Monthly Archives: September 2010

Vacation 2010 – Day 23

Spent the night at Sharla’s dad’s house – no internet, so I couldn’t update the blog last night.

Yesterday was pretty uneventful.  We left Gallup, New Mexico at about 9 a.m. and headed east.  Arrived in Apache Junction, about 30 east of Phoenix, at about 3 p.m.  Uneventful trip, but lots of beautiful scenery.  I didn’t realize that the whole center section of Arizona is mountains and forests.  As we got lower toward Phoenix, the evergreens transitioned to cactus!  Very interesting.

We spent the evening last night showing Floyd and Margaret the pictures from the trip so far.  They really enjoyed it.  We were all in bed by 9, and up at 6 this morning.  Floyd and Margaret took us out to Village in for Breakfast.  As we were leaving we noticed a spot of fresh oil under the car!  As we were gassing up to leave Oklahoma City a couple of days ago, I tried to check the oil, but when I pulled on the dipstick, the whole top came off in my hand.  The oil had been fine a few days before, so we just moved on.  But with an oil spot under the car, I wasn’t sure how our oil level was.  Over breakfast we discussed the situation, and figured that the best bet would be to take it in to the local Ford dealer to see if they could get the dipstick out.

It took 2 hours, but they finally were able to drill a hole in the top of the dipstick and pull it out.  It cost just over $100, but if they had had to replace the whole metal piece it would have been over $400!  So we left, praising the Lord, and only and hour and a half behind schedule.

Sharla and I decided to stop by the Grand Canyon for a couple of hours, since our route took us through Flagstaff, which is only about 45 minutes south of the east entrance.  We drove through a lot of mountainous high-desert type of terrain, and arrived at the East Entrance at 3:30.  We spent time at both the east side and west side, skipping the viewpoints in the middle this time around.  We left the park just after dark and headed west.  Tonight we are spending the night in Boulder City, just west of Hoover Dam.  Tomorrow we are headed to Fallon, Nevada to see my aunt, uncle, and cousins.

Good night and God bless!

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Vacation 2010 – Day 22

Today was a LOOOOOONG driving day.  We left Oklahoma City at about 9 a.m. Central time and headed due west.  I have spent a lot of time in OKC over the years, because that is where the FAA Academy is located.  If you add up all the time I spent there, it totals almost a whole years, and covers all four seasons (Summer, fall, winter, and tornado).  But I have never really been to the west of OKC, so from there all the way to here was a new experience for me.  Sharla had been in Albequerque for bowling several years ago, but it was a fly in – fly out kind of thing, so she got to see a whole lot of new territory, too.

Western Oklahoma and northern Texas look a whole lot alike: rolling hills, lots of green grass, and rivers with lots of red clay in the bottoms.  Also across northern Texas we were surprised to see cornfields (all dry and ready to harvest), and cotton fields, with lots of little white bolls.  Neither one of us really thought of Texas as a cotton producer!  We ate lunch outside of Amarillo and headed on west.

When we entered New Mexico, we picked up an hour, since it is in the Mountain Time Zone.  Lots of very pretty terrain, with mesas, gulches, and lots and lots of juniper-covered mountains.  We noticed at one point that we were at 4600 feet above sea level, without ever really being aware that we were climing that far – just lots of ups and downs, but apparently the ups were higher than the downs were!  Before long we were all the way up at over 6000 feet!

We got to Gallup just after sunset (8 p.m. local time) and decided to call it a day (that’s 12 hours on the road, and we are both pretty wasted!)  We are just 16 miles from Arizona, and about 4 1/2 hours from Sharla’s dad’s house.

Good night and God bless.

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Vacation 2010 – Day 21

Wonderful church service this morning at Central Church in Lenexa, Kansas.  We met Becky Nichols there.  After the services she showed us around the building which is HUGE.  They have an average attendance of around 600 in two services.  After that she drove us to the new World Ministry Center, which is beautiful.  It being Sunday we couldn’t get in for a tour, but we took some pictures of the outside.  We then had some good Mexican food for lunch, and watched part of the Kansas City New York football game.  (KC was ahead, and the crowd at the restaurant was very excited!)

