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If you are 55+ -- willing to admit it – and didn’t go with us on this trip, I’d like to tell you just what you’re missing!  First of all, this group takes these trips on a very comfortable Mid-America bus.  You just sit back, tell everyone around you how great your grandchildren are, and leave the driving to them!  Then we stay in very clean, modern hotels with an excellent complimentary breakfast and free cobbler and ice cream before you go to bed!! Do I have your attention yet?? Also, you can’t beat the price, because as a group you get reduced rates that you wouldn’t get otherwise.  If you don’t think that is a good deal, just ask any of the 60 people who went with us on this trip.

The “main attraction” for this trip to Branson was to see the play “Samson” at the “Sight and Sound” theatre.

If you haven’t experienced this theatre, you’re really missing a great experience.  What they are able to do with scenery, sound and special effects is equal to or better than you would see in a “Broadway Theatre”!!  We have seen such plays as “Noah and the Ark,” “Miracle of Christmas,” “Joseph,” “Moses,” “Jonah,” and now “Samson.”  Each time before going, you wonder: “How are they going to ‘simulate’ the ark?”  “How are they going to make the Red Sea divide?”  “How are they going to simulate Jonah being eaten by a fish?”  This time (Samson), I was a little concerned the whole theatre would implode in the last scene.  One of the great things about all of these plays is that at the end they transition to the connection between the story and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  It was a great experience and brought the Bible story of Samson to life!

After the play, we took a short ride to Point Lookout, MO. for dinner at the College of the Ozarks.  For many of us, this wasn’t our first time to do this, but it is always very satisfying in many ways.  First of all, this is a college where the students earn their tuition by working 15 hours per week in a vocation that interests them.  So, the restaurant is completely managed and manned by students. We were welcomed into a banquet room with linen covered tables, and just like a five-star restaurant, enough forks and knives that forced you to pay attention to the rules of etiquette. There were screens on the wall that said “Welcome, First Baptist Church of Wentzville.”  The food was great and served with a smile.

Let me just say a little more about this college.  It is a fully accredited liberal arts college.  Students are able to obtain degrees without being burdened afterward with an enormous student loan.  The work program allows students to learn vocational skills in a wide variety of occupations.  Let me just insert their mission, vision and goals from their webpage:

Mission:

The mission of College of the Ozarks is to provide the advantages of a Christian education for youth of both sexes, especially those found worthy, but who are without sufficient means to procure such training.

Vision and Goals:

The vision of College of the Ozarks is to develop citizens of Christ-like character who are well-educated, hard-working, and patriotic. To achieve this vision, the College has Academic, Vocational, Christian, Patriotic and Cultural goals. Even as College of the Ozarks has evolved through secondary and junior college stages to the present four-year liberal arts institution, the fundamental goals of our no-tuition college have remained the same.

We learned that it was highly sought after. They said they receive over four thousand applications a year, but only three hundred fifty students are accepted. So, we not only had a very satisfying meal but felt that we were contributing to worthy students’ education.  After our dinner, we rode back to our hotel in Branson for free cobbler and ice cream before retiring for the night.

 

On Saturday morning, after our complimentary breakfast, we again headed south to Lampe, MO. for a day at Dogwood Canyon Nature Park.  This is a 10,000-acre park, straddling the Missouri – Arkansas line.  Not at all extraordinary, unless you like open-wooded areas, with trout-filled streams, waterfalls, and close up views of deer, elk, bison, and long-horned cattle in their natural habitat.  It was a beautiful morning and we all boarded these open trams (pulled by a truck) for a two-hour tour of the canyon.  There was a guide on each tram that would point out the sites such as the “Glory-Hole” (a cave, beneath and behind a waterfall), a pond filled with “Golden Trout” that can only be found in this park, and another site in California.  The two hours seem to fly by.  We were brought back to a pavilion (beside the “trout-filled stream”) where we had a picnic lunch.  After lunch, while we were waiting for the tram to pick us up and take us back to the entrance lodge, Mark Hodge strolled down along the stream and “lo and behold,” there leaning against a tree was a fishing rod with a fly on the end on the line. With just a few casts and in a matter of minutes, Mark caught two rainbow trout (2+ lbs.).  Pictures were taken and then they were released back into the stream.  When we returned to the lodge, many of us checked out the large treehouse behind the lodge built by “Treehouse Masters” who have a series on TV.  Maybe it’s just because I like the outdoors, but I could have stayed there in that park and explored for at least a couple weeks.  It was a very memorable experience that I would definitely do again.

