The world is full of spectacular scenic
vistas and marvels of God’s creativity. Last week Isaura and I drove to
Carefree, Arizona where I was to officiate a wedding for a Marine friend and
his bride. Since we were going to be in the neighborhood, so to speak, my wife
and I decided to take in some sight-seeing. Neither of us had ever been to the
Grand Canyon, so we made plans to take in this famous American landmark.
The wedding and the festivities associated
with this special day was very enjoyable. After a pleasant brunch Isaura and I
left Carefree on Sunday, driving north to the Sedona area some two hours away. Sedona was named after Sedona Arabelle Miller Schnebly (1877–1950), the
wife of Theodore Carlton Schnebly, the city's first postmaster, who was
celebrated for her hospitality and industriousness.
The beauty of
the orange-red rocks to be appreciated has to be seen up-close and personal. This
is a very popular area but even if all you do is drive along Highway 89, you
will be stunned by the magnificent red sandstone walls of rock which rise from
the ground like so many monolithic creatures. I thought to myself, “How could
the Grand Canyon be any more spectacular than these red rock cliffs in Sedona?”
We still had
two hours of driving before we would arrive at the Best Western Hotel in the
city of Grand Canyon. We’ve stayed in many Best Westerns over the years, but
this one was absolutely plush! And the price was very reasonable.
After a good
night’s sleep, we grabbed a bite from the very well stocked Continental
Breakfast. Our tour was with Pink Jeep Tours on Monday morning. And yes, the
jeeps and mini-buses are all painted a shocking pink! Our guide/driver, Kyle,
for the three-hour tour was delightful. I took notes so I could share the fun
of this trip. The rest of the article is taken from those notes.
The morning for
our tour was a beautiful, clear day. Blue sky and a smattering of snow from a
previous snowfall awaited us when we opened our hotel room curtains. The
temperature was a balmy 40 degrees. I mention this because Kyle told us that
had we been there the week before we would have had entirely different weather.
The temperature then was -19. That’s right! Minus 19!
We were able to
drive right up to the gate of the Grand Canyon National Park. Again this seemed
unimportant until Kyle explained that during the summer months you might have
to wait in a line of cars and tour buses for an hour or more just to get into
the park. The average number of visitors to the Grand Canyon annually is five
million, most of who come during the summer. He listed a number of wildlife
that can be seen in the park: mule deer, elk, foxes, big-horned sheep, bald
eagles, mountain lions, wild turkeys, the occasional black bear, and the
of the South Rim is 7,400 feet above sea level. The Colorado River meanders
through the cavernous gorge that is the Grand Canyon, roughly one mile straight
down from the rim. If, on the other hand, you wanted to walk down to the river
from the rim, it would take seven miles to get to the bottom. In the summer,
Kyle said the temperature down at the river reaches 115 degrees. Sadly, the
Canyon is not without a disturbing statistic. There are between 15-40 people
who die annually in the Grand Canyon. Some expire due to dehydration, while
others accidentally fall, or use the Canyon to commit suicide.
There are pine
nut trees and junipers all over the flat rimmed area. One interesting point is
that the juniper’s age can be determined by the size of the tree. Every 11
inches in circumference equals one hundred years of growth, so says Kyle. From
where we stood at the Desert View Tower we could see Navajo Mountain in Utah,
something around 100 miles away. It is only possible to see this mountain
during the winter months when the air is clear.
As we stood on
the South Rim peering out over the vastness of the Canyon, I asked Kyle how
long the Grand Canyon was. Personally I had no idea, but I wasn’t ready for his
answer. “The Canyon is 268 river miles long,” he said. A river mile, he
explained, measures every twist and turn the river makes. The North Rim of the Grand Canyon, which is close to Las
Vegas, Nevada, is another 1500 feet above the South Rim, making it nearly 9,000
We ended up at
the Desert View Tower, a brick construction that was built in 1933 strictly as
an observation tower situated on a prominent point overlooking the Canyon.
Architect Mary Colter designed the tower which she then had built by hiring
Hopi Indian laborers and artists. The brick was taken from ancient Indian structures
that were in ruins in the 1930s, and built the 70-foot tower. It is a
magnificent structure, rustic in design, but fabulous in its simplicity and
So if you’ve
never been, and think you might want to go, check it out and make your plans.
Kyle says the best time of year to go is in the months of September and
October. But whenever you go, prepare to be amazed at God’s handiwork!
I have written on the topic of guns
and so-called “gun control” before. Just last summer I addressed this problem
yet again following the shooting that took place at the movie theater in
Aurora, Colorado. The title for that August 1st article? “Guns
Again!” So, now in the aftermath of the ghastly death of 20 school children and
six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, the
hysteria level is through the roof. Not only is there an attempt to control
guns within the greater populace, but the move is to remove guns from “We the
The amount of information on this
topic is enough to “sink a battleship,” as the old saying goes. It is not my
intent, therefore, to rehash what has already been written. I have personally read
endless articles ad nauseam attempting
to gain a reasonable balance on this subject, but the line of disagreement on
this topic is literally breathtaking for its brashness and vitriol.
