Monday, October 24, 2016

Do the Wise Thing 24 Hour Challenge

Up for a little challenge?  This may seem a bit simple, but I have a feeling it might be tougher than you think.  Give it a try and let me know how it goes for you.

  • Pick a 24 hour period of time, and write the date down in advance.
  • Pray once in the morning, noontime, and night.
  • Do something for someone else without compensation of any kind.
  • Speak only the truth, and show compassion in your speech.
  • Choose only healthy things for the mind, body and soul.
  • Be humble all day.
  • Be patient, and peaceful all day.
  • Be productive as possible.
  • Exercise 45 minutes.
  • Encourage someone.
Here is a quote from Emanuel Swedenborg that may help you with this:

Some people live good lives and believe that the Lord governs the universe; that he alone is the source of all the good embraced by love and charity and all the truth espoused by faith; that life itself comes from him; and consequently that from him we live, move and have our being.  The condition of these people is such that they can receive the gift of heavenly freedom, and peace too, because under these circumstances they trust only in the Lord and do not let anything else bother them.  They are positive that under his care, everything leads forever toward what is good, blessed, and happy for them.  People who believe they control their own lives, though, constantly feel troubled.  They constantly become embroiled in their appetites, in worries about the future, and so in many forms of anxiety.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

A good view from the lowly bunk bed

One of my good fortunes is the opportunity to travel a lot in my lifetime, and more so in the last few years.  One interesting thing in common in the most important of those travels sounds a bit odd, but I would have to say is the bunk bed.  A bunk bed actually implies group travel, and most often with altruistic intentions.  I’ve visited a number of bunk beds in various places this year, and all of them have been a delight to the soul.

My latest adventure was with a group of students from Indiana State University on a trip called Alternative Fall Break.  We visited the Indiana Dunes National Learning Center to provide some community service.  Staying at a group camp run by a non-profit and working with the National Park Service doing some land reclamation projects.  Day one was simply cutting down weeds in what was once the Good Fellow Youth Camp.  The National Park Service, specifically Ranger Ted is working to restore parts of this camp that was operated by U.S Steel’s Gary Works.  The camp was operated from 1941 to 1976, but then abandoned. 

Day two found us picking specific seeds from the natural prairie that started here and went through most of the Midwest before mankind got a hold of it.  Have to admit I wasn’t really looking forward to this part, but it was actually a really nice activity.  The prairie on a nice sunny day is a relaxing place to visit.  I think everyone on the team enjoyed it, and we collected a lot of seed to help expand the prairie in the future.

I would have to say a divine providence has had an impact on bring me to each of them.  The dynamics of a team working together to be of value can’t be overstated.  Something just clicks in the soul on each of these occasions, and it just makes me want to be involved in more of them.  I’ve also had the good fortune to have some more upscale sleeping quarters in my travels.  Not that I mind a soft bed, but I’m more than willing to sacrifice it with a good group of people.  Be it family, friends, or students here at the university.

May such travels be in each of our futures.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Why we should get out of Syria Now

Aleppo Syria is often in the news these days as it well should be.  What’s going on there with the civil war is certainly a catastrophe of the worst order.  If that is the case, why do I believe the United States should get out of there post haste?  Sit tight, the answer starts a few years ago …

As recently as 2005 Aleppo had 2.5 million citizens and was among the oldest cities on record.  It had multi-denominational churches and mosques that coexisted.  In 2012 however it became a chief battleground of the Syrian Civil War.  Massive protests against the government of Bashar al-Assad spilled into Aleppo with rebel fighters from a variety of groups battling the government forces to this day.  If it was only Syrian rebels against the Syrian government it would probably be long over.  However Islamic extremists and foreign fighters joined the battle.  Followed of course by foreign countries who supported one side or the other.  The end result is an ancient city reduced to rubble.  Most if its citizens either left, or died in the cross fire with bombs still dropping on the city daily.

The United States has had a policy of assisting the moderate rebels including the Free Syrian Army and a shifting alliance of moderate Islamic fighters.  However, Russia, Iran and Lebanon has decided to back the government of Bashar al-Assad.  You don’t need to be a foreign policy expert to realize this is a toxic mix that has greatly increase the destruct power of this civil war. 

The question now becomes one of will.  That clearly is on the side of Russia and Iran.  They have become far and away the aggressors in this battle.  Prior to 2016 the United States could have stepped in to become the dominate force to determined what would happen.  Bottom line is we didn’t.  Russian and Iran saw this as a sign of weakness and moved in whole heartedly.  As of now they control the battle and have forced the United States to play such as weak roll that we can no longer even come to the bargaining table.

