The Calaveras Jumping Frog

I had no idea what to expect when Carol and I went to San Andreas to visit our son and his family. Our first three nights were in the town named Angels Camp just eleven miles south.

No; that isn’t a place where celestial beings hunted and camped out. It is a town started by Henri Angell in 1848 as a gold mining town. Originally named Carson’s Creek, the town was incorporated under the name Angels in 1912 (located in Calaveras County) and eventually renamed to Angels Camp.

Although more than $20,000,000 in gold was processed there in the middle to late 1800s, one thing brought fame to both the town and a man: a story about a frog.

Sam Clemens, under the pen name of Mark Twain, was down on his luck and came to try his hand at panning for gold in the winter of 1864-1865. He didn’t do very well during his 88 days here in the California hills, but he heard a story in one of the taverns about a jumping frog. The veracity of the story is questionable; but embellishing it even further, Mark Twain wrote it up and sent it to his newspaper, The Territorial Enterprise, in Virginia City, Nevada.

That story, only 2,637 words including the title (The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras by Mark Twain), brought him immediate fame and fortune; that story became his “gold mine.”

Our son, Ron, took me to visit the site of his cabin on Jackass Hill where Mark Twain lived for almost three months. The hill received that name because at least once a week, a caravan of up to 200 donkeys with supplies for the miners in Carson Creek (Angels Camp) would stop there for the night.

Today, the main feature of the Calaveras County Fair is the frog-jumping contest. It is called the Calaveras County Fair & Jumping Frog Jubilee and is one the longest-running events in the state of California—going back to 1893. Of course, as with any good county fair, it includes entertainment, livestock, food, music, and crafts.

The frog-jumping contest is usually in the third weekend of May; and in a town of about 3,900 population, about 50,000 visitors attend the jubilee. People can bring their own frogs or rent them from a company in town (who catch the amphibians in the local ponds). The winner of the contest each year gets a plaque and $900 in cash. But if a frog beats the world record of 21 feet, 5 ¾ inches, the owner gets a World Record Holder title and $5,000 cash. Now maybe you can see why this is a big deal in Calaveras County.

Frogs are placed at the starting line. They get three jumps. The actual distance they jump is immaterial – it’s how close the critter gets to the finish line that counts. They seldom jump in a straight line, but you should hear the noise of the crowd as they both cheer the critters and scare the daylights out of them.

Another event that takes place is the Mark Twain Wild West Fest on the third Saturday of October. Gold Rush village is a kid’s area with fence-painting, knot-tying, a petting zoo, historic town with candle and soap-making, and more. There is gold-rush era music, and in honor of Mark Twain, a liar’s contest. That’s a real hoot!

Mark Twain was a good story-teller. In 1899 he wrote an article titled, “How to Tell a Story.” He said, “The humorous story is American, the comic story is English, the witty story is French. The humorous story depends for its effect upon the manner of the telling; the comic and the witty story upon the matter.”

Twain learned to tell stories in a dead-pan manner. The audience would be in a gale of laughter while Twain would sit there and watch them. That made it even funnier.

Mark Twain sent his story about the Calaveras County frog contest to The Territorial Enterprise in Virginia City, Nevada. I read recently that although the paper had gone out of business sometime ago, it is now back in operation. It was in this newspaper that Twain wrote, “If you don’t read the newspaper, you’re uninformed. If you do read the newspaper, you’re misinformed.”

Angels Camp is about 132 miles east of San Francisco by road, and about 80 miles southeast from Sacramento. My favorite eating establishment in town is called Round-Table Pizza, and the best ice cream place is called Yummy Ha-Ha.

Jesus Overruled Physics and Politics

Before Jesus was born, His title was “The Word.” John 1:1 says, “In the beginning was the Word. The Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Verse 14 tells us that the Word became a human and lived among us. God, the Word, was born under the name of Yehoshua (the Lord is Salvation) and translated into English as Joshua. Translated from Hebrew into Greek, his name is Iesous, and then translated into English is Jesus.

Historical records verify that Jesus was born in Bethlehem; lived in Egypt, Nazareth, and Galilee (and several other places), and His vocation was carpenter and stone mason. Contrary to popular opinion, Jesus was no wimp. Although He had a gentle disposition, He was muscular, physically tough, and had a will of iron. Those who were hurting or oppressed received gentle looks of compassion, but some of His adversaries shriveled under his steely glare!