No doubt you have read about guns being
removed from the German people in the 1930s and the obligatory comparisons to
America’s battle over gun control today. Then there are the stories about the
removal of guns from the people of Australia. I have read articles about our
Aussie friends that claim the rise in crime “Down Under” is frightening since guns
have been outlawed; and at the same time I’ve read articles claiming that the
rate of crime, particularly violent crime (read: guns), has been significantly
reduced. Which do you believe? But is that even the question to ask?
The arguments from both sides are
frequently written so as to confuse the issue, or to appeal to the emotions, or
to fall back on the ever popular “It’s for the children!” mantra.
Allow me to cut to the chase.
When the issue of gun control pops up
it has more to do with those who ultimately control the guns. In the case of
Germany as mentioned earlier, it was decided by the Hitler regime that only
certain people and groups would be allowed to have guns. This placed every
other German citizen at the mercy of the ones who controlled guns.
In America today there are hundreds
upon hundreds of state and federal gun control laws. It is virtually impossible
to enforce these laws, yet every time we have another senseless shooting that
staggers our senses, our politicians quickly jump on the need for stricter gun
control. This obviously plays well with those who are fearful of violence. So
they are willing to surrender Constitutional rights for the smoke-screen of gun
Just a couple of weeks ago a man broke
into a home where a mother and her twin nine-year olds were enjoying the
comforts of their home. The mother heard the bad guy knocking on the door at
one o’clock. Something did not seem right to this lady, so she ushered her kids
into a closet where there was a crawl space for them to hide. She took up her defensive
position in the closet, brandishing a pistol she had been trained to use, and
waited. When the bad guy opened the closet door she started banging away – Pop,
Pop, Pop, Pop, Pop, Pop! All six rounds. The perpetrator was hit five times in
the face and neck, falling to the floor. She grabbed her kids and ran to a
neighbor’s home. The guy, surviving the flurry of bullets, was shortly picked
up by the police. What might have happened if this lady did not know how to use
a gun? We read about those stories all the time. Certainly a person should be
allowed to defend themselves against personal attack. But there’s more.
question then is about rights. It has been said that the 2nd
Amendment does not give us the right to bear arms, because rights can only come
were first made in 12th Century China. So it was several centuries
later that guns were a problem in England. The king, James the II, fearful of
his enemies, decided that Protestants should not be allowed to have guns. An
English law, the 1689 Bill of Rights, changed all that. “Subjects, which are
Protestants, may have Arms for their Defense.”
The issue is one of taking the
necessary steps to protect oneself from an overbearing, intrusive and unjust
government. Because our Founding Fathers in America, most of who came from
England, remembered well the problem of gun control in Jolly Old England, made
sure those same provisions were implemented in the U.S. Constitution. The
Second Amendment reads, “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the
security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall
not be infringed.” To infringe means “to encroach upon in a way that violates
law or the rights of another.”
My point is this: When the government
attempts to subvert the Constitution by violating those Amendments which were
intended for the protection of “We the people,” then we cannot remain silent.
I, along with my fellow countrymen,
have the Constitutional right to protect and defend.
last week’s article, Civil War Reflections, I mentioned that I would address an
issue that has been raised about the cursing that has been included in the
recently released movie, “Lincoln.” Quite a bit of ink has been used in the
debate over the historicity of profanity being used by President Lincoln and
those around him. Depending on the individual Lincoln historian, will determine
their take on how much accuracy there is in the 16th President’s use
of, and tolerance for “cussin’.”
is true that Lincoln was known to enjoy telling some off-colored jokes occasionally,
and he even used curse words when his temper was riled. But as a rule the
president was very opposed to the use of profanity particularly in normal
conversation. He was known to have corrected his generals for using such
language without reason. Officers were subject to courts-martial if they were
found guilty of using foul language. Enlisted men would have their pay docked
for the same offense.
then, did all of this mean that there was virtually no swearing during the
Civil War period (1861-65)? Of course not! It was a problem then as it is now,
only then there was more of a civility and courtesy, particularly in the presence
of women and children that we have lost in today’s society. Letters written
home by soldiers during the Civil War often referred to the vices of their
fellow soldiers, the greatest of these being, gambling, cussing, and whoring.
