Tuesday, March 31, 2009

What A Fellowship

We held our annual "Wild Game Dinner" at church Sunday evening, apart from all of the great food, we had a special speaker who brought a special guest.

Our speaker was Lowell Washburn, one of our own church members. Lowell works for the Iowa DNR and is an avid outdoors enthusiast as well as a Master Falconer. That fact brings me to his special guest, a live full grown Red-Tailed Hawk!

This Hawk was incredible! Lowell explained how years ago many referred to the Red Tail as the common "chicken hawk". Many of us see the hawks everyday as we travel, on the top of utility poles, dead trees (snags) and even on fence posts along the road. These hawks are woodland hunter, mainly subsisting on rabbits, squirrels and other smaller critters.

I got to have a very cool experience as I got to carry the Hawk into the church as we were setting up. I wore a leather glove and the hawk stood on my clenched fist. As I walked down the stairs to our fellowship hall, the hawk jumped off my hand! There was a leather strap that was connected to one of its feet that I held with my free hand. I simply put me gloved hand under its talons and it perched again on my hand and ARM! One set of talons on the glove and the other on my arm. The talons did not hurt me or break any skin but I could tell that without any real effort the hawk could easily pierce my arm to the bone! It was scary & really cool!

Following the hawk talk (a little Iowa Football lingo there) Lowell gave a very interesting talk of the different nesting habits of bird native to North Iowa. Now I know that your thinking "a talk about bird nests, are you kidding me" but it was truly fascinating. From eagles to yellow headed black birds to duck, geese and robins. All during his talk, Lowell made references to the handiwork of God and the brilliance of His creation. Overall, it was a great presentation and everyone seemed to enjoy it!

Following Lowell's presentation I had asked the Nichols family to bring there Science Fair project to the church to let every one see their version of the Ruben's Tube - a fire based tube. It's kind of complicated to explain so I'm going to let the Myth Busters do it for me!

On the video, the guys used solid tones, the Nichols used actual musical pieces such as "Taps". The result was fascinating! I even got a chance to use my iPod and play some Jazz which looked really cool as well! One person noted that it was amazing that God created our ears to work in the same manor. Sound waves impact our tympanic membrane (eardrum)and are then sent to the inner ear where the waves are translated back into sounds that we hear. WOW!

Thanks to Lowell and the Nichols family for making our evening incredible as we celebrated the world around us that God has allow us to enjoy and learn from!

I can not wait to see what happens next week around our church!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Sunrise vs. Sunset

This morning I saw an incredible sunrise!

To the East there was a bank of very dark clouds that seem to cover the sky all the way to the horizon. As the sun began to rise there was just a sliver of light squeezing between the earth and clouds. What transpired was a brilliant red, it looked as if there was a huge fire on the horizon. It only lasted a few minute and then sliding behind the cloud bank. And it was over and done!

When talking to a friend who saw the same thing, he asked the question: Why is it people always talk about great sunsets and not so often about great sunrises?

The answer is easy ... Most people will not get up early enough to see a sunrise!

In my experience the ones who talk about sunrises are hunter and sometimes farmers.

At least that is how I see it!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Watching High School Girls Track History

I had the opportunity to drive the Ventura Girls Track team to Cedar Falls, Iowa for an indoor track meet held on the campus of the University on Northern Iowa in the UNI Dome.

While there I was able to watch this happen live:

Video was remove because it was irritating! It started automatically every time you opened the blog!

What you don't learn from the interview that was mentioned by the Dome's announcer was that when you add in all of the collegiate and professional women track athletes, she ranks #10 in the nation!

Congratulation to Hanna Wilms!

What a cool opportunity to see a little history being made!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Nothing To Do & All Day To Do It!

This is for my Big Bro who is retired in Florida and lovin' the good life!!!

You may need to double click on the photo to be able to read it. PSC

Monday, March 23, 2009

Timothy Retreat 2009

I had the opportunity to attend the Timothy Retreat at the Iowa Regular Baptist Camp on March 20-21. There were around 16 young men that believed that they are headed to full-time ministry or were very open to the possibility of heading into full-time ministry.