With that in mind continuing to support the moderate rebels will only extent the bloodshed.  One alternative is to establish zones of protection by splitting Syria which would directly confront Russia and Iran.  Something akin to East and West Germany in years past.  To leave would appear an incredible weakness on our part, but that was already long decided by our limited strategy in this war.  The Russian and Iranian alliance has already usurped the United States.  To stay the fight now would only extend death and destruction.    A terrible choice, but one already determined years ago.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Fountain of Youth Found

This past weekend they had the first official opening of the lake jump at the Griffen Bike Park.  It was also just a couple of days before my 58th birthday so I was thinking birthday present to self.  However, the day was one of endless rain showers so I pretty much talked myself out of it.  Just then I got a text from Mike telling me he was getting ready to go.  Well, can’t say no to that so to the park we went.

You would think a group of hard-core mountain bikers would be in line for the jump, but not so much.  It was kids, early twenty somethings, and a couple of middle age types with life jackets on and in line for the jump.  Lots of people there to watch as well.  Mike and I both surveyed the jump, watched a few other brave souls go before we got a life jacket, and got the courage up to join in.  They had bikes strapped with “noodle floats” attached so you just had to fetch the next one out of the lake and get in line.

videoI walked the bike up the hill and asked the first guy I saw what the trick was to making the jump without doing anything horrible to oneself.  His answer was to just relax, keep the knees and arms bent and just push the bike away at the top of the ascent. 

Now inline I see a kid maybe 12 years old behind me.  Asked him if he had ever done this, his answer was a flat no.  Told him me neither. At this point I and the 12 year old were clearly equals.  Feeling every bit like a 12 year old rookie I have to admit I was nervous.  No other cycling experience I’ve had prepared me for this.  Soon I received the go ahead to proceed down the hill toward the ramp.  Keep saying to myself on the way down I can’t believe I’m doing this …

Well I hit the ramp at decent speed, went up the ramp and proceeded to get maybe 15 feet into the air before pushing the bike down and flying over the top of it and into the water.  Wow, that was actually not the terrifying ordeal I thought it might be.  It was actually really fun. 

Concerned you’re growing old, well if you want to be 12 again, I know just the place.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Your Value as a Human Being

Your Value as a Human Being

Genesis 2:7 Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.

The Body

We indeed are made of the common earth elements (the dust of the Earth):

65% Oxygen
18% Carbon
10% Hydrogen
3% Nitrogen
1.5% Calcium
1% Phosphorous
0.35% Potassium
0.25% Sulfur
0.15% Sodium
0.15% Chlorine
0.05% Magnesium
0.0004% Iron
0.00004% Iodine

Total worth about $4.50

The Mind

Yet on closer examination just looking at the human brain which contains 100 billion neurons, each with about 10,000 synapses.  It has been estimated that the brain of a three-year-old child has about 1 quadrillion synapses.  

In fact if you considered all complexity within multiple, interconnected systems that are within your makeup, you are beyond imagination.

God turned common dust into the most complex system on earth.  

The Spirit

The spirit/conscience/soul within you which came from the very essence of God as mentioned in Genesis 2:7 is then of eternal value.  

The Bottom Line

If you are concerned about your self-worth, you shouldn’t be.  You are worth more than you can possibly imagine.  God may have started you from the dust of the Earth, but he form you into something that has incredible, and eternal value. 

Monday, May 16, 2016

Being Gracious in Defeat

Going into the 31st annual Terre Haute Triathlon I had a single goal of winning my age-group (55-59).  Bottom line, I didn’t win it, or get second, but got a close 3rd.  I’ve had plenty of experience in regional and national level events to know I’m by no means an elite triathlete.  So you would think I would take 3rd place easily.  Ah, not so.  In a lot of ways I felt like all was lost.  Why?  I guess I haven’t defeated the pride issue just yet.

Had the good opportunity to talk with the Robert Smrekar who did win my age group just after the race.  Seemed like a really nice guy, and if I had to lose it didn’t seem so bad to lose to him.  Yet the next day I was thinking about how to go just that much faster to not let it happen again.  I’m still debating in my mind if that is a good thing or not.

As a person who doesn’t like to sit still, loves a challenge, and exercise this sport was made for me.  I’m not a talented swimmer, but have a reasonable amount of talent for cycling and running.  That combined I’ve spent 27 years competing in these crazy events.  It is a really good feeling to be fit to go out and race.  That enough is a reason to stay with it.  Yet the down side it thinking you are somehow more elite than the next guy. 

