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Showing posts from 2010

For Ray:)

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Ray Smallwood  August 1950-December 2010
I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. (Philippians 1: 3-6).

My first vivid memory of talking to Ray Smallwood, was after finishing preaching, I had asked the congregation to join hands and sing a song at the conclusion of the service. After most of the people left, Ray came up to me, and in his folksy, Will Rogers like way… asked “Are we gonna do that holding hands stuff very often”?

I thought to myself….what’s his deal? I asked him don’t you like that, He said no not really! The ironic part of all that, is while he might not have been overly thrilled at clasping hands and singing, he as only he could would actually hold people much much closer!

I did not know that then, oh but I know …

Christmas in the Old West!

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In the three years that I have lived in Wyoming, I have felt the welcome of her people and the challenge of serving the Lord Jesus Christ in a state that is…. forever West!
This week  my mind was captivated by what the early pioneers….experienced as they settled the Land that would remain “Forever West”.

What was Christmas like for them 130 or more years ago?

*Far away from the tinsel, eggnog, and colorfully wrapped packages of civilized life in the East, explorers, mountain men, and pioneers usually celebrated Christmas with homemade gifts and humble fare.

As the West became settled, affluent westerners could order by mail virtually all the trimmings of Christmas, from toy trains to canned oysters.

*Christmas in the Old West:  A Historical Scrapbook, a mosaic of stories, reminiscences, recipes, photographs, newspaper clippings, magazine advertisements, and more, brings alive the spirit of Christmas on the American frontier.

Through diary quotes, letters, and stories we can f…

Christmas Memories!

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“To perceive Christmas through its wrapping becomes more difficult with every year”  E. B. White (American writer 1899-1985).
Christmas memories we all have them. Time causes some to fade....yet others are just as vibrant as if they just had occurred.

For some memories of Christmas are stark, bleak....they are black and white, colorless.

For some, their Christmas memories are rich and full and take you back to a simpler time, when the World was not so rushed....when life was not given to endless reminders of what we need to buy to own to have...to somehow make the Christmas season more fulfilling.

 For me.

Warm and vibrant, Christmas memories stand in line waiting somewhat impatiently to make their way into conscious thought!

How well I remember the smell of a fresh cut Christmas tree, no artificial trees allowed in my earliest Christmas recollections.

I recall the tree standing less than straight....the need to crank frequently the base screws, less the tree fall.

Hmmm if a …

Friendship always has its time!

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*Classmates.com is a social network service created in 1995 by Randy Conrads. The social media website is designed to assist members in finding friends and acquaintances from kindergarten, primary school, high school, college, work and the United States military. Classmates.com has more than 40 million members in the United States and Canada.

In early 2008, Nielsen Online ranked Classmates as number three in unique monthly visitors (U.S. home, work) among social networking sites. * Wikipedia

I am a member. From time to time, friends from my past will reach out to say an overdue hello. It's been said ..."That no matter how good a friendship is, it always has it's time".  Meaning that the people who once occupied a prominent place in your day to day life....will not always be there.

Life moves like a stream, and the people we love and know...have goals and ambitions, that inevitably will lead them away, and we are left to consider their impact.

Classmates.c…

Hero for Breakfast!

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It's in the day to day routine events of life that extraordinary events can occur.  On a beautiful November morning this week I was enjoying breakfast with my wife, Laura and oldest son, Brian.

The meal was nearly completed when a man walked in, aided by his wife he had an erect posture and a slow deliberate gait. They were seated at the next table, his shirt pocket full of cigars, and he had a winsome smile that he readily shared with me. He was also wearing a cap, nothing surprising about that...men in their 80's and 20's wear caps....but only a handful of men who have ever drawn a breath are qualified to wear the cap he was wearing!  Navy blue, gold letters….with USS Indianapolis across the top.

I immediately thought, isn’t that the ship that brought the components to assemble the atomic bomb that ultimately led to the end of World War Two?  My son, Brian went online with his cell phone to find out.