Our speaker for the retreat was David Whitcher, who began by challenging us to a commitment to the sufficiency of scripture on Friday evening. On Saturday he walked the guys through the rules of interpretation and then the process of crafting a sermon which concluded with the guy putting together their first sermon outlines. The two guy from our church did a great job & I was very proud of them.

I am convinced that the ministry to which I have been called is the greatest calling in this world. Get this...I get to study God's Word, the Bible, craft sermons and get to preach them to folks who are truly desiring to know God better and live lives pleasing to Him. Do one on one counseling/discipleship and watch as God through His Holy Spirit work in and change them into the image/likeness of Jesus Christ their Savior! On top of all of that I get paid for it!

To quote Paul in writing to his son in the faith: "And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry, although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man; but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant, with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen."
1 Timothy 1:12-17

PS...My life verse is 1 Timothy 1:16

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Talents For Christ Entrys

Amanda Stephenson, a teen in our church, is participating in "Talents For Christ". TFC is a program to challenge students who are actively involved in General Association of Regular Baptist Churches to develop their God-given talents for ministry within their local churches and to honor those who demonstrate exceptional preparation and skill. Amanda has chosen to enter in the area of writing. As part of her requirements, she must put his articles somewhere so that people may have access to them and be able to read them. She has asked me to post them for her.

Journey to My Fathers House

A sudden jolt brought me back to reality as we sped down the crooked road. I shook myself out of the daze I had been in for the last several hours and looked around at a country I had come to love. It was nearing the end of my stay in India and I was now on my way homeward. It would only be a few more short hours before I left India and my mind had begun to wander as I remembered the events that had taken place in the last month of my life that God has used to pull me closer to Him, change the way I see His creation, and help me to love more deeply then I ever had before.

My trip had begun back home in Iowa where I grew up. At a young age I felt the Lord calling me into the ministry, so I was overjoyed when the Reverend Nightingale and his wife Sharon were gracious enough to allow me to come along with them to India. We left together from the U.S.A. and after a short layover in Amsterdam, we landed in Hyderabad, India. No words can describe the wonder in my heart as I stepped off the plane. This was the moment I had only dreamed of experiencing and it had now become reality.

It was about 4.30 in the morning when we arrived in Hyderabad, India, and our arrival was being eagerly anticipated by a young Indian pastor and His growing family. As we stepped out into the humid night air, we were warmly greeted by huge smiles and monstrous garlands of jasmine flowers woven tightly together. The fragrance was stifling but was drowned out by the sights and sounds that soon surrounded me. As we traveled through the smoky streets to our hostel, my eyes were met by images I had never imagined or seen in any painting or photograph. Houses, made of cardboard and blue tarps, lined the streets. Temples to their numerous gods were everywhere to be seen and as we pulled up to the hostel where we were to spend the night I noticed that the streets were being swept by elderly women who were then burning the piles of rubbish that was creating the smoky atmosphere. This was my first impression of India, the place where I would willingly spend the life God has so graciously given me.

After a few weeks of traveling to small churches and ministering to them, I found myself at a small but quickly growing orphanage in Tandure just 15 minutes west of Munchereal. When we arrived, the children there greeted us with beautiful flowers and shy smiles, but they were soon at perfect ease; each fighting for attention from the ladies with the cameras. Each child was different, but every one of them was thirsty for attention and love. My heart continues to ache for them knowing the past from which some of them have escaped. As our time there progressed, I spent more time with the younger children and infants and was blessed more than I can say by every moment I was with each treasured child. One day. As I stepped into the cement room that was used as the nursery, I was greeted by quite a comical sight. One of the young women who lived at the orphanage was smearing baby powder all over little Elijah’s face. I never actually found out exactly why they do that, but I will forever remember his adorable ghostlike face smiling up at me.

One of the first things I tell people when they ask me, “What was your favorite part?” is that there is no favorite part. There were wonderful times and also times that were incredibly hard for me, but without the hard days the trip would have been incomplete and I would not have grown nearly as much in my faith as I was able. I praise the Lord for the amazing ways He worked in my life and how He drew me closer to Himself through the wonderful and difficult times.