One soldier commented that army camp life was a real test for the Christian because
of all the bad habits that were so openly flaunted.
of the words used a few times in the Lincoln movie was the repugnant F-word. Though
this word was in use at the time in America, its origins are purportedly from
England. The word had not become that familiar to the American form of English,
nor did it carry the full meaning of the word in all of its vulgarity as it
does today. It is highly unlikely that Mr. Lincoln used it, though we cannot be
can be fairly stated that Lincoln’s command of the English language is without
question, and most notably demonstrated when he penned the Gettysburg Address
while traveling by train to that noble, historic site to help commemorate a
cemetery for the Union soldiers who fell in battle there. One of the ironies of
this ceremony at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania is that another individual was chosen
as the guest speaker, and not the president! Edward Everett, member of the
House of Representatives from Massachusetts, had a colorful career in public
service. He was a member of the Whig Party, served as U.S. Representative,
U.S. Senator, the 15th Governor of Massachusetts, Minister to Great Britain, and
United States Secretary of State. He also taught at Harvard University and
served as president of Harvard. Mr.
Everett spoke at Gettysburg for two hours prior to Lincoln. He later wrote the
president, expressing his admiration for the Gettysburg Address by stating, "I should be glad, if I could flatter
myself that I came as near to the central idea of the occasion, in two hours,
as you did in two minutes."
of Lincoln’s masterful works was his Emancipation Proclamation, a speech which was
crucial in opening the door for slaves to be free. On a web site about the
Emancipation Proclamation I found this bit of insight: On
September 22, 1863, soon after the Union victory at Antietam, President Lincoln
issued a preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, declaring that as of January 1,
1863, all slaves in the rebellious states "shall
be then, thenceforward, and forever free." While the Emancipation
Proclamation did not free a single slave, it was an important turning point in
the war, transforming the fight to preserve the nation into a battle for human
My favorite “Lincoln Language” is
his letters to the families of fallen soldiers. The following letter to a Mrs.
Bates, exemplifies the president’s heart and compassion for those grieving for
their loved ones.
There is no greater challenge for a commander of troops, or
the Commander-in-Chief, than to have to write a letter to a family regarding the
death of their child/loved one.
Executive Mansion, Washington, Nov.
I have been shown in the files of
the War Department a statement of the Adjutant-General of Massachusetts that
you are the mother of five sons who have died gloriously on the field of
I feel how weak and fruitless must
be any words of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a
loss so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering to you the
consolation that may be found in the thanks of the Republic they died to save.
I pray that our Heavenly Father may
assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished
memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours, to have
laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of Freedom. Yours, very sincerely and
Little wonder that Abraham Lincoln
was, and is, still so loved and revered by Americans.
of you who have been reading my column during the past ten years know that I
have a particular love and interest in our American Civil War. My fascination
with this period in our nation’s history is due to my love of history in
general, and because of my own family’s involvement in this “War of Northern
Aggression,” as my southern relatives regarded this intrusion into their lives.
great-grandfather, the Reverend Daniel Thatcher Lake, was in his mid-30s when
he enlisted in support of the Confederacy. He was a member of Whitfield’s
Legion, Patterson’s Brigade, formed in East Texas where he pastored a church.
One of my great delights is to have in my possession his original handwritten
memoirs. This document is priceless to our family as it covers his entire life
(1828-1891), but more importantly, he delves into his participation in the
Civil War. His actual time served was less than a year due to war injuries
which were severe enough for him to be discharged, whereupon he returned home
also have his “spectacles,” or reading glasses which he used later in his life.
When I first received these from his granddaughter, about twenty years ago, I
took them to my optometrist in Turlock. He was fascinated with them and
immediately checked them out to determine the quality of the magnification.
They were most likely made around the 1870-80 time period. He was so impressed
with the quality that he jokingly said he could personally use them as a backup
other item I cherish is my great grandfather’s saddlebag hymnbook he used in
his circuit riding ministry throughout East Texas. It is such family items as
this which I began to acquire about twenty-five years ago that piqued my
interest in our own personal family history.
often enjoy sitting down to read from several of my Civil War books that tell
about the many odd, strange, and unusual aspects of the War Between the States.
I can spend countless hours immersed in this part of our history.
me give you an idea of what I mean. How many names can you remember that are
used in referring to the Civil War? In fact, the term, Civil War, was used
during the war and subsequently by both sides in the conflict. It is the term
most often used today. Here’s as complete a list of the names for the war as I
have been able to compile. 1. The Civil War, 2. The War Between the States
(President Franklin Delano Roosevelt used the term, with some embellishment,
“The Four-Year War Between the States”), 3. The War of Secession (Union troops
frequently referred to their Confederate counterparts as “Secesh,” used as a
pejorative), 4. The War of Northern Aggression, 5. The War of Southern
Aggression, 6. The War for the Union, 7. The Second American Revolution, 8. The
War of the Rebellion, 9. The War for Southern Independence (a poem written in
the South referred to the war as, “The Third War for Independence,” the first
being the American Revolution of 1776, the second being the War of 1812), 10.