I was thinking, could it be that the man seated just 4 feet away from…

Son of the Right Hand:)

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Some people make your life better by just being in it.  You know the kind of person I am describing. When they walk in a room, you just know that they bring with them love, not a little bit either....they are love walking into your life, and you smile!
Ever since November 29, 1988, our family has had a person who defines what it is to be generally interested in others, a person who I think sometimes, for what ever reason, does not know how much he adds to those around him.  Today I am writing for...because soon we will be celebrating his 22 years on the planet....my kind and loving son....Ben.

In fact, just moments ago his mom said, "Ben, is a hug waiting to happen!"

I defy anyone to truly know him, and not love him.  He is a big man, with a heart that is so gentle.  Being his dad is one of the great joys of my life!

Why?

Ben is kind!  I love that quality in people.  He really cares about others...maybe too much, because he tends to dismiss his own importance, perhaps th…

In honor of Dr. Adrian Rogers, fifth year in Heaven!

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I thank my Godin all my remembrance of you, 4always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, 5because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. 6And I am sure of this, that he who begana good work in youwill bring it to completion atthe day of Jesus Christ. (Philippians 1:3-6). ESV

The great Scottish preacher, Peter Marshall, once said:

“It’s not the duration of a life that counts but the donation.”

How thankful Christians should be for the duration and donation of the life of Adrian Rogers.  Dr. Rogers pastored the historic Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis, Tennessee, from 1972 until his retirement in 2005. He left for heaven in November of the same year.  He was a three time president of the Southern Baptist Convention, a preacher without peer and a statesman in the first order. 

I had the opportunity to meet him on five different occasions, each time he looked intently into my eyes, and expressed genuine and heartfelt interest in my own…

A Season in your path

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As a pastor, I have become familiar with goodbyes. The Lord's call on my life requires, as it does all believers, obedience and a willingness to go wherever and whenever He decides.

I have had the experience, as we all have, of looking long and hard at a face that belongs to a person who has brought joy to my life and then having to walk away, never to see them again, on this earth anyway.

To be honest, saying goodbye to some people was not so hard at all...I often wish it would have been, but I have known rejection, and have not been wanted or needed by some along the way.  For the most part, however, that has not been the case. 

Farewells have taken their toll in 22 years of pastoring on me and especially my sweet wife, Laura. Our three sons have had to make new friends, and though they are now young men...they have been all to accustomed to new beginnings and teary endings. We now live 360 miles away from them...five hours by car...and sometimes a lifetime away from our memor…

Life Everlasting!

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*Tuck Everlasting is a fantasy children's novel by Natalie Babbitt. It was published in 1975. The book was made into a movie back in 2002.

The book and the movie explore the concept of immortality and the reasons why it might not be as desirable as it appears to be. *Wikipedia article

The “Tuck Family” drinks from a spring at the base of an old tree. The result, they never die, and nothing can ever harm them.

Notable quotes from the movie:

*For some time passes slowly, an hour can seem an eternity. For others there's never enough. For the Tucks, it didn't exist.

*If there's one thing I've learned about people, it's that many will do anything, anything not to die. And they'll do anything to keep from living their life.


*What we Tucks have, you can't call it living. We just... are. We're like rocks, stuck at the side of a stream.

*Father Tuck said it to Winnie the summer she turned 15, don’t be afraid of death, Winnie. Be afraid of the unlived life…

Ageing Cheese!

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It started in 1959, and lasted until 1972. Sunday nights Americans watched laughed cried and wondered if everything would turn out ok. It is now one of the most widely watched syndicated Television Shows in the world. Though the original cast have left the earth, they still have an impact. Of course I am talking about my favorite T.V. western of all time!

You may be thinking “Gun smoke” …nope, don’t get me wrong I liked it, and would even ask my parents if I could stay up on Monday nights to watch it, but not gun smoke. The Wild Wild West? Sorry, I loved that show to and use to wish I was as cool as James West, and could escape from life’s predicaments….within 1 hour! Artemis Gordon, and James West….smooth, and slick but not first place in my heart!