Jesus had no identity crisis. He knew who He was and knew why He left heaven to live on earth. This was verified in Luke 2:48-49. Joseph and Mary were looking for Jesus and found Him in the temple bewildering the teachers of the law. When Mary asked twelve-year-old Jesus why He didn’t stay with them, Jesus responded, “Why were you looking for me? Didn’t you know that I must be in my Father’s house?”

Jesus never did anything worthy of execution, so why was He crucified?

A sacrifice had to be made to rescue us from the black hole of oblivion called hell so that we could live with God forever in heaven. But to complete this liberating task, the sacrifice could not remain dead. Only God could accomplish this other-worldly task, and that’s why Jesus came.

Historical records verify that multi-thousands of people, including the Roman Emperor, heard that Jesus had risen from the dead, although most folks didn’t want to believe it. When the guards told the leaders of the Sanhedrin that Jesus had left the tomb, the leaders paid them to lie and say that Jesus’ disciples took His body from the tomb while they were sleeping. But that lie was absurd. Any reasonable child understands that we don’t know what’s happening while we’re asleep.

In 1546 AD, John Heywood said, “There are none so blind as those who will not see.” That reminds me of the verse in Jeremiah 5:21, “Listen, you foolish and senseless people, with eyes that do not see and ears that do not hear” (NLT). Both Jeremiah and John were speaking to people who refused to believe the obvious: those who closed their eyes and ears to reality. But Jesus was seen by many hundreds – perhaps thousands – of people during the forty days after He left the tomb. Jesus is alive!

Myths and legends have been created by those who refused to accept the fact that Jesus is alive, and I’ve been asked a number of times what happened to Him? The greatest history book in the world – the Bible – answers that question.

In Acts 1:9-11, after Jesus gave parting instructions to the hundreds of people standing with Him on the hill, He left earth under his own power. The verses say, “…as they were watching, He was lifted up, and a cloud hid Him from their sight. As He was going, they were looking into the sky. Suddenly, two men wearing white clothes stood beside them. They said, ‘Men of Galilee, why are you standing here looking into the sky? Jesus, whom you saw taken up from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you saw him go’” (NCV).

Not only did innumerable people see Jesus for forty days after He walked out of the tomb, but hundreds of people also watched Jesus overrule gravity and ascend into the sky. As He disappeared into the clouds the angel told them how Jesus would return.

Return? How? Why?

Jesus was not ruled by the laws of physics nor the pressures of politics, and the same will be true at His next appearance. Accompanied by myriads of angels and people, Jesus will come out of the sky under His own power. He will end the prevailing wars and put an end to all evil empires, corrupt democracies, and inadequate kingdoms. Jesus will set up His own Kingdom, and those whom He calls righteous will rule with him.

This is not the end of the story: read the Bible for more.

Suicide Doesn’t Help

Carol and I had been at the Niagara Falls for five minutes when the State Trooper walked up and asked, “Sir, I don’t understand a thing any these folks are saying, but you look like you speak English. Have you heard anything about a man jumping over the edge?”

“No, sir. I’ve been here for about five minutes, and I haven’t heard anything about that.”

 “The rumor is that he jumped over about seven minutes ago. If you hear anything about it, I’d appreciate it if you’d find me and let me know. I’ll be in the State Trooper booth over there.”

“Yes, sir. Will do.”

An estimated 12,000,000 people visit the Falls annually, and every year about 40 people are killed going over the Falls – most of them suicides. The horrendous water pressure mangles the person against the rocks below and sometimes the bodies are never found.

We walked to the railing that is supposed to keep people out of the Niagara River. Here is basic information about the Falls.

The water plunges onto the rocks and slowly erodes the cliff at the rate of less than a foot per year. The confluence from the Canadian Horseshoe Falls and the American Falls creates the large whirlpool below. The American Niagara plunges down a total of 167-188 feet (depending on the specific location), but the water hits the mound of boulders around 70-110 feet.

The river flows about 25 miles per hour with an average of 150,000 gallons going over the edge each second; but the highest recorded volume was about 700,000 gallons per second. Its speed is estimated to be 68 mph as it hits the jagged boulders with multiple tons of pressure.

On the lighter side: As I read other information about the five Great Lakes, the Niagara River, and the Falls, I leaned back and laughed. For an unknown number of centuries, the Laurentide Ice Sheet covered Canada and a portion of the Northern US. According to one theory, the last ice age ended about 18,000 years ago, and the ice sheet which gouged out the lakes began receding.