We left Lenexa at about 3:00 headed for Oklahoma City, and arrived at about 8:30.  I wanted to take Sharla to my favorite steak place (called Cimarron).  These Oklahomans really know how to cook a cow – open fire mesquite grill.  It turned out to be just as good as I remembered it.  We capped it off by sharing a warm apple cobbler a la mode.  Delicious!  (We’ll be back to counting calories when we get home!)

We’re in for the night here in OKC.  The plan is to head out bright and early for a 10-hour drive west.  We should make it through Texas and most or all the way through New Mexico, and be on track for Phoenix mid-day on Tuesday to see Sharla’s dad.

Good night and God bless.

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Vacation 2010 – Day 20

God granted Sharla and I an extra hour and a half sleep this morning, by apparently keeping my alarm from going off.  We were scheduled to call her sister, Lois, when we were up and ready to go (about 8), so we could plan breakfast.  But all of a sudden I woke up to my watch saying 9!  Before we could get ourselves ready, Lois called, and they agreed to meet us in the parking lot at about 9:30.  We were packed and out of the door in record time, just to have them pull up as we approached the car.  We packed the car up (also in a record 15  minutes!), and were off to “brunch” at the Cracker Barrel in Cape Girardeau, Missouri.  Cape Girardeau’s biggest claim to fame is that it is the hometown of Rush Limbaugh.

After a wonderful brunch (I had the apple strusel french toast!), we said good bye, and headed north to St. Louis.  We didn’t have to look to hard to see the Gateway Arch, because it is HUGE.  We actually saw it about 9 miles out.  It stands 630 feet above the ground, which makes it the tallest thing in the city.  After passing through the metal detectors, we got our tickets for the 2:55 p.m. “Tour to the Top.”  We had about 25 minutes to wait, so we took a look around the lobby.  It is an amazing place.  In addition to the typical information centers, there is museum of westward expansion, a gift shop, a general store, and two theaters.  We had limited time, so we decided to take a quick look at the museum.

I must say that this museum blew me away!  It is extremely well done, with audioanimatronic figures that talk about life in the west, as well as numerous very well put together displays.  We only were able to see a couple of things, and then we were off for our trip to the top!

First they divided us up into groups of 5 or less by handing us a big card with a number on it.  We were “White 2.”  Then we stood in line for about 10 minutes waiting our turn.  When our time finally came, we were let through a turnstile, past a photographer who snapped a picture of the two of us for a souvenir (which we didn’t buy), and into another waiting area.  This one, however, was a little more interesting:  it had lots of old stuff to look at that had to do with the early days of St. Louis.  After about 10 minutes there, we were called by number and taken down a flight of stairs, with 8 stations on it.  We stood at station number 2.  We were shown a short video about our trip to the top, and then the doors opened, and people coming down from the top got out of the tram cars to make room for us.

The tram cars are very small.  They are about four feet in diameter, with five small stools in them.  You have to stoop down to get in, and then stay stooped over while you sit in your seat.  Even while you are sitting down you still have to stoop a bit.  It’s no place for someone with bad claustrophobia!  We shared the car with a family of three, and it was TIGHT!  We were good friends by the time we reached the top!  After we are all in, the doors close, and the tram takes off.  It goes up the steeply sloped legs of the arch, going about 10 feet, with the car starting to lean to one side, and then the car kind of clicks over to level again until the next 10 feet are traversed.  So we slope and click level all the way up to the top, which takes about 3 1/2 minutes.

At the top, the doors open, and we crawl out (other people are standing there waiting for us to get out so that they can get in to go down).  And then we climb one more flight of stairs to the very top.  The top of the arch is small (about 8 feet wide and tall, and about 30 feet long), with small (18 inches wide by 8 inches tall) windows on both sides.  You can lean way over and look out and down, because the windows are on the slanted sides of the arch.  I took quite a few pictures out the windows, and then made the mistake of leaning way over and looking down.  You can see the bottom of the floor that you are standing on, and then see that there is absolutely nothing underneath you for 630 feet straight down!  My acrophobia really kicked into high gear, and I had to step back from the windows and reason with myself for a minute or so.  Then I was fine again.

After about 10 minutes or so, we both had our eyes full of the sights, so we wandered back down.  We were given a car number and walked down the steps to our spot.  Just as we got there, the tram arrived from down below, disgorging its riders, and opening up the very small space for us to get in.  On the trip down we had the car to ourselves.  The trip down is a little quicker than the trip up, so after only about 3 minutes of sloping and clicking, we were back on the ground safe and sound.