Give up? OK, my favorite western… “Bonanza”! Ben Cartwright raising those three sons on a thousand square miles, of the Ponderosa!

I have Bonanza memorabilia in my office, that includes a replica ten gallon Hoss hat! We even named…

Should Christians ever be disappointed?

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We reach, we hope, we apply, we wait….and we wonder why something we desire did not happen. Early in our lives we learn that everything we set our heart and mind on, does not necessarily come our way.

Girls can, do and will say no, if we ask them out! The boy you have a crush on, for no reason at all….looks the other way.

Employers will look past our eager faces, and well prepared resumes, with a full complement of vast experience, and stellar references….and someone else gets the call!

We wait for an opportunity were sure is coming, but wait is all we do. The phone at last rings, and its someone wanting you to by a time share in paradise…somewhere, far from where you are, both figuratively and literally!

Disappointments, we try to say, don’t matter, but hear “no” often enough, and they take their toll. Life sometimes moves slowly.

Have you ever noticed it is as if we live from hope to hope, no sooner than something wonderful and unexpected breaks into our lives….and we set ou…

Back to the Future!

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It only took a phone call and I was there! Time gave way, the calendar of my life went in reverse so swiftly so completely that I was surprised:)

My sojourn through time took me all the way back  to Colorado Springs, Colorado in the early 70’s!

 I was there, vividly there! No need to schedule a Doctor’s appointment for me, or adjust my medications (I don’t even take medications) and No I did not take anything this week.

It wasn’t because I had too many Grilled Pork Ribs at Monday night’s men’s group either….so if you have a conspiracy theory…shelve it!

What happened? I called my best friend from the 1970’s Dennis Rogan. We went to school together (Grade School, Junior High, and High School) played sports together and even went trick or treating in a blizzard that left over two feet of snow....and our pillow cases filled with candy!

Our friendship has been recently rekindled and Tuesday night we reminisced about where we had been, and what we had done.

He was the greatest athle…

Seasons Change, God is Constant!

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I love fall. Crisp air, blowing brightly colored leaves in swirls of vivid and vibrant hues! God was so kind to provide us with a variety of seasons.

Some people, who call Wyoming home, doubt that distinct seasons are ever really noticeable!

Summer bows quickly to winter winds and snow. Fall is skipped over, like the last kid to be selected for dodge ball!

Yet it is fall now, it is fall today, and I am smiling!

As Seasons change, moving from one expression to another, it reminds me that time is never stagnant. Time flows like a river, and events, faces, laughter, tears from the life we are given March from our memory banks into conscience thought , for us to ponder, to enjoy…for a season.

Memory is such a wonderful gift of God. Memories allows us to have Roses in the winter….to bring back past joy, former experiences are recalled and we all can smile.

Painful memories of course are filed away. They often try to press their way into current thought, they push, they pry, they wa…

Iron Sharpens Iron!

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As a Pastor there are many demands and expectations, on my life.  Days slip by and there is always more to do. A  typical week...haven't had one yet:)

 When I look back at the more than 20 years of serving as a Pastor I have so much to be thankful for.  There is nothing like being a part of a viable movement of God in a community of believers!  People being Saved, people growing closer to the Lord...it is truly a " Wonderful Life".

I feel the need to write about a particular ministry that I am watching grow, develop, transition and effect many lives right now. 

The men's ministry at HillTop Baptist Church in a word is ..."Thriving"!

We have met weekly for the past year, did not break for summer, endured a Wyoming winter...frequently are eating exceedingly spicy cheese ca so.... experienced the ebb and flow of fellow men, leading their families, growing in the Lord, and being impacted by the Lord, in so many distinct areas of our lives. 

These guys …

How are things at home?

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A year ago today, hearts were breaking, tears were flowing and pain left us nearly breathless.  A year ago we said a teary temporary(Thank God) farewell (Christians, never say goodbye, for the final time) to Michelle Robin Hensley, my sister, my dear friend. 

The 12 months that we have walked and sometimes stumbled through, have been difficult.The Lord has, asHe promised, bore our burdens, comforted  hearts....and dried tears.