I read: “20,000 years ago, earth started to warm, and the Laurentide Ice Sheet began to disappear. By approximately 10,500 BC, the Niagara Peninsula was free of the ice.”

This is why I laughed. Man is accused of causing global warming, but man wasn’t capable of generating substantial local heat until about 1500 BC, and no substantial regional heat until the 1700s AD. But the ice sheet began melting around 18,000 BC.

If man wasn’t the culprit 20,000 years ago, what caused the global warming back then? For that matter, what caused the earth to warm and freeze to generate the multiple theoretical ice ages? If the earth can cool and warm by itself, why blame man now? This is simple logic and easy to think through.

Back to Niagara Falls.

Carol and I spent the next four hours looking at the beauty and wondering about the power of nature on this spot on the map in northwest New York. Standing on the observation tower several hundred yards away or at the railing a few feet from the water’s edge, the sight of the water plunging over the edge and the roar of the cascading water crashing on the rocks was almost mesmerizing. Is that what prompted the man to take the leap? Or was it sorrow, loneliness, embarrassment, or emotional pain that prompted him to end his life?

The Niagara Falls is called The Honeymoon Capital of the World, so why do so many people end their lives here?

For the western mindset, the thought might be, I just can’t take the pain any longer; I’ll end it all. For the New Age or oriental religions, the mindset might be, This life hurts too much; perhaps it will be better next time.

But suicide neither solves nor ends any problems; it only creates more. Hebrews 9:27-28 says, “Just as everyone must die once and then be judged, so Christ was offered as a sacrifice one time to take away the sins of the people. And he will come a second time, not to offer himself for sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.” Suicide will not help anyone, but Jesus can help whoever asks Him for help. Turn to God, and to friends, for help, comfort, and direction for life, because you are loved. Your life is valuable, and people need you.

John 3:16: For God so loved the [people in the] world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.

What Do You Want in Life?

Matthew 13:44-46 is our starting point for this topic. “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that a man discovered hidden in a field. In his excitement, he hid it again and sold everything he owned to get enough money to buy the field. Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant on the lookout for choice pearls. When he discovered a pearl of great value, he sold everything he owned and bought it!” (NLT)

Have you ever wanted something so badly that you would do almost anything to get it?

Little Joe grew up in Pennsylvania near a coal mining town. He was skinny, not very tall, and didn’t look like he could take the pounding that high school football players take; so the coach put him on the sideline.

But Joe wanted to be a football quarterback.

He practiced for hours every night after school throwing and catching the ball. His dad became his personal coach and created difficult practice sessions for him. Joe strenuously pushed himself, and his skills exceled. The coach noticed Joe’s improvement and asked him to play on the starting team, and they won the state championship several years straight.

At graduation, a Notre Dame university scout recruited him, and Joe took the Fighting Irish to several national championships. After graduating from Notre Dame, the San Francisco 49ers hired Joe Montana, and the rest is Football History.

Here’s another story.

All his life, Harry wanted to be an actor, but at every interview he was told he would make a good blue-collar worker.

However, he hired out as an apprentice carpenter and brick layer. He eventually learned the carpentry trade so well that he formed his own company, began designing houses, and hired his own workers. But he never gave up his dream, and he practiced acting in front of the mirror … in the woods … in the houses he built. He never quit.

One day when a movie director hired Harrison to design a new house, the director said, “Haven’t you interviewed for one of my films?” When Harrison answered “yes,” Mr. Lucas said, “Please come for another interview in the morning.”

So Harry, Harrison Ford, interviewed and became Hans Solo in STAR WARS!

What did Joe Montana and Harrison Ford have in common? They had a goal. They set their minds to accomplish that goal. And they made it.

What do you want in life? When I was asked that question as a teenager, I refined the question. “The more appropriate question for me is, what does God want me to do.”

When we enter God’s family, He gives us several gifts (I Corinthians 12 and Ephesians 4) and asks us to put them to good use; and those gifts are the tools we need to accomplish what God has asked us to do.

If you know what Gifts God has given you, and you know what God has asked you to do, have you set your mind to accomplish it? If not, why not?

Romans 12:2 says, “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect” (NLT).

Here are six others who set their will to obey the Lord.

The Apostle Peter broke tradition to offer the Gospel to the Roman rulers.

The Apostle Paul took the Gospel to the entire gentile world and wrote much of the New Testament.