Something specifically that had a huge influence on my life is the suffering that surrounded me every day. There are over one billion people living in India today and although it has 15% of the world’s population, India makes up a mere 2.4% of the world’s land area. There is not enough food, room, or money, which leads to an amazing amount of homeless families and children. I was constantly reminded of this and being around it every day changed the way I look at my life and the lives of others. It helped me realize what really is important, or rather the things that should be important to me. I will never forget the sight of a young girl, maybe 9 years old, making her way through the streets of Bangalore using her arms to walk. She had only one leg and it was most likely a family member who was responsible for the removal of her other leg, so that she would bring in more money as a beggar. Almost everywhere I went I was constantly seeing young women and girls carrying infants half starved, begging for money and food to support a family with a father who wouldn’t work. It was things like this that opened my eyes and helped me understand how awful this world has become, and how much there is to do for the cause of Christ.

As I remember the events that came to pass during that short time, it is sometimes hard to see where God would have me in His wonderful plan. All I can do is serve Him to the best of my ability where He has placed me here and now. Many of us tend to try to skip ahead and get to the part where God reveals His will for our life. He then pulls us back and gently reminds us that He is in control. Whether the road be crooked or straight, here or there, it is up to each of us to serve the Lord where He has placed us.

True Healing

Feature Article

When looking around at this world and what it has become, the first thing many of us see is a loss of God in our society. When we put this together with the desire for scientific and medical advancements, and millions of people with great emotional need, the result is a corrupt, self-pitying generation that is relying on what the world has to offer in place of turning to God. Taking a closer look at some specific areas in which we turn to the world for help in place of God, we will see how these decisions can affect us and the results of choosing self over God. This can help us better understand and avoid these mistakes.

Each of us wants comfort and security; we want to feel good. There are many things that can keep us from achieving this. The world believes that our happiness is based on the circumstances surrounding us. Believing this can be the basis of our unhappiness. When we experience the loss of a family member or close friend, maybe the knowledge that the body God gave us is deteriorating and that we may not live to see tomorrow is overwhelming. We may begin to feel like we are all alone in this world and nobody really cares. Sometimes these feelings intensify and we are overwhelmed with a sense of utter desolation and loss. The world has come to refer to it as a condition known as depression.

The world says that since you are depressed you need a prescription to make you “feel” better. I like to think of feeling as something you do with your fingers. As a society we focus on our feelings far too much and when this happens, we lose sight of what God might be trying to show us. Our feelings are what we make them. We make the choice to feel angry or sad. We make the choice to let it sit and fester. When this happens we allow our feelings to control us. Being controlled by our feelings is a dangerous place to be because we have lost sight of God and our tendency then is to turn to the world and its answers in place of God’s Word. If we allow our feelings to control us, we are making decisions based on those feelings and not on God’s Word.

In the medical community depression is considered a disorder because of the imbalance of serotonin, a biogenic amine which is found in specific brain structures. However, according to the Comprehensive Textbook of Psychiatry, there is no proven imbalance and no medication has been proven to change the amount of serotonin in the brain, meaning our mood is not affected by a physical change. Depression is simply the side affects of our emotions getting out of hand. There is no depression virus or bacteria that can be detected. In contrast, according to McMan’s Depression and Bipolar Web, “when treating depression, it is all about treating the symptoms rather than the underlying disease.” The medical community has not even come to an agreement amongst themselves that there is any physical anomaly leading to depression.

There is nothing wrong with most medications unless taken unnecessarily or excessively, but when dealing with conditions like depression and unhappiness we often fail to see that a prescription will not solve the problem. It’s easy to cover up the side affects of depression. All we have to do is go to the doctor and get something to change the way we feel. A problem with this though is that we cannot cover up our issues forever. When my sister was younger, she broke her arm falling down the stairs. Now the doctor could have simply pumped her full of morphine and she would have felt fine, but the problem would not have been fixed. She needed the bone to be set and a cast applied for the bone to heal correctly. There are times of extreme crisis in which lessening the symptoms may be helpful in dealing with the underlying issues. This is true in any instance. For example, the process of setting a broken arm is painful so it may be helpful to ease the pain to a certain extent before setting the bone, but the bone must be set in order for it to heal completely. Like this, issues of the heart cannot be simply covered up with drugs. The core of the problem must be dealt with correctly and given time to heal properly. The only thing that can really accomplish this is having our hearts centered on God, not ourselves, and trusting Him to take care of our needs because He loves and cares about us.