Oh they still come, often, I think they always will.  There is so much we miss, about you, so much we want to share with youI know that in some way you know what we are doing....maybe in more detail than we can imagine.

I still have a lump in my throat from time to time....and missing you is a pale way to describe the ache....butI know you are with the Lord....and I am comforted.

There are no words to describe how much we miss you. Your laughter, your wit...your timing always spot on! I picture you now in the HR departmentin heavenassigned to new arrivals!

I can…

Hope in Jesus!

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        I suppose I should have locked the door. My mom certainly thought so,after she heard what happened to me last Sunday afternoon. I was in my office, when I heard the front door open. I said hello, and some voice I had never heard replied “ Hello” I listened as steps brought the voice and the person closer to me.

Then there he was! Young, tall, with a large bed roll on his back. A tattoo of a machine gun on one forearm. Knee high laced up boots, and a distinct aroma completed the ensemble!

 I learned that he was a traveler….riding as he put it “The roads and the rails”.


He was from back east. He had to shave the dreads locks he had worn…in an attempt to get rid of lice that were now causing considerable itching! He asked about a place to wash clothes, he asked about a shower. I told him about Jesus, and asked if he was hungry. I took him to the kitchen, and gifted him some can goods, crackers….and one big cinnamon roll!

Going outside to my car to find some coins for the laundry…

Can God's Existence be Proven?

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British physicist and mathematician Stephen Hawking says no, arguing in his new book that there need not be a God behind the creation of the universe.

"Because there is a law such as gravity, the Universe can and will create itself from nothing," the excerpt says.

"Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the Universe exists, why we exist. It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going."

What is the Christian response to such a statement?

I would ask Dr. Hawking, Who created the law of gravity?

Atheists often deride believers with questions of God’s existence…they say you can’t prove God in a laboratory!

You can if you get in the right Laboratory!

Jesus said in John 7:17:

If anyone's will is to do God's will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority.

To know God, you have to be willing to be open to His existence. There is muc…

Memories!

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In the living of life, we are often so focused on goals and objectives…where we hope to go…where we want to go, that we neglect to celebrate the moments that happen to us, after all life is really moments one after another. I have always been a goal orientated person, and I believe we should aim high…
“There are no limits but the sky”

In the climb…we must not forget the journey!

I am thinking today about some of the moments that have lingered…and became a part of me.

This week I will celebrate 29 years of marriage to my beautiful bride Laura…I remember when friendship turned to love…and it burns brighter now, more than ever.

The memory of Holding my sons….lifting them to heaven and saying to them the words from roots... “Behold the only thing greater than yourself"

I remember the many and unique ways God has directed my life….the jobs, the education the calling on my life, to serve Him!

I am thinking of the brother and sister who were sitting on a curb eating ice cream, I s…

Worth the Wait!

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 I met him for the first time on a blistering hot summer day, in August. I had looked forward to meeting him, for a lifetime.  In fact I suppose the thought of actually meeting him, knowing him...started as far back as the mid 1970's.

The anticipation was heightened by the passing of years. I often thought to myself just when will that day come?

There was a span of time when the reality of meeting him...seemed distant, and perhaps impossible. I allowed a thought to at times make it's way into my mind...maybe,  I would never  have the opportunity to actually look him in the eyes, to experience a long awaited...long prayed for encounter.

But summer 1986 came, and with it...the beginning of a deep and abiding relationship!

That 5th day of August 1986, at the All Saint's Episcopal Hospital in Fort Worth, Texas I met him! 

I met, I held... my first born son, Brian for the first time!

Words are simply a desperately inadequate vehicle, to carry to anyone reading this,  my feeling…

Stranded!

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Imagine being stranded!

If you were stranded, if you could select your destination, where would you choose? How about the Keebler Elf Cookie factory? I wouldn’t mind….and if I had a gallon of milk in hand, I would be set!

Hershey, Pennsylvania would be great!

 I wouldn’t cry if I was locked in overnight at Mardels Christian bookstore….provided I had a flashlight!