Martin Luther rediscovered the truth that we are saved by Grace: not by anything we can do.

John and Charles Wesley took the Gospel all through England and eastern America. They wrote over 500 hymns, and many are in our hymnals today.

Charles Finney was a lawyer. When he discovered that most of our laws were based on the Holy Bible, he studied it to increase his wisdom in court. Becoming a Christian, he devoted his life to preaching. Soon, the Holy Spirit generated true revival in many towns and businesses that Mr. Finney entered.

God wants persistent, unwavering, confident people in His church. He wants people who will remain loyal and obedient to Him no matter what opposition, storms, or blessings come our way. You can be one of those people.

Are you willing to cooperate with God? If so, what do you willing to do? What do you want in life? Ask the Lord to guide you, and He will.

When Things Go Wrong

Today started out wonderfully. I woke up at the normal time, although my Precious was up two hours previously. Why she wakes up around five in the morning, I don’t know. But she had coffee ready, so her early schedule is fine with me.

We had eggs, sausage, orange juice, and toast—and Coffee with cream and sugar. Of Swedish descent, Carol is a great cook. She would probably be a world-class cook if I could eat pepper, spices, and all the other stuff that comes with being a world-class cook. But she’s fed me well for almost 56 years. I love her and I thank the Lord for her every day.

This morning as we were reading the Bible after breakfast, my ears were pierced by an alarm.

We have a propane stove in the trailer, and we always open a window and turn on the exhaust fan while cooking. That greatly reduces the potential for CO and CO2 in the air and prevents the shrill alarm from offending my ears.

But breakfast was over, what we thought was an emergency was taken care of, window was closed, and the fan was off. Why the alarm?

I jumped up to turn off the sonic ear-buster near the ceiling, but it wouldn’t turn off. That’s when I discovered the propane sniffer at the base of the wall. I forgot that we have two ear-busters in the trailer.

I quickly opened the door, and within five seconds the ear-piercing beeping stopped. What a relief! But now I needed to find the propane leak.

As I began checking all the connections, Carol said, “I found the problem.” and pointed to the stove. “I must have bumped the knob as I was cleaning and turned it on. I turned it off now. But we never tested that sniffer before, and now we know that it works.”

“Yay; it’s always good to know that our equipment works.” We didn’t blame anyone, we were alive, and we finished our Bible-reading.

That was the in the morning. With no internet at our son’s home up in the mountains, I went to the church building in town to do my work.

In the late afternoon as I was heading home, a pickup approached me on the dirt road, raising dust everywhere. “The road’s blocked by a downed pole and power lines. You can’t get home!” the woman hollered as she drove by. I pulled off the road.

Where is the road blocked? How far away? It’s over 45 miles if I try to go around the other way. But would that get me home?

The questions pummeled my mind. As I sat there, four other vehicles ignored the warning and continued on their way. Those same drivers looked aggravated as they came back five minutes later. My silent prayer was, Lord, what should I do?

Then I heard in my mind: Go ahead. It’s okay. So I started the engine and continued. As I reached the area where the car had plowed head-long into the telephone pole, I could see the splintered pole and power-lines strewn across the road.

“Sir, you can’t go any further on this street. The road’s closed until morning, most likely.” the state patrolman said plaintively.

“My friend, I only need to get to Swiss Ranch Road. Is that open?”

His face broke into a smile. “Well now, that’s the only road that’ll be open for a while. The accident happened just past that turn. Have a good evening.” And he waved me through the blockade.

There were no lights in any of the homes or ranches along that road—power was out. So when I reached the house, I prepared for another procedure: power the trailer with the car.

Power had been out for six hours, and the RV battery was nearing depletion, so I backed the car up to the trailer, connected the power cable, and charged the RV battery with my engine for twenty-minutes. I charged it again at 4:30 the next morning, and community power was back on at 5:35 am.

Afterwards, I remember thinking: When things go wrong, it’s good to know my equipment, and know the procedures to keep things running.

And that reminded me of something else: BEFORE things go wrong, we need to be familiar with Holy Scripture, and have an active relationship with the Lord Jesus. Scripture and the Lord give us knowledge and wisdom for life. It was the Lord Who prompted me with, “Go ahead. It’s okay.” Jesus is never wrong.

Friend or Foe?