We then went back to the museum to look at the displays that we hadn’t had a chance to see earlier.  After about an hour, we figured that we would have to hit the road.

Our trip to Lenexa, Kansas (a suburb of Kansas City, where our new World Headquarters building is located) was kind of intense!  We drove through about an hour of some of the heaviest rain that I can recall driving through in quite a while.  Thankfully it moved south and the last hour or so was much more pleasant.  We are in our hotel for the night (trying to get our laundry done before bed).  Tomorrow we will be attending Central Church of the Nazarene with Becky Nichols (Walt and Phillis’ daughter) and going to lunch with her.  After that, we are going to try to make Oklahoma City for the night.

Good night and God bless.

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Vacation 2010 – Day 19

We left our motel near Hebron, Kentucky (a VERY nice place!), and headed southwest.  Our goal for today was to get to Sikeston, Missouri, where Sharla’s sister, Lois, lives, by way of Mammoth Caves, Kentucky.  Sharla had been to Mammoth Caves once before, and wanted me to see it.

Mammoth Caves is an amazing place.  In 49 square miles there are nearly 400 miles of caves, all interconnected.  The guide described it like a big bowl of spaghetti, with one 400 mile long strand.  The park was offering at least 6 different tours, all of them from different starting points and ending up at different places.  Last time Sharla went on the Historical Tour, which includes a lot of the caves where the Union soldiers did some mining during the Civil War, and a lot of old mining equipment, etc.  We decided to do the New Entrance Tour, which includes some of the cave formations.

The New Entrance was established by a man who was trying to find a cave near Mammoth Caves to make some money.  He bought up property adjacent to the caves and then went and asked the locals if there was any place there where they had felt “cool air,” which could indicate a cave.  He found some cool air in a little dip and threw a stick of dynomite nearby, blowing a hole that opened into the cave.  In order to get into the cave these days, you have to climb down 280 stairs, a total of 250 feet.  The descent goes across great, deep chasms and squeezes between rocks.  After this gentleman had first opened the hole, he called his nephew and had him climb down on a rope.  He got to the end of the rope, but there was still a lot longer down.  Next day he came back with a longer rope, and still ran out of rope.  Each day he brought back a longer rope, and after about 5 days he finally reached the bottom and had a look around.  He reported back to his uncle that there was definitely a good, money-making cave down there.

After he got the cave prepped for visitors, he still had to get people to come to his cave.  He would station a guy at the fork in the road that went on to Mammoth Caves, who would tell them that there had been a cave-in in Mammoth Caves, or that the lodge up there had burned to the ground, but that was okay, because there was a really good cave just down this road.  That actually worked for a while!  After a while it was found that this cave was actually part of the Mammoth Caves complex, and it was incorporated into the National Park.

When we came out of the caves, it had started raining.  By the time the bus got about halfway back to the parking lot, it was raining hard.  By the time to bus stopped and it was time to go to our car, it was POURING!!!  We both got soaked getting to the car.  Thunder and lightining, too!

We headed to Sikeston.  The rain let up about 50 miles east, and we had mostly cloudy skies the rest of the way.  Oh, and a gorgeous sunset!  We are now holed up in the local Super 8, and will meet Lois and her husband tomorrow for breakfast, before heading to St. Louis.

Good night and God bless.

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Vacation 2010 – Day 18

I didn’t get the blog updated yesterday, because we got in at midnight, and were both totally wasted!

Yesterday we had a half-day of speakers, and then were at the Creation Museum again for about 4 hours.  After dinner, we went back for a special after-hours star-gazer night with Dr. Jason Lisle, who is the most intelligent guy I have ever met, but is just as nice as you could ever imagine a person to be.  He graduated from his doctorate program in astrophysics summa cum laude (stratight A’s!).  He had three HUGE telescopes set up, and kept moving them around to different things in the night skies.  It rained earlier, but started to clear off.  About 75 people signed up for this, and we all lined up at one telescope after another looking at binary stars, globular clusters, etc.  Then he set two telescopes up on Jupiter.  I had never seen Jupiter through a telescope before.  It was magnificent, and you could see all four of the earth-visible moons lined up, two on each side.  Dr. Lisle said that the closest moon on the right, Io, would actually pass in front of Jupiter a little later in the evening.

