China: Then and Now

china farm

Family farms where the Chinese people lived for generations were flooded when the Three Gorge Dam was built on the Yangtze River.

The China of yesterday is one of the oldest civilizations known to man. In this land once ruled by Emperors, architectural remains tell the story of how people lived and worked. Located on the eastern part of Asia, the land covers 3.7 million square miles and has over 1.3 million people or one-fifth of the world’s population. In the cities, family apartments and office buildings compete for land space and high-rise structures often reach 50 floors.

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Exploring Europe’s Danube River

danube-river-budapest

The Danube River flows through Budapest, one of Europe’s most interesting cities.

Running through or touching the borders of 10 European countries, the Danube River flows from the Black Forest in Germany and runs into the Black Sea. Covering a journey of 1,785 miles, the river is the second longest in Europe after the Volga River in Russia. Approximately 315,000 square miles make up the drainage area, and it continues to expand. Tributaries number about 300 of which 30 are navigable. The delta area is the second largest in the world and is still growing. At least 5,000 species of plants, birds and animals call the wetlands home. Fishing, once a primary industry has declined over the years. However, over 10 million people in Europe get their drinking water from the Danube.

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Good For the Long Haul: Pastoral Sabbaticals Offer Renewal

Kyle Childress, pastor of Austin Heights Baptist Church in Nacogdoches, said sabbaticals provide enough time away from the demands of the pastorate for a minister to truly rest and renew.

Observing the sabbath can be tough for ministers, but taking time away from the demands of ministry can help them maintain emotional, physical and spiritual health.

2015 LifeWay Research survey of 1,500 pastors of evangelical and historically black churches revealed 84 percent said they are “on call” 24 hours a day. The survey showed 54 percent found the pastor’s role frequently overwhelming, and 48 percent said they often felt the demands of their job to be more than they could handle.

Some ministers “unplug” on a regular basis by turning off cell phones and computers for a prescribed time each week and taking time away from the church office. Some enjoy periodic retreats at conference centers. Others find it hard to get away from the day-to-day grind.

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5 Fantastic Float Trips

The Niangua River is known for its put-in-and-go type floats. Hot summer days often make this a popular float trip near Lebanon/Missouri Life

The day dawned mild and sunny on the Gasconade River in southwest Missouri. As veteran floaters of this waterway, we anticipated a quiet, peaceful trip. And that’s just what we got. Using a large four-seater Osage canoe made in Lebanon, our group put in at Austin Ford on Wright County’s Route E for this short trip, and took out at Buzzard’s Bluff. Handling our own transportation, we tied the canoe to the top of a farm truck.

With two vehicles—one to leave at the pickup point and the other to transport the floaters and canoe—we set off for a day on the river. Packing simple provisions of Spam, saltines, plastic bottles of frozen water, and a few other items, we feasted on a gravel bar with a repast that tasted more like a five-course luncheon than a meal from a can. The bottled water soon warmed—but it was still wet!

Life on the river carries its own unique lessons. Here, the senses are on overload in this peaceful environment. There were times when the only sound was of the paddles dipping and lifting in the current. Once, we froze in silence as an otter and her young cavorted among the tree roots on the nearby bank. Yet these playful little imps showed no fear of us. One of the wiser Missourians in our canoe surmised, “It was because nothing in the water had ever done them harm.” Continue reading

Visiting China’s Historical Sites

The China of yesterday is one of the oldest civilizations known to man. In this land once ruled by Emperors, architectural remains tell the story of how people lived and worked. Located on the eastern part of Asia, the land covers 3.7 million square miles and one-fifth of the world’s population.

In the cities, family apartments and office buildings compete for land space and high-rise structures often reach 50 floors.

With more people owning cars, city streets are congested and filled with bicycles, taxis and tour buses. Yet, in the older areas of the cities and especially on the small rural farms, life continues as it has for generations.

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Changing Trends in Church Fashions

If we could step back in time, say the 1950s, we might not recognize our congregations of today. For example, on a typical Sunday morning, no well-bred Southern woman would think of going to church without a hat, white gloves, a lacy handkerchief tucked into a clutch-bag, high heels and sheer hose with a seam running down the back. For men: a dark suit, long sleeve (starched) white shirt, tie and a fedora.

One pastor friend remembers how the men of his church met and decided it would be appropriate to wear a short sleeve dress shirt with a tie for the evening service. The reason? The church was not air-conditioned.

Not only in church are our clothes becoming less formal, but in other aspects of life. Instead of dressing up to board a plane, we journey in comfortable clothes. In fact, gym clothes seem to be the trend for travel.

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