Wind always fascinated me. My 7-year-old hand became an airplane as I stuck it out the window while Dad drove the 1952 Hudson Hornet at the break-neck speed of 60 miles per hour. I enjoyed watching the wind blow water across the neighborhood as water shot high into the air from our garden hose. Wind was my friend. (The Hornet in this picture is not the car Dad drove. I saw it recently at the Enchanted Trails RV Park in Albuquerque, NM.)

Earlier in life, I enjoyed being outdoors. I was 12 years old. It was Saturday morning with a good breeze blowing across our back yard in El Cajon, California. After breakfast, I assembled my kite, tore up an old pillowcase and made the tail, and gave the kite a test flight. I could have bought a 425-foot-long roll of Megalon string, but dad allowed only 300-foot rolls; so I bought 3 rolls. I named my kite Bird. It took off fast – but nose-dived! Ouch!

I made one adjustment to the tail and tried it again. Beautiful!

I waited for a good gust of wind and launched my Bird. Within a half hour, I had used up one roll of string. Tying the string to a stick, I wondered, why not add another roll of string?

I tied the string securely to the beginning of a new roll. Working the Bird very carefully, I released the second roll of string. I had never put a kite up that far. I was happy, but my natural curiosity began working overtime.

Would I be able to take it up another 300 feet? Let’s try it!

I attached the third roll of string and slowly let it out. At this point, allowing for the angle of the kite’s ascent, the kite was probably 750 feet above the ground and in the main air flow that blew above El Cajon Valley. The Bird was tugging firmly on the stick that the string was tied to.

“Eugene, Mom said it’s time to come in for lunch.”

I don’t remember who the messenger was, but what should I do with the Bird? There was no way I could bring it down in time for lunch. Could I tie it to the fence by the telephone pole and see if it’s still flying in an hour? Why not? What happens if the wind stops blowing? I don’t know, but Mom’s calling, so I’ll find out later.

After lunch, I hurried back outside to check on the experiment. I could hardly believe it! The wind had picked up, and the high-flying Bird was not about to come down. And now I began pondering….

I’ve never had a kite that well-balanced. Probably never will again. I’ve never put a kite up that high. Probably never will again. I’ll never be challenged to fly a kite again. I’ve done it!

After I stood there for about 10 minutes looking at the sight, I cut her loose. It was amazing to watch the Bird fly higher and across the valley until it disappeared out of sight. Did it come down in town somewhere? Maybe. But probably on one of the hills surrounding the valley.

The wind is normally a friend to kite-flyers. Years later I taught my boys to fly kites, but they never matched my experiment with the Bird. Wind also turns the giant turbines on wind farms across the plains which generate electricity.

However, most people also understand that the wind can be an enemy. Trucks and trailers are blown over and their contents get scattered all over the highways. Tornados and hurricanes destroy hundreds, if not thousands, of homes and businesses every year. The wind kicks up tremendous haboobs – dust and sandstorms up to 100 feet high – which cover towns and cities with thick layers of dust and sand.

But wind isn’t the only thing that blows across our lives that either help or hurt us. Our words and attitudes can benefit or destroy people. We can either make their day or ruin it. We can either bless others and help them improve their lives or curse them and send them into a spiral of despair. Look at three verses in Proverbs 15.

Verse 13, “Happiness makes a person smile, but sadness can break a person’s spirit”

Verse 18, “People with quick tempers cause trouble, but those who control their tempers stop a quarrel.”

Verse 28, “Good people think before they speak, but foolish people pour out foolishness.”

Don’t speak words that kick up storms or create devastation; use your words to help people. Be a friend, not a foe. Be a blessing to your community, and God may bless you.

Who Are You?

I recently heard a portion of a conversation. A man named John went to a hospital to visit a bed-ridden, dying man. The name of the man in bed was Tom. (The names have been changed.)

In the early portion of the visit, Tom perceived that his visitor was troubled concerning his vocation. Not wanting to be nosey or pushy, the dying man realized, however, that John was the one who needed to be encouraged. Also, Tom noticed that John was an up-front, forthright kind of man, so Tom jumped right in. As close as I can recall, here is what I heard.

“John, who are you?”

That took John off guard. “Uh, I’m a basketball coach. Why do you ask?”

“If basketball went away, who would you be?”

John thought about it, then mentioned his other vocations, adding that he is a father, a lay-leader at church, and ….”

“John, you’re missing the point of my question. All those things are what you do or have done, and every one of those things will someday not be so any longer. I’m asking you one simple question. WHO are you? If you became an invalid, as I am, who would you be?”

