Wow!  It's been a long time since I have posted anything here!  So, just what have I been doing this summer?  Well, since returning from Arkansas in early June, I have spent several weeks on the farm, and over three weeks on the road singing with my family.  I have really enjoyed getting reacquainted with my family, after being away from them for a month!  Family is something that we tend to take for granted, until we are without it!  

       Anyway, I probably won't be posting much in the next two months- between working construction for a friend, spending time with my family in the evenings, and spending time with relatives and company on weekends, I will be fairly busy until September.  September contains Labor Day weekend, family camp, and a couple of trips.  Then come October and November, with long days in the field.  Also, practice for our church's Christmas play starts in November.  And December..... well, I'm sure I can find things to occupy my time then, too!  (Wow, I am becoming a pro at making excuses!  And that's not a good thing to be good at!)   

       Suffice to say, I probably won't be doing a post every day (or even every week) from now until the end of the year!  But I will try to post some pictures from time to time, in case you want to see what I'm up to!  May the Lord bless ya'll!

"Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen."  (Eph. 3:20-21)


Photos and Thoughts From the Ozarks

       Yesterday, Pastor Stanley and his wife took a group of us young people to the Ozark Folk Center in Mountain View, Arkansas.  We had a blast touring the different old-time shops, and seeing all kinds of neat things.  Pictured below are some highlights from the day.

The candle-shop

Trying out the different hats!

The print shop

A donkey-powered merry-go-round!

Phillip Robinson and I (Micah Robinson in the background)

I soooooo want one of these for my doorbell someday!  (P.S. The springs aren't connected, so it is totally safe!)

After leaving the Folk Center, we stopped at a country store; the pictures below were taken there.

 Baby "rattlers?"  Maybe baby "rattles" would be more accurate!

Here are the baby "rattlers"!

Man-Eating Chicken?

It turns out, the box contained a picture of a man who was eating chicken!  LOL!!!  (Sorry about the side-ways picture; I didn't think about the angle at the time!)
Playing and singing a song at the country store.

       These two pictures are from the pottery shop at the Folk Center.  I saved them for last because of what they reminded me of.  (It's kind of amazing, but I did manage to have a serious thought in the midst of all the fun and laughter we shared!)  As I stood there watching this lady form something beautiful from a lump of clay, I was reminded of the spiritual analogy; Christ is the potter, we are the clay.  

       Before the potter picks up the clay, the clay is worthless.  Paul says in Romans 7:18, "For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not."  Before Christ picks someone up, they are worthless.  Don't let the world deceive you by telling you what a good person you are; we are all filthy, rotten sinners on our own!  Ah, but when the Master Potter picks up the clay, regardless of what that clay looks like, it is valuable to Him.  Hey, when Jesus Christ saves a sinner, they may look worthless to the world, but they are precious to Him!  However, He doesn't want to leave the clay as He found it; He want's to create a beautiful vessel!  

       Now, we all want Christ to mold us into a beautiful vessel, but are we willing to endure the process that is required in order to become what He wants us to be?  Are we willing to, like the clay, be spun in circles and molded on a wheel?  Are we willing to go through the fire?  Are we willing to be painted or glazed just how the Potter wants?  Are we willing to then go through the fire again?

       It's very easy to pray, "Lord, please use me."  What we ought rather to pray is, "Lord, please make me useable.  Many Christians are unfit for the Master's use because they won't allow Him to make them useable.  Remember, God isn't looking for talented people.  Rather, He is looking for empty vessels- people who are willing to surrender ALL to Him so He can mold them into something that He can use.

"But now, O Lord, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand.  (Isaiah 64:8)


Photos From Sunday Evening

       Last Sunday, after the afternoon church service, I went to someone's house for their son's first birthday party.  Here are some pictures-

Playing volleyball

Watching the flight of the ball.

Jonathan Stanley, hitting the ball.

Michael Stanley preparing for a hit.

Me preparing to hit.

Cheering after a play.  (Either a good one on our team's part, or a bad one on the other team's part.  Either way, it was a good play!)

Is that ball ever coming down?

Here are some of the little tykes with Ivan, the birthday boy, who is trying out his new wheels!

 It looks like Ivan enjoyed his cake!  (And in more ways than one, if you know what I mean!)

       In addition to playing volleyball, we played catch with a football.  (It was more physical, though, than just "catch"!)  Plus, we roasted hotdogs and marsh-mellows.  I had a great time; everyone here at Friendship Baptist Church has been so friendly, and I am going to miss them a lot when I head home next week!


Memorial Day Photos

       Here are some pictures from Memorial Day-

The man in the wheel-chair is Mr. Richard Manning, a veteran of WWII.  In this picture, Mr. Manning is explaining to us what his medals signify; the second one from the left is a Purple Heart. 

I do not remember this gentleman's name, but he is also a WWII vet.  Meeting him and Mr. Manning has given me a greater appreciation for what our veterans have done; they were simply ordinary men, who chose to take a stand and to fight for the right.  These men, along with all of our troops today, are heroes; they deserve our respect and honor.

Standing next to this tank gave me more respect than ever for our troops.  War is no game; it's real and awful.  And yet, throughout our country's history, the American soldier has chosen to put his own life in danger, so that his fellow countrymen could live in peace and freedom.  That, folks, is sacrifice.