The take away, it’s good to be humble and enjoy the fine company of fellow triathletes.  Lots of nice people in this sport.  Also, good to be gracious in defeat even if you are plotting and scheming to win the next time …

Monday, March 21, 2016

ISU Visits the Country of Panama

A group of  16 students and 2 chaperons from ISU spent a week in Panama as an Alternative Spring Break (ASB).  ASB offers students a chance to spend spring break doing service projects.  

What follows is more notes from the trip rather than a story, but if your curious about Panama, or an Alternative Spring Break trip you might find it interesting:

We stayed in a guest house in Paraiso owned by a nonprofit Christian organization.  They work with SCORE Missions all the time.  Had a nice upstairs we stayed at with bunk beds on each end, and a common area in the middle.  Food was served downstairs just below I another common area with a kitchen.  Another group from a church was there, but maybe 8 or so.

David, Mariaanella Bueno, and their boys Danny and Ezekiel were out hosts/tour guides for the trip.  Both from Uruguay, and had worked there with SCORE for around 6 years.  David was a professional soccer player before becoming a missionary with SCORE.  

Roomed with Tyler with just a 1 bunk room.  Girls stayed in separate rooms down the hall or the other side of the living room.

Day 1: After we arrived in Panama we went to Gamboa village to teach English.  Got to buy a wood hand carved toucan from the village.  Very nice people and the kids loved to play.  This was in the afternoon on the day we arrived.  BTW got to see a black and neon yellow colored toucan fly by the house in the morning.

Day 2: Panama Canal boat ride to Monkey Island.  Followed a container ship out, and plenty to be seen.  Saw several going through the canal.  Got to feed a monkey out of my hand.  Heard Howler monkeys in another area close by.  Popular tourist thing.  Monkeys were wild and came when they wanted to.  Very gentle. Then back to Gamboa to paint bathrooms.  Directly off the Panama Canal.  Super-hot and thirst.  Will bring water with me from now on.      Bought a skirt for Sherrie like the women wear.  In the afternoon we went in to the old part of the city and did some tourist type stuff and shopping.  Highlight was a Freeza (strawberry) smoothie in a nice place.

Day 3: Las Margeritas to build benches, dig drainage ditch, play with kids, and give away stuff.  They fed us a rice dish with tomato and cucumber.  Poor village out a good ways, but not tribal.  Kind of like a vacation bible school.  Hot and sweaty but good work.

Day 4: Tobago Island.  45 minute boat ride from Panama City.  Island was very scenic but the beach was kind of dirty.  Charged for everything.  Not the way to do things.  Got in some good swimming, hiked the mountain with Tyler, Emily, Marylyn.  Super-hot and dry.  Good views.  Most got a good sunburn here since we were there for most of the day.  All kinds of container ships out in the gulf here.

Day 5: Chagres River to Waterfall, food give away, tribal dance and story:

Tribes in the river areas are much the same, with wooden boats with outboard motors and not much in the way of clothes, live on fish and plantains.  Some are Christian, but many are not.  Very interesting and welcoming people.  The crafts they sell are priced on 1 dollar per days’ work, so 25 item took 25 days to make.  They served fish they caught and plantains.  Played around I the waterfall and had a nice talk with David.  Bought some metal bands and fabric bands.  The guys from the tribe wore large silver bands. Some kids got temporary tattoos.  A standard tribal thing.  $3-10 dollars.

Day 6: Mountain school to teach English and give away stuff.  Feed us breakfast like the kids, strawberry, pineapple drink and corn roll fried with some hotdog slices. Play baseball and freebie.  Worked with elementary, middle school then high school last.  Did a song with the elementary kids. Played baseball with middle school Played dodgeball last.  Met two ladies working with the Peace Core here.  One was a 2014 grad from IU.  Other was from North Carolina.  They signed up for 27 mouths. Lunch was a rice dish with coleslaw and a bit of tuna mixed in.  Lots of laughs with the kids on the bus this day.  They taught me more Spanish than I taught them English.

Side notes:
Learning to play Kemps (card game) was really fun.
David and Mariaanella Bueno are the best!
ASB students rock!
Panama Canal was a 10 minute walk away.
Got to run twice down to the soccer field and back.  3 miles trashed me with the humidity.
Nice to have meals with the people from Panama that we served.  
Also some physical labor on this trip was good to do.