So, that was the “boring” weekend the “Seniors” had to suffer through.  All of that, plus the fellowship, making new friends, and getting to know each other is priceless.  We’re not at all a club or “closed group”.  You are welcome to join us in the many activities we have each year. Visit our table in the foyer before or after Sunday morning worship.  Find out what is coming up and join in the fun.

God Bless, Dan Hubbell

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We have all heard the saying “Freedom Isn’t Free.” How true it is and verified by the many military cemeteries here and abroad, where lie buried the many young men who gave their lives for the sake of our freedom.  Unfortunately, we live in a broken world where there are evil forces that would rob of us our freedom.

We have been very blessed to live in a very unique country.  Pilgrims first found their way here to have “religious freedom.”  The founders of our Nation recognized that we were beholden and subject to “our creator.”  They based our Constitution on the principles taught in the Bible.  As a result, God has blessed America and allowed us to grow and prosper more than any other nation on earth.  As Americans, I’m afraid we take many of our freedoms and rights for granted.  When we travel to many of the other countries in the world, we experience “cultural shock,” realizing that there is oppressive government control and they do not have the same “freedoms” we have.

With that being said, what “responsibility” do we, as Christians, have to support and maintain “Freedom?”

First, I would like to start with the response Jesus gave to the scribe who asked which command was most important.  Jesus answered: 

Mark 12:30-31:  And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this isthe first commandment. And the second islikeit, namelythis, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.

If we obeyed these commands, it would cover our other “responsibilities.”  Our country has become so divided over the last few years that we find it difficult to “love” anyone who disagrees with us.  Well, I’ve got news for you.  Jesus considers them your “neighbor!” 

Paul gives us more guidance in:

Romans 12:18-21: If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.  Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rathergive place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance ismine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good

Does this mean as Christians we shouldn’t be in the military? No, Israel had their armies under Joshua and David and with God’s help defeated their enemies. God says in:

John 15:12-13:  This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. 

He also tells us in:

Luke 20:25:And he said unto them, Givetherefore unto Caesar the things which be Caesar's, and unto God the things which be God's.  

We are also told that we should be obedient to authority in:

Romans 13:1-4:  Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resiststhe power, resiststhe ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.  For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he bearsnot the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to executewrath upon him that doeth evil. 

 

Is there ever an exception to this?  Yes, remember when Peter and the “other apostles” were told not to preach or teach about Jesus?

Acts 5:29:  “Then Peter and the otherapostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men. 

It is only when man’s law conflicts with God’s law that you must choose to disobey!  This brings us to the political aspect of our responsibility.  There are many who run for political office who disavow God, and who would promote sinful practices, such as abortion, homosexuality, and lawlessness.  We should be informed as to a candidate’s values and principals, and support those who hold the values, faith, and vision to lead our Country.  George Washington once said: “It is impossible to rightly govern a Nation without God and the Bible!”  That is the kind of person we want to see in office.

So, we should be willing to serve our Country when called to do so. We should be informed and vote for candidates with the right values.  We should take a stand, and let our voices be heard against evil.

Mark 8:35-38: For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's, the same shall save it. For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for hissoul?Whosoever therefore shall be ashamedof me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels

The most powerful tool we have is prayer.  Many times, we find ourselves depending on our government or our military to protect us, when it is God Who is in control of all things.  He said in:

2 Chronicles 7:14: If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."

 

We need to continually be praying for our Country, our leaders, our brave military, our ministers, those who disagree with us, and those who are lost. Then we need to put all our hope, trust and dependence in God and accept His will:

Romans 8:28:  And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to hispurpose.

God Bless,
Dan Hubbell

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