GOD’S GREAT OUTDOORS by Larry Whiteley




I was on my way to our cabin when I saw it. I am sure I’ve seen it lots of other times. It was just a glimpse as I drove by. Why did it bother me so much then? It was just a bulldozer knocking over a tree. That happens all the time in today’s world. We have to have more convenience stores, banks, and shopping centers don’t we? 

People have always cleared fields of trees. They did it to grow crops or raise cattle so they could feed their families. The trees were used for firewood to keep them warm. Now, they push over trees and just burn them to get rid of them. When the shopping centers are done, people take their families there to feed them or shop.

What really amazes me is to see developers clear the land of trees for a new housing complex and then name the streets after them. Then, people that buy the houses go to the local home improvement store or nursery to spend hundreds of dollars on small trees to plant in their yards that will take years to grow as big as those that were once there. 

As I kept driving, I tried to think about what I needed to get done when I got to my cabin surrounded by the trees of the Mark Twain National Forest. I tried to listen to what the guy on the radio was saying. It didn’t do any good. I kept seeing the bulldozer pushing over the tree. Why couldn’t I get it out of my mind? It was just a tree.

Maybe it bothered me so much this time because I’m getting older and wiser. Well, older anyway. My mind took me back to when I was a kid growing up on the farm. I would spend all day wandering around in the woods. The trees hid me from all the Indians that were after me. I dodged their arrows as I ran from tree to tree. My imagination entertained me back then. I didn’t need TV, video games or a smart phone. Thank God my kids grew up enjoying the woods. Now my grandkids are discovering the wonder of the woods, climbing trees, and carving initials. 

Other days, I would climb up into a trees comforting arms and soak in the wonder of the woods or just daydream. I can still remember the odd shape, a weird knot, the feel of the bark on certain trees. I wonder if some of those trees are still there. I wonder if my initials are still carved in them.

As I got older, I would head to the woods with my dog Bo and my little single shot .22 bought with money I had earned. I still have that gun and the memories of knowing I only had one shot so I couldn’t miss when that squirrel ran out on a limb. We didn’t have a lot of extra money to be buying more .22 shells and that squirrel was supper.

I still enjoy hiking in the woods. I love the kaleidoscope of fall colors. I still climb trees but now it’s to sit in a treestand waiting for a deer to walk by. My granddaughter poses for pictures on a grapevine swing. My grandson loves to hunt squirrels and deer now too. I smile as I watch them and I remember.

What was that the guy on the radio just said? “And he created the heavens and the earth.” He created all the trees too didn’t he?

It shouldn’t be bothering me about seeing that tree pushed down. After all, I cut down trees too don’t I? Their wood keeps our cabin warm during the cold of winter. They are also magically transformed into hiking sticks, candle holders, lamps, coat racks and lots of other things in my workshop. 

I am wise enough to know that if your home is shaded by trees, your air conditioner won’t run as much and you’ll save money on electricity. You might even be able to open your windows and enjoy a fresh breeze. Cleaning the gutter, picking up limbs and raking leaves is a small price to pay.

Even my 10-year old grandson can tell you that the more trees you cut down, the less oxygen you have. Oxygen – you know the stuff that helps you breathe. I read somewhere that a single tree is valued at over $13,000 during its lifetime for the oxygen it provides. Multiply that times the number of trees in your yard, if you have trees in your yard.

Trees also are important to the wildlife that use them. Birds and squirrels build nests, turkeys roost, deer rub, woodpeckers peck. They feed on the nuts, berries, and insects they provide. 

Fish and other aquatic species also rely on trees for shade along their watery homes. When they die and fall into the water they provide fish habitat and safety from predators.

I pull into my cabin and a song is playing on the radio. As I listen, I’m not upset anymore. The words roll over in my mind as I look around at all the trees. “He grew the tree that he knew would be used to make the old rugged cross.” You see, that was the most important tree of all. 

JUNE 15, 2018


Something to Think About by Larry Whiteley




Retailers and marketing companies promote the 4th of July as a time to buy fireworks and decorations, food for family cookouts, and American flags to display in your yard. There are 4th of July sales everywhere. Just like Christmas, Easter and other holidays it has become a time to sell, sell, sell and buy, buy, buy. 

Barely a word is mentioned by the news media as to why we really should be celebrating on the 4th of July. Most kids have no idea why we shoot off fireworks. We need to teach them that July 4th is Independence Day. It is the day in 1776 when congress approved the Declaration of Independence giving us our independence from Britain. July 4th marks the birthday of the United States of America. 

As Christians, all of us at Sac River Cowboy Church should be thankful we have an Independence Day to celebrate. America offers significant religious freedom for Christians to worship. In many places around the world you can lose your job, be arrested, or even find yourself sentenced to death for following Christ. We can attend the church of our choice, openly read the Bible on our own or with others, and openly pray to God. 

Despite ongoing legal challenges to certain Christian activities in America, we still enjoy great religious freedom. That is certainly something to celebrate on Independence Day. 

Military veterans, current military personnel, as well as their family members should all be honored on Independence Day. We often forget our freedom of religion and other freedoms can only continue if our armed forces protect our nation and national interests. 

We should also thank God on Independence Day for the opportunity to participate in the democratic process of our nation. While politics is often viewed negatively, we have the freedom to vote as we please to try to make a difference. We have a voice within the political process. 

Despite significant violence through protests, shootings and more, our nation remains free of war within its own borders. Most of us take this peace for granted, yet millions worldwide long for a single night of rest without fear of attack in their communities. We can at least take a moment on not just Independence Day but every day to thank God for the peace He has provided for all of us. 

God bless America! 


JUNE 15, 2018


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