John is like most of us – he never thought of that before. But Tom wasn’t through. He had one more question.

“My friend, here’s how you can figure out who you are. When you die, as I will soon, you will be none of those things you mentioned. As you enter heaven, none of those titles, jobs, and positions you filled will be part of you. None of your importance, influence, prestige, reputation, or money will go with you. Who will you be then? Think about it, John. Who are you?”

John left the hospital perplexed, and that question began rolling around the corridors of my mind. Who am I? I’ll come back to that in a minute.

Dear reader, you and I could spend several days or weeks trying to impress each other about our jobs, our accomplishments, how we’ve changed our company, church, or society. We also have a culturally imbedded idea that what we do is who we are. I am the president of this. I’m the CEO of that. I started this company. I am a pastor. I’m the chief mechanic over this operation. On and on we could go because we strongly identify with what we do.

But is any of that who we are? If we sleep in a garage, does that make us a car?

Bed-ridden, dying Tom was pointing to eternal reality. When all the temporary things in life vanish, when we breath our last, the eternal question is: who will we be? If we can answer that question, we’ll know who we are.

So, who am I? I’ve learned not to tell folks about my accomplishments because it could be considered a matter of pride. Even while I was a pastor, I truthfully said that I didn’t have a ministry. Why? The Ministry belongs to God, and He graciously allowed me to be a part of what He was doing.

Who am I? I am a King’s Kid. I am an adopted son of the Living, Loving, Eternal, Creative, Almighty God. That’s who I am. And I’ll be that forever.

I remember a 1796 song written by Charlotte Elliott. The first verse is: “Just as I am without one plea, But that thy blood was shed for me, And that thou bidst me come to thee, O Lamb of God, I come, I come.”

I asked the Lord to accept me into His family when I was five years old, and I’ve never turned my back on Jesus. Do I sin? Yes, but when I realize it, I ask the Lord to forgive me. And He does. 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Today, I listened to a 1992 song written by Mosie Lister. In addition to being a song-writer, he was a great pianist. The words to the chorus are, “Beyond the Cross is a tomb that is empty, you won’t find Me there anymore. And beyond the tomb is life ever-lasting, and hope forever more.”

Jesus died for us, but He raised back to life three days later. He is alive, and I’ll be alive with Him forever. Who am I? I am an adopted son of God!

Friend, who are you?

In Case You’re Interested ….

There are three books on Amazon that I wrote, and one that five of my siblings and I wrote. I’ll tell you about them in a minute, but first I need to tell you where to find them. Go to Amazon.com: S. Eugene Linzey: Books, Biography, Blog, Audiobooks, Kindle and scroll down to see them. All four are treasure-troves of information, insight, and good reading. You can order either print copies or kindle versions – or both.

I’d been taught that all Christians go to heaven. But how was a Christian supposed to live while on earth? I didn’t see much difference in many people’s lives when they became a Christian or joined a church. On Sundays, most people talked about the Lord, sang, bowed heads in prayer, listened to the pastor – most of them – but something was missing.

Why would the Church of Jesus Christ—including all divisions and denominations–need a charter? Simply because I know many Christians who don’t seem to understand the Faith they claim to believe. Going to church and joining it is not the same as understanding the faith.

The Church, including each member of it, needs to keep in mind that our goal in life is not merely to get to heaven. Our goal in life, both on earth and in heaven, is to be a member of Jesus’ team and grow the Kingdom of God throughout eternity. It is by becoming an adopted child of God, and growing into a mature spokesman for God, that we can fully take our place in the Kingdom. That is why we need to know and understand the teaching in Matthew 5:1-12.

This book, Charter of the Christian Faith, addresses this topic.

Absolute truth is something that is true at all times, in all places, for all people, and in all circumstances. For example, there are no round squares, and there are no triangular circles. We may change the descriptive terms, but that won’t change the facts. On the other hand, temporal truth changes with the passage of time. As an example, I am temporarily not hungry. That is true. But tomorrow, I will be hungry. That also is also true.


But why are so many people on both sides of all fences worked up about the differences in viewpoint? A difference in viewpoint can be healthy as long as we don’t fight over them. To use a verse from Isaiah 1:18, “Come, let us reason together.” However, in reasoning or discussing our viewpoints, we must have a standard against which to measure truth. That’s the crux of the matter. The problem is that too many people on both sides of many fences make mistakes.