The core of our problems boils down to the heart. The most important thing is that we know Him as our Lord and Savior. Only then can we rely on Him for strength. In Hebrews 4:12 God tells us that He knows our hearts and His word is powerful enough to deal with every issue of our heart. Trusting God can be hard. We may not see immediate results and the road may be rough, but keeping our hopes on Him as our perfect physician is our only hope for true healing. The world offers to fix our problems now through medication and things that we can buy to make us “happy.” These things are superficial, not giving lasting joy; the joy that can only come from trusting God. We want the pain to be gone, so out of desperation we turn to what seems like the easiest road available. James 1:2-4, 12 talks about how hard times can bring us closer to God and make us stronger. This can only happen if we choose to turn to God for healing. This process of healing is not easy or simple. We must be constantly, day by day, moment by moment, saturating our minds in God’s Word by finding specific passages that focus our attention on God and His strength in overcoming our weakness.

What the world has to offer often seems real because we can touch it and see it, but these things never last unless they are of God. We must remember to keep the focus on God, rely on Him for our strength, and fill our minds with His word. Settling for anything this world can offer for temporary comfort can not replace the peace and joy that only comes from God.

Kaplan and Sadock. Comprehensive Textbook of Psychiatry. Sixth Edition, 1997
McMan. McMan’s Depression and Bipolar Web. February 3, 2005. Pg. 6. www.mcmanweb.com

Thursday, March 12, 2009


Most everyone who lives in the upper middle of the country have a pretty good handle on what a sun dog looks like. For thoose of you who are not familiar with this term, here is a definition and picture:

From Wikipedia - A sun dog or sundog "parhelion", plural "parhelia", for "beside the sun" is a common bright circular spot on a solar Halo (optical phenomenon). It is an atmospheric optical phenomenon primarily associated with the reflection or refraction of sunlight by small ice crystals making up cirrus or cirrostratus clouds. Often, two sun dogs can be seen (one on each side of the sun) simultaneously.With all of that said, the other morning, at about 6 AM, with the temp just below O degrees I was driving to the west and the moon was brilliantly illuminated and I saw a moondog! One on each side at equal distance, just like the sundog but reflecting the light of the moon.

Having never seen or even heard of this phenomenon so I went to the internet and could not find any information of this type of phenomenon in relation to the moon. It was areally cool experience!

God's creation is incredible!

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Lazy Saturday Morning

Sometimes it is good to just finally have a day come up in your schedule where you can just take at least a morning and relax.

Last evening Nick Oliver came up for an overnight visit. Its been a while since he's been able to get away because he is now the assistant Pastor at the Fellowship Baptist Church in Des Moines & has a "friend" who he would rather spend time with than the Cox's...Go Figure!

We had burger on the grill for supper and a huge salad with tons of veggies. It was great!

This morning everyone slept in ... for me that means I got up around 7:30am . When you normally bust out a 5:15am, 7:30 seems like noon!

After everyone got up I cooked a bacon, eggs and toast breakfast that seemed to go over huge. Then Susan made a cherry cobbler. That girl ROCKS! She is a keeper!

Warm cobbler, ice cream & coffee.

What a great day!

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Ventura Goes To State

Ventura Community High School boy's basketball team is going to the Sate Tournament!

Following a 46-40 win last Monday evening over Colo-Nesco in Fort Dodge, the Ventura Vikings earned the first ever trip to the Big Dance!
Ventura is scheduled to play Monday afternoon (2:00) in Des Moines Wells Fargo Arena. Their first round opponent will be Iowa Mennonite-Kalona the #2 seed with a record of 24 wins/1 loss on the season. Ventura enters the game with a record of 21 wins and 3 losses on the season.

Hoping Ventura stands strong at state!!!!