What if stranded did not include cookies or books…what if stranded meant a remote location…like....no I am not thinking of Wyoming…how about a deserted island?

No movies stars or professors…just you and one study Bible! Okay, Okay three study Bibles…and plenty of water and food, and shelter. Rescue would be a year away.

Which three study Bibles would you want?

I would want, in order:

1. The MacArthur Study Bible


2. The Nelson Study Bible


3. The ESV Study Bible.

Why? MacArthur? He is serious about God’s Word, he is a Scholar in the first order; the study notes are outstanding, and his theology (Understanding Doctrine, the teaching…

A Matter of Perspective!

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His name was Mike. He was 48 years old a carpenter by trade, out of work out of money but… and he emphasized this, he was…not out of hope. He had been hitchhiking from the Yellowstone area. It had taken him 9 days to catch enough rides to make it to Green River. He was tired, he was hungry and now he was looking at me.

I am a part of the Travelers aid ministry that assists people who are traveling through and have limited to no resources. I asked Mike how much money he had on him, he replied 6 cents!

He wanted; he needed a room, for the night. I hesitated because funding for travelers aid is often tight and especially so in the summer. Not to mention some “Travelers” are professionals who refuse to work …who by their own choice amble across the country subsisting off the generosity of hard working people!

Mike was not a “Professional Traveler” he just needed a friend.

I talked about knowing Jesus; he assured me he did….and that’s why he was not lonely…why he was not without hope.

Bucket List!

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My favorite quarterback, John Elway, just turned 50, He is 6 months older than me, two time Super-bowl champion, hall of famer…holds numerous records…most fourth quarter comebacks etc! In a recent article in the Denver Post…He was talking about his own mortality.

With luck and hard work, I've achieved a lot in my life so far, but I've still got a lot more I want to do," Elway told The Denver Post in a lengthy conversation at Elway's restaurant in Cherry Creek.

Elway's bucket list includes playing the bad guy in a cowboy movie, driving a stock car on a local track, biking the Ride The Rockies, traveling to Italy again (where he proposed to his wife of 10 months, Paige), playing in a seniors golf tournament, visiting the historic World War II beach site at Normandy, watching his four children graduate from college (the oldest has earned a master's degree, and the other three are attending different universities), doing dozens of new business deals, growing the re…

Will you finish strong, without regrets?

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Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. 25 Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. (1 Corinthians 9:24-25). ESV

Starting the race is easy. It’s finishing the race that is difficult!

My new favorite writer is Washington D.C. Pastor Mark Batterson. Insightful, inspiring, and challenging that's Mark.

Here are just a few of his book titles:

Wild Goose Chase: Reclaiming the Adventure of Pursuing God
The Id: True you
Primal: A quest for the lost soul of Christianity
In a Pit with a lion on a snowy day.


When I think of the challenge of " Finishing Strong", I am reminded of something Mark wrote, and his thinking as always takes the reader to a place of contemplation, where one must face squarely the decision to remain where you are or believe God for something more:

Here is a challenge from the heart of this writer: There are the reg…

Do you pray for others when asked?

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Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
(James 5:16).

Will you pray for me?

In my life I have had so many people ask me to do just that. As a minister that is to be expected.

Do the folks that ask, think I have an in with God that they don’t have? Are the prayers of ordained clergy more effective?

I think the vast majority of people who have asked me to pray for them do so, because they truly just want someone, to care enough to walk with them in a difficult time, to join their thorny journey by sharing a burden, and audibly seeking the ear of the only one who can relieve stress, change a life situation and open a new door.

Just today I have had two different people ask me to pray for concerns that are weighing them down. I paused during the writing of this blog entry to pray for them.

When people ask you to pray for them, do you? I try to pray immediately when so…

Four Days!

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It was expensive. I knew it would be. Travel always is. Even “Got to get away” airline packages add up. Then there is the hassle of traffic, where did these people all come from? Don’t they have to work somewhere? They probably are thinking the same thing about me!