Our worldview is the basis for how we live: how we think, how we act, how we respond, what we believe, and how we worship. But a worldview produced with limited input produces a restricted or narrow outlook. I endeavor to write about a variety of topics which, over time, can enable the reader to expand his or her horizons. A person doesn’t even need to agree with me, but reading what I write gets him or her to think; and that is the key to maturing both mentally and spiritually. These are my thoughts, my reflections on life, my beliefs. Read them and compare them with your worldview.

Over the years, we have seen a lot of change in the church. We have seen it change from the big central church of downtown in the 1950s to the outlying mega-church in the 1980s. We have seen hippies who accepted Christ in the Jesus Movement of the 1970s become yuppies in the 1990s. We’ve seen a major shift from mainline denominations to inter- and non-denominational organizations. But our desire through it all has been to teach people both in and out of the church to develop a relationship with Christ. Although we believe that church involvement is necessary, it is the personal relationship with Jesus Christ that will see us through both the problems and the blessings of life.

The Bible is a book about civilization, government, war, and intrigue. It contains drama, history, culture, and a lot more. However, it is primarily a book about faith and spirituality. This book was written to answer many questions to help people sift through the sands of time to gain a better understanding of the Word of God.

This book was written by three brothers and three sisters (six siblings in all) who realized after their parents had passed away, that the family was divided into factions. They also admitted there was much they didn’t know about each other, and they decided to do something about it.


The memories they wrote about prompted spontaneous email conversations and phone calls among the siblings. They found themselves saying things like, “I didn’t know you felt that way!” Or, “I never knew that!” Or even, “Me too!” They started learning about one another and seeing each other in a whole new light, and the conversations that occurred every week became highly therapeutic. They accepted one another, and in the process, learned to love each other more deeply than any of them had ever experienced.


Join them on a journey that spans the past 70+ years, as they tell you the stories of family, faith, and friendship. This is a memoir about love and laughter, anger and attitude, groaning and growing. In many ways, it is a story about coming of age.


“Whether you are a family member, a distant relative, a neighbor, friend, or even a complete stranger, we invite you to join us on this journey as we share our lives with you. We hope you enjoy the stories. Welcome to the family.”

Find these books and order them on Amazon.com: S. Eugene Linzey: Books, Biography, Blog, Audiobooks, Kindle.

Pray for Others

A friend sent a rather lengthy tale to me several decades ago, but I never learned the identity of the author. The story is not a historical account, but more like a parable to illustrate a moral, and the following is a portion of the narrative.

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A ship was wrecked during a storm at sea and only two of the men survived and managed to get to a small island. Not knowing what else to do, they agreed that they had no other recourse but to pray to God.

The first thing the one man prayed for was food. The next morning, he saw a fruit-bearing tree on his side of the island, but the other man’s parcel of land remained barren.

However, to find out whose prayer was more powerful, they agreed to divide the territory between them and stay on opposite sides of the island.

After a week, the first man was lonely and he decided to pray for a puppy. The next day, he found a pooch swimming to his side of the island. On the other side of the island, nothing came ashore.

Soon the first man prayed for a house, clothes, more food. Each time, somehow, the food and the material for all of these came ashore.  However, the second man still had nothing. The first man did, begrudgingly, share some of his food with him.

Finally, the first man prayed for a ship, so that he and his puppy could leave the island. By morning, the wind had blown a deserted boat to his side of the island. He boarded the boat with his puppy and decided to leave the second man on the island.

He thought the other man was unworthy to receive God’s blessings, since none of his prayers had been answered.

As he was about to leave, he heard a voice from heaven booming, “Why are you leaving your companion on the island?”

“My blessings are mine alone, since I was the one who prayed for them. His prayers were all unanswered and so he doesn’t deserve anything.”

“You are mistaken!” the voice rebuked him. “He had only one prayer, which I answered. If not for that, you wouldn’t have received any of my blessings.”

“What did he pray for that I should owe him anything?”

“His only prayer these past two months was that I would answer your prayers.”

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In the legend, both men initially understood their plight, realized that prayer was the only recourse available to them, and amicably began their experiment.

The reason this stood out so strongly to me is that I’ve seen the same qualities in people wherever I go. Some folks are humble, good-hearted, and want what’s best for others. They go out of their way, even to the point of depriving themselves of some benefits of life so they can reduce the hurt and pain others are experiencing. These people are obeying Jesus.

But I’ve also seen other folks who are out to get what they can for themselves. Not helping others in a material way, these self-centered people sometimes go out of their way to destroy reputations, mock others, and make life hard for their imagined enemies.