After about an hour there were only about 30 people left, and after another hour only about 10 of us.  (It was a warm, humid evening, so I think the rest just got tired!)  Dr. Lisle trained one of the telescopes on Uranus, and the other on Neptune, neither one of which is visible to the naked eye.  Both are a gorgeous blue color.  At about 15 past 11 we all looked at Jupiter.  Io had disappeared, but we could see a small black circle (Io’s shadow) moving across the face of the planet.  Spectacular!  Dr. Lisle had one more thing for us to see:  he trained the medium telescope on Jupiter again, and got Uranus at the same time.  This is the only time that they will be close enough to get into the same field of view in a telescope for the next 15 years!

Today lots of additional speakers on all kinds of topics.  There’s just too much to share, so I’ll have to do it in person when we get back.  The upshot of the whole conference is that it’s not about the age of the earth, it’s all about the authority of Scripture.  And that the Bible needs to be our source of truth in ALL areas of our lives, because it is the inspired Word of God, and anything else is only man’s fallible opinion!

Tomorrow we start for home.  We will be stopping for a tour of Mammoth Caves here in Kentucky, and then heading into southeast Missouri to visit with Sharla’s sister.

Good night and God bless.

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Vacation 2010 – Day 16

Day one of the Answers for Pastors Seminar.  Very, very good!

We got to the church where the seminar is being held WAY early.  Planned a 30 minute commute from the motel, and it turned out to be 8!  Even though there was a lot of rush-hour style traffic, it turns out that we tended to get onto each freeway into the lane that exits next, so we just kind of shot past everyone else.

First up was Ken Ham, who talked about the importance of reading the Bible, including the first 11 chapters of Genesis, the way that God wrote them.  He actually wrote them as history, to be read the way that any other history is read.  There are so many grammatical and literary markers that point this out.  Each of the six days of creation is designed to be read as a literal 24-hour day.  No matter what problems we may have with that because of what we believe that science has “proven” doesn’t change the fact that that’s what the word for day means in that particular context.  In addition, Moses and Jesus (as well as several of the New Testament writers) believed that each day was a literal 24-hour day.  If we give up this ground by discounting the Word of God and put in its place the philosophies of man, we are just as bad as the Israelites who turned away from God’s promise to help them to take the land, and instead listened to most of the spies who told them that it couldn’t be done.  When all is said and done, I would rather be in the minority like Caleb and Joshua (who got to go into the land and receive a share of it later) than to be in the majority like the other 10 spies, who died on the spot, and who ended up misleading the whole people so that they all ended up dying in the desert!

Next we heard from Dr. John Whitcomb, the co-author of the first real “creationist” book, “The Genesis Flood.”  He is an amazing speaker.  He talked about the flood and about the final judgment.  One of the things that he said that really stuck with me is that, in doing His work through us, God won’t do the parts that we can do; he will leave those for us, and tell us what to do.  But in those areas that we can’t do the work, He will do it.  In the flood, for example, He gave Noah instructions to do the building of the boat, because that was something that Noah could accomplish, even if it did take many years.   But Noah didn’t have the wherewithal to go out and get two of every kind of animal, so God sent the animals that He selected to Noah (Genesis 6:20).  Jesus did the same thing in the raising of Lazarus (John 11).  He gave instructions to roll the stone away from the tomb, because the people could do that part.  After Lazarus was raised, He told the people to help him out of his grave clothes, because they could do that part.  The only part that Jesus did Himself was the one thing the people couldn’t do, and that was raising Lazarus from the dead by calling his name.

After Lunch, Sharla and I were split up into the pastor’s group and the pastors wives group.  The pastors heard from Dr. Dave Menton, who talked about what to do with the whole Intelligent Design Movement that states that there must be a designer of the complex structures in living organisms, but steadfastly refuses to name the Designer.  They will tell you that it could be an extraterrestrial, or a universal force (and they wouldn’t even close the door to the idea that it was one of the ancient Greek gods!).  Dr. Menton’s point is that Intelligent Design is unnecessary.  He is an anatomist who trains doctors in anatomy.  He has dissected many many corpses and knows how our bodies work from the womb to the grave.  He was asked if there were any structures in the human body that look like they were intentionally designed, and his answer was, “DUH!”  EVERY structure has the marks of intentional design all over them.  And he believes the Bible that tells us that God Himself is the designer of all life.