Here I am, shooting (or rather, attempting to shoot) clay pigeons.  I never did hit any!

Aaron Nyitrai, showing us how it is done.  He used to shoot clays at competitions, so he rarely misses!


Psalm 145

Psalm 145       
I will extol thee, my God, O king;
and I will bless thy name for ever and ever.
2 Every day will I bless thee;
and I will praise thy name for ever and ever.
3 Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised;
and his greatness is unsearchable.
4 One generation shall praise thy works to another,
and shall declare thy mighty acts.
5 I will speak of the glorious honour of thy majesty,
and of thy wondrous works.
6 And men shall speak of the might of thy terrible acts:
and I will declare thy greatness.
7 They shall abundantly utter the memory of thy great goodness,
and shall sing of thy righteousness.
8 The Lord is gracious, and full of compassion;
slow to anger, and of great mercy.
9 The Lord is good to all:
and his tender mercies are over all his works.
10 All thy works shall praise thee, O Lord;
and thy saints shall bless thee.
11 They shall speak of the glory of thy kingdom,
and talk of thy power;
12 to make known to the sons of men his mighty acts,
and the glorious majesty of his kingdom.
13 Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
and thy dominion endureth throughout all generations.
14 The Lord upholdeth all that fall,
and raiseth up all those that be bowed down.
15 The eyes of all wait upon thee;
and thou givest them their meat in due season.
16 Thou openest thine hand,
and satisfiest the desire of every living thing.
17 The Lord is righteous in all his ways,
and holy in all his works.
18 The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon him,
to all that call upon him in truth.
19 He will fulfil the desire of them that fear him:
he also will hear their cry, and will save them.
20 The Lord preserveth all them that love him:
but all the wicked will he destroy.
21 My mouth shall speak the praise of the Lord:
and let all flesh bless his holy name for ever and ever.

May this be the prayer of all of our hearts; may we praise the Lord continually for His grace and goodness to us; truly, His "greatness is unsearchable."


Memorial Day- Remembering the Fallen

       To some Americans, today is just another holiday.  Another day to take off work, go fishing, have a picnic, or spend time with family and friends.  Too often, we forget the countless multitudes who have sacrificed their lives so that we could have these blessings.  We have become so calloused in America; we take our freedom for granted.  We think that because we are born in a free country, we deserve freedom.  Folks, we don't deserve ANYTHING.  Everything we have is a gift from God, and the freedoms we enjoy every day are ours ONLY because of the multitudes of brave American soldiers who have given THEIR lives, so that we could live OUR lives in freedom.  We owe our fallen soldiers a debt of gratitude that we can never repay; let us then live our lives in the same way they lived theirs; let us live for others.
       As you and your family celebrate this Memorial day, remember this- there are some who will never again have their whole family together to celebrate ANY holiday, because someone in their family laid down their life so you could keep yours.  And to all of our military- we salute you this day for the sacrifice you have made; for the price you have paid.  To the rest of us- may we always remember and honor those who have sacrificed their lives so selflessly for us; may we always remember that freedom is NEVER free.

"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."  John 15:13


"How is it That Ye Have No Faith?" (Part Two)

       Love.  I truly believe that this is what the disciples were missing; they didn't understand God's love!  I John 4:18 says, "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love."  If "perfect love" casteth out fear, then what is perfect love?  Is it us loving God perfectly?  No, because I John 4:10 says, "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins."  

       What, then, is "perfect love"?  The answer is found in I John 4:16-17, which says, "And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.  Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world."  Verse 17 starts out by saying, "Herein is our love made perfect," thus referencing what has just been said in verse 16.  What does verse 16 say is the way to have "perfect love"?  It gives us three keys-

       #1.  We must KNOW God's love.  Think about it- no one ever experienced God's love without first KNOWING that it existed!  That may sound elementary, but it's true.  We can't be made perfect in God's love without first knowing that it exists.

       #2.  We must BELIEVE God's love.  Acts 16:31 says, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house."  No one can get saved without BELIEVING on Jesus Christ.  And why do we believe on Him for Salvation?  Because of the love that He poured out on Calvary!  If a person doesn't BELIEVE that Jesus loves them, then why would they trust Him for Salvation?

       #3.  We must DWELL in God's love.  I believe that this is where most Christians, including myself, fail.  We KNOW about the love of God, we BELIEVE in the love of God, and yet we often fail to DWELL in the love of God.  Dwelling in God's love is simply this - a conscious, continuous state of making God’s love our habitation.  Dwelling in God’s love is like dwelling in your house- you live there.  Dwelling in God's love is accepting the fact that God loves us so much that He has given us everything we need, and that He will take care of us in every situation.  Luke 12:6-7 says, “Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God?  But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows.”  What is Jesus saying in these verses?  Fear not, because God loves you!  

       Regardless of what we go through, God is in complete control.  If you are His child, then he has already promised to work everything out for your good (Romans 8:28).  He does ALL things well!  Do I fully understand why everything in my life happens the way it does?  No, I don't.  But when the  circumstances of life are beyond my control, I know that I can safely trust the Love of God!

Could we with ink the ocean fill,

And were the skies of parchment made,

Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade;
To write the love of God above
Would drain the ocean dry;
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.

Oh, love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure—
The saints’ and angels’ song.