When you take last minute trips, the expenses pile up like line-backers on a slow running back!

When you factor in the cost of airport parking, gas, snacks (An essential part of the American traveling experience) restaurants, movie tickets and shopping sprees, you,… well, you face certain financial modifications…definite check book shock, serious... fiscal accountability….bottom line… you just might be eatingvariations of spam!

For me it was all worth it!

Just where did I go you wonder?

I, spent four wonderful days with a woman!That’s right a woman…that has been my wife since August of 1981!

She flew via United Airlines, to Salt Lake City, Utah.We drove back to Wyoming (170 miles away) where we worshiped at the wonderful Chu…

Time to fly!

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I love spring. Birds tweeting, bee's buzzing, flowers blooming, and young and not so young men and women are receiving diplomas!

Academic rigors give way to academic accomplishment!

And life beckons, inviting them to step out into the unknown, and move toward adult years!

Relatives of graduates sit row upon row in auditoriums and stadium bleachers to hear their loved one's name called, those few seconds of verbal recognition belong to the graduate, but for those who love them, they are also a part of that small segment of time that separates the student from the graduate...and we applaud!

Much like a baby bird who faces the uncertainty of flight, our young men and women will test their wings. In the flying and near flying (Think hard landings, and life hurts) they will stabilize and soar.

Looking back from the vantage point of my own life experience I would, if I could remind them:

1.Continuing education is important, keep reaching, believing there is no limit but the sky!

2.In a…

Piano Man!

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*The invention of the modern piano is credited to Bartolomeo Cristofori (1655-1731) of Padua, Italy, who was employed by Ferdinando de' Medici, Grand Prince of Tuscany, as the Keeper of the Instruments.

He was an expert harpsichord maker and was well acquainted with the previous body of knowledge on stringed keyboard instruments. It is not known exactly when Cristofori first built a piano.

An inventory made by his employers, the Medici family, indicates the existence of a piano by the year 1700; another document of doubtful authenticity indicates a date of 1698!* Wikpedia

Of all the instruments in the world, for me nothing beats the piano!I can't read music, but God has given me the ability to play, and I do often.

I find the piano..relaxing, soothing, inspiring, and comforting. I could go on...but you get the idea.

My piano tastes run from classical,to the gospel style of the late Anthony Burger.

What may surprise many people is...

I have played Piano at some of the largest Chur…

My Addiction, Time to get Honest!

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It is time to come clean, to pull aside the curtain, to shine a light, to let the skeleton out of my closet!

I am addicted. There I said it! I have an insatiable craving, desire if you will.

I have spent thousands paying for my addiction...and I not only can not stop...I refuse to!

Don't try to plan an intervention, I will walk out on you!

I am addicted to...Books!
Bound if you really want to know (Pardon the pun). I have an insatiable craving and compulsion to read.

I love it! I do I really do! I have been known to read a book while watching my sons play sports
....baseball....man you can really get some reading in watching that sport!

Football, the time in between plays oh baby....several paragraphs can be yours for the taking!

Basketball....yep, that's harder but if the teams are in a fouling mood....I am good to go!

I have often told my sons "Readers are Leaders" I believe it! In fact may I tell you something?

Your the same person now that you will be in five years…

So close, yet so Far!

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*Antony Flew, an academic philosopher who expounded atheism for most of his life but made a late conversion to belief in a creator, has died at age 87, his family said in a notice published Wednesday.

Flew died on April 8 2010 following a long illness, according to the notice in The Times (London) newspaper.

The son of a Methodist minister, Flew abandoned belief as a teenager because of the problem of evil.

"It just seemed flatly inconsistent to say that the universe was created by an omnipotent and perfectly good being. Yet there were evils in abundance which could not be put down to a consequence of human sin," he was quoted as saying in a 2004 interview with The Sunday Times.

In the last decade of his life, scientific discoveries about the complexity of DNA led him to believe there was an intelligent creator.

Flew's belief was in deism, in a remote creator who takes no interest in human affairs, unlike the Christian concept.

He is survived by his wife and two daughters.…