Next, Dr. Tommy Mitchell talked about what the Bible says about tragedy.  He has gone through quite a bit of tragedy in his own life and, as a doctor, has had to deliver bad news to patients and their family members a lot.  The thing is, all of the questions about why God allows bad things to happen can be summed up in one word:  Sin.  Sin, all the way from the very first sin of Adam down to the sins of ourselves and our neighbors, add up to a broken world that is very different from the created world that God said was “very good.”  And in this broken world, disease and death and suffering are a natural consequence of that brokenness.  And sometimes nice people are hurt by the sinfulness of those around them, such as when someone decides to rob them at gunpoint or to drink and drive.  But the answer to all this suffering is not to get angry at God for the brokenness that marred God’s plan for the world, but to be part of the solution by becoming one of God’s people, and helping many others to do the same.  I myself have experienced the peace in the midst of tragedy that comes from the understanding that the evil in our world is not God’s fault; that, instead, He has sacrificed His only Son to bring us peace in the midst of everything that can go wrong; and that ultimately, He will set all things right.

While I was in these two meetings, Sharla was in sessions with Dr. Georgia Purdom, who talked about biblical womanhood and answers that give hope in times of tragedy.  She said that these were both REALLY good sessions.  You’ll have to hear the details from her.

After dinner, we heard from Ken Ham again, this time on how to impact today’s culture.  He stressed that the best way to have a positive effect is to stick to our guns and not become like our culture.  That’s what the Israelites did, and it got them taken away into Assyria.  Then Judah did it and got taken away to Babylonia.  Instead, we need to stick with a clear biblical worldview in every area of our lives, and not try to separate our lives into “spiritual stuff” that we learn about from the Bible, and “real stuff” like history and astronomy and geology, that we go to secular sources to learn about.  When we do that, we start losing our young people in droves.  The latest Barna survey shows that 2/3 of churched children say that they will stop attending church as soon as they are able!  And the biggest reason that they cite is that people in the church say that they believe the Bible, but then they say that the creation history isn’t really true – doesn’t have to be taken literally; and the same with Noah’s flood.  The kids then decide that since these things aren’t true, then the rest of the Bible (including the stuff about Jesus) probably isn’t either.  So they turn away from the Bible and toward the secular education system to learn “the truth”!

Dr. Whitcomb came back and talked about the fossil record, how it was formed, and what it means for us.  It’s amazing to see the difference between the secular model of fossil formation and the Biblical model.  The secular model has dead things laying around for years while they get slowly buried by dust and volcanic ash and river sediment, repeated over millions of years.  The Biblical model has nearly all of the fossils being formed during the Great Flood of Noah.  A global flood would be absolutely able to lay down the thousands of feet of sediment in a year, instantly burying aquatic and land animals, keeping them from rotting, and then infiltrating their bodies with minerals to fossilize them.  There is abundant evidence that this kind of thing is very likely, especially shown in the Mt. St. Helens eruption (which was pretty small scale, compared to the global flood and all of the volcanic eruptions that were going on at that time).  Scientists watched as 1000 feet of sediment layers, thousands and thousands of layers, were laid down in a few hours, and then as a canyon was cut through those layers by rapidly flowing water in a few hours.  A canyon was cut by that same water through solid rock in just 3 or 4 days!  So we can see in miniature there what was likely to have happened during and after the flood.

The last speaker of the day was Don Landis, the chairman of the Board for Answers in Genesis.  His basic thrust was that if we put Adam at the end of millions of years of death and suffering as evolution would have it, then the biblical statement that the sin of Adam brought death into the world is false.  It would also make the death of Jesus unnecessary, and the promise of eternal life futile, because if death wasn’t caused by sin, then forgiveness of sin can’t do anything about death.  Very interesting.

There is one other pastor from our district here, Guy Cooksey from Myrtle Creek.  We had lunch with him and his delegation.

There are not pictures for today, just because it wasn’t that kind of day.  Should have some tomorrow.  We’re both very tired, and have to be up early, so we’re headed to bed!

Good night and God bless.

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