mountains including such famous greats as the Matterhorn (4478 m), Liskamm (4527 m) and Dufour-Spitze (4634 m). With the sun to our back the Matterhorn was a photographer’s delight. Glaciers abounded and we had a marvelous view of one a couple thousand feet under us. On a culinary level, the Gornergrat offers everything you could wish for. The Kulmhotel Gornergrat, the highest hotel in Europe at 3131 meters (one yard and 3 inches to a meter), and other restaurants located along the route treat you to the very best food.

The Matterhorn is a classic peak, a sharp, isolated rock pyramid with steep narrow ridges jutting from surrounding glaciers. Located in the Pennine Alps it spreads beyond Switzerland into Italy, this beautiful mountain is near the town of Zermatt, which is nestled beneath the mountain's north face, and is a mountaineering Mecca. At an elevation 14,691 feet, the Matterhorn is one of the most frequently climbed mountains in the world.

This day was one of the most beautiful days on our trip and the sun was bright with puffy clouds and a deep blue sky making the photos beautiful. My lingering thought for days was how majestic the mountains all about that area as seen from such a vantage point. It was one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. Only one place will be greater.

“And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it.” - Isaiah 2:2