The American Civil War, 11. The U.S. Civil War (#s 10 & 11 used by foreign
publications), 12. The Confederate War, 13. Mr. Lincoln’s War (referring to
President Abraham Lincoln), 14. Mr. Davis’s War (referring to the president of
the newly formed Confederate States of America, Jefferson Davis), 15. The War
Against Slavery, 16. The Anti-Slavery War, 17. The Late Unpleasantness, 18. The
Recent Unpleasantness, 19. The Great Rebellion, 20. The Freedom War, used by
blacks to emphasize the reason for, and the results of, the Civil War.
me finish my musings on Civil War reflections by speaking directly of President
Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the United States. Early in
the Civil War he traveled to visit one of the Union camps under the command of Major
General Ambrose Burnside. Mr. Lincoln was proud of his 6’4” size (although tall
even by today’s standards, it is far from unusual) and always made it a point
to see if there was another man who was as tall, or taller, than he. No sooner
had the president arrived in camp than he spied out a strapping young man whom
he quickly beckoned to stand beside him. “Turn around, young fellow,” he is
alleged to have said, “and put your back against mine while I take off my hat.”
Lincoln was nearly seven feet tall when wearing his top hat! As it turned out,
Mahlon Shaaber, the young fellow in question, measured in at 6’6½”.
another occasion late in the war, the president was traveling aboard a Navy
ship on his way to visit other commands. It was the honor of the USS Malvern to
transport their Commander in Chief. So, the captain of the ship instructed the
ship’s chief carpenter with the task of reconfiguring one of the bunks so as to
add an additional foot to its length, thus accommodating the comfort of the
president while sleeping on board.
month is President’s Day, although for those my age and older, we remember when
we recognized President Abe Lincoln’s birthday (February 12) and then President
George Washington’s birthday (February 22). These two men were of exemplary
character, holding firmly to a strong ethical code and moral underpinning,
uniquely qualifying them to be leaders of our fledgling nation.
my column for next Wednesday I will look further into the character of Mr.
Lincoln. It is my understanding that the recently released full-length motion
picture, “Lincoln,” has a fair amount of swearing in it, even using the foulest
of words. I’ve been told the character of Lincoln actually uses this word himself
in the movie. This would qualify as “historical revisionism” at its worst.
First-hand accounts of Mr. Lincoln recorded in history books reveal something
you read this article I want you to remember this statement: “Yes you can!”
am I talking about? Simple. I want you to make a decision for the New Year to
begin by committing to memory Bible verses each week. I can hear you now: “I
can’t do it. I’m no good at memorizing.”
of you has learned to memorize your phone number, mailing address for home and
work, dates of importance, the names of friends, neighbors and co-workers,
certain channels of your favorite TV shows, etc. Yes you can!
to the bother of memorizing Bible verses? The first and best reason is because
it honors God. That’s a wonderful way to begin 2013, don’t you agree? In fact,
the first verse you may want to work on is Psalm 119:11. “Your word have I treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against
you.” God’s Word is an invaluable gift to us. Commit it by heart to your
reason to memorize is it helps you to think the way Jesus thinks. One of the
difficulties in living for the Lord is that we don’t know how to quite get past
thinking from a godless, worldly perspective. Such thought patterns are
usually well ingrained, and we have become accustomed to justifying such
thoughts because it’s too hard to change. Remember! Yes you can! In Isaiah 55:8-11,
God says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither
are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the
earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
As the rain and the snow come
down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making
it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the
eater, so is my word that
goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what
I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”
another reason to make the effort to learn God’s Word by heart is the door it
opens for you when you pray. When you know Bible verses by heart, the Lord will
bring those verses to your mind when you are praying. It gives you something to
focus on. For instance, you may be concerned about a single mom on your block
with three kids and she’s working two jobs. “Lord, is there something I can do
for her?” you pray. And then the Lord brings to your memory a verse from James
1:27. “Religion that God our Father accepts
as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their
distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” God is directing you as his agent to take action. Either
personally to provide something for this family, or to arrange for others to
reason is when you have the Word memorized you are often able to offer a word
of encouragement to someone. Perhaps a friend or family member has just been
laid off and they are feeling discouraged. You could share this word of promise
from God’s Word from Proverbs 3:5-6. “Trust
in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge
he will make your paths straight.”
importantly, God’s Word is described as being “living and active.” These are
not merely words written on a piece of paper. Anyone can do that! But God has
gone to extraordinary lengths to insure that you and I have his Word. It gives
life to our very soul! In Hebrews 4:12-13, we read, “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any
double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and
marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid
bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”
live right down the street from Blue Diamond Almond Company. Their slogan is,
“A can a week is all we ask.” So as you look into 2013, decide right now that
you will begin committing to memory God’s Word. “A verse a week is all God asks.”
Try it, you’ll like it!