What those self-absorbed people don’t understand is, the people they are attempting to hurt could be cherished friends if allowed to be.

But let’s continue about the fable above, and perhaps we should reconsider the concept of prayer.

The blessings we receive might not always be the fruit of our prayers alone, but are perhaps benefits from others praying for us. I can write a book about dangerous and life-threatening situations people have faced and how they escaped or survived, but I’ll tell about only one.

My father was in the USS Yorktown during WWII, heading for what would erupt into the Battle of Midway. A terrible fear gripped dad’s mind and he couldn’t do his job. Five thousand miles away, mom had a powerful burden to pray for him … not even knowing where in the world he was. After an hour of intense prayer, mom stopped praying, and the fear suddenly lifted from dad’s mind. Unknown to dad, God answered mom’s prayers.

I encourage all you who are reading this blog: when someone comes to your mind, pray for him or her. Pray however you feel like it, but pray. You may be the “ministering angel” God uses to rescue or help someone.

Happy New Year, Friends

On December 31, 2020, Carol and I spent a quiet New Year’s celebration together. It was relaxing because from 2011 through 2020, we had been home on December 31 only four times. We’d been in California on New Year’s Eve five times and in Florida once. And this past New Year’s Eve we were in New Mexico.

Several friends asked, “Can’t sit still, can ya?” My response is normally, “You find no moss under my wheels.” And we’ve driven over 29,000 miles in 2021.

It’s well-known by our families, friends, and those who read my articles that we enjoy living in Siloam Springs, Arkansas. All cities, towns, and villages have their problems, but we’ve found this town to be one of the more pleasant places we’ve lived. With that in mind, why do we “hit the road” so often?

One quick answer is: our five kids live in five different states, and my siblings are spread out from the West Coast to the East Coast. We enjoy visiting them. We also have the privilege of preaching and teaching in our travels.

A second answer is: we enjoy seeing God’s creation first-hand. Seeing nature in books and on video is great. But nothing beats driving through the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range, seeing the Giant Redwoods in northern California, the amazing Oregon Coast, Puget Sound in the great northwest, the red granite beaches of Maine, the snow-white beaches of Siesta Beach in Florida, seeing Yellowstone and Yosemite National Parks, and HUNDREDS of other places.

We also enjoy seeing the marvels of man’s creation, such as Mount Rushmore in South Dakota, the 605-foot-tall Space Needle in Seattle, and the 630-foot-tall Arch in St. Louis.

Historic sites such as the Yorktown, Virginia battlefield, the Gettysburg Battlefield, and Pearl Harbor cause me to stop and contemplate how different life might have been if the political and military tide had turned the other way.

The third answer is: we’re getting older, and some day our travel days will be over. So let’s travel while we can.

As we travel, we take thousands of pictures to document where we’ve been and what we saw. You see many of them in these blogs. We’re grateful for digital photography, because that’s a lot less expensive than the film we bought in the past. We often get our pictures out (on computer or another device) and through our memory, we enjoy those trips again.

The ability to remember amazes me. When I get to heaven, I want to ask God how He created memory. But I think He’ll simply say: That’s My secret.

As I mentally gaze on our blessings this past year, I’m fully aware that many people have died, others have gotten sick, many have lost homes and businesses due to pandemics, government mistakes, the natural flow of economics, and natural disasters. But sickness, wars, governmental problems, business failures, and all the other problems and catastrophes have been going on since shortly after Adam and Eve left the Garden of Eden. As we read in Ecclesiastes 1:9, “The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.”

The emphasis is: there’s nothing new under the sun. We have modern means of traveling, conducting war, studying, and getting work done, but the essence of life hasn’t changed throughout man’s history. Sickness, death, and all other problems related to life on earth will continue until Jesus stops it. And He will return one day.

But if He doesn’t return soon enough, I will die too. I don’t know by what means, but I will die, and the thought doesn’t bother me at all. Why not? Because that’s life.

In the same concept as midnight on December 31 starts a new year, or a baby being born starts a new life, when my traveling days are over and I breathe my last on earth, I will start a new year, a brand-new life in heaven. It’s part of the Christian’s cycle of life.

However, as badly as I feel for those who have been hurt by various events on earth, I feel worse for those who die while not believing in Jesus Christ. We can start over after a catastrophe on earth, but when we die without faith in Jesus, there is no recovery. Think about it.

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