Telling the Truth, Experiencing Life!

 

Jill’s Daily Devotional: The seed

“A farmer went out to plant some seed. As he scattered it across his field, some seed fell on a footpath, where it was stepped on, and the birds came and ate it.” — Luke 8:5

“Anyone who is willing to hear should listen and understand!” said Jesus (Luke 8:8). He was telling a story about a farmer sowing seed. “The seed is God’s message,” he said (8:11). The speaker can control the message, but cannot control the hearers. The hearers evaluate the word of God as they receive it from the preacher.

All too often, the personality of the preacher gets in the way, and the hearers end up evaluating the preacher, not what he said. If you dislike the man, you probably will have little respect for his message. Yet Jesus said when his farmers—or preachers—scatter the seed, we should receive it.

In a little English churchyard, there stands a tall, beautiful oak tree. There is nothing strange about that, until you realize it is growing right through the middle of a gravestone! The force of life has been so strong that it has split the stones in two as the tree has pushed upward toward the light. What dynamic power in a tiny acorn!

There is similar power in the seed of God. When sown in good soil, though buried underneath concrete, it will break through. The first thing we need to do is receive the seed sown by the preachers God has given us. We must listen to God’s message and then go to God’s Word and discover it for ourselves. The more we study and read, the more that tiny acorn from God’s Word can grow into a strong oak in our lives!

For further study: Luke 8:1-18

Church Pastors / Leadership

The 6 Most Jaw-Dropping Train Routes in the World.

All aboard! Get ready to be amazed by landscapes and history that you just can’t see by plane or car. Climb aboard a luxury railcar and get a front-row seat to witness breathtaking views of the Canadian Rockies. Roll through the unspoiled wilds of Scotland or set eyes on storybook villages in Switzerland. Sit back and relax as we take you on a trip of a lifetime through the six most jaw-dropping train routes in the world.

1. Rocky Mountaineer – Vancouver to Banff, Canada

Rocky Mountaineer – Vancouver to Banff, Canada
This breathtaking train route will give you access to some of the most awe-inspiring views ever! Soak in an endless landscape of snow-capped mountain peaks as the Rocky Mountaineer takes you from the shores of the Pacific Ocean to Banff, Canada’s majestic national park. You will set out from the cosmopolitan city of Vancouver and weave alongside steep canyons ending up in the untamed wilderness of the Canadian Rockies. Along the way, you will be spoiled with first-class service, food, drinks, and scenery as luxury meets wilderness.

 

2. Tranzalpine – Christchurch to Greymouth, New Zealand

Tranzalpine - Christchurch to Greymouth, New Zealand
The only way to take in the Southern Alps of New Zealand is aboard the TranzAlpine, New Zealand’s jaw-dropping rail journey. Climb aboard and experience the South Island’s stunning natural landscape. Along this journey from Christchurch to Greymouth, you will witness epic vistas, voyage along the edges of the ice-fed Waimakariri River and wind through miles of native beech forest. The perfect stop along the way is Moana, which is set amid a remote mountain paradise midway between Arthur’s Pass and Greymouth, and home to the idyllic Lake Brunner. This trip will certainly be a journey of a lifetime.

3. West Highland Line – Glasgow to Mallaig, Scotland

West Highland Line - Glasgow  to Mallaig, Scotland
Fans of the Harry Potter movies will be departing from Platform 9 ¾ for a magical trip to the Scottish Highlands. The West Highland Line is a brilliant way to experience Scotland’s western coast. You will set off from the bustling city of Glasgow and gently wind your way through verdant glens and serene lochs. After a trip through secluded heather moors, the train will pass Ben Nevis, the highest peak on the British Isles. If you would like a wee dram of Scotch, make sure to take a tour of the Ben Nevis Distillery and experience “Uisge beatha” – the water of life.

 

4. Orient Express – Paris, France to Istanbul, Turkey

Orient Express – Paris, France to Istanbul, Turkey
The Orient Express has been associated with both stylish adventures and the golden age of travel for more than a century and its celebrated route takes you between the two most exotic destinations in the world—Paris and Istanbul. After a brief hiatus, its most celebrated route is back! You can journey across Europe and into Turkey’s most famous city in a rolling realm of style and comfort. But you need to really plan this one out because it only makes the journey once a year. Once on board, you will be transported back in time as you explore a collection of romantic cities such as Paris, Budapest, Bucharest and Istanbul.

5. Golden Eagle (Trans-Siberian Railway) – Moscow to Vladivostok, Russia

Golden Eagle (Trans-Siberian Railway) – Moscow to Vladivostok, Russia
The Trans-Siberian Railway is arguably one of the world’s most amazing railway journey’s. It winds across a once secretive Russia, connecting east and west. This fabulous route runs from Moscow over the regal Urals, across the magnificent and endless plains and ends at the port city of Vladivostok. alongside the shores of Lake Baikal, the world’s largest freshwater lake. Start your visit with a couple of days in Moscow and take in the grandeur of the Kremlin and see the treasures of the Tsars in the Armory Chamber. As you roll on west towards Vladivostok, a stop at Lake Baikal will leave you speechless as you stand on the shores of the crystal-clear waters of the world’s oldest and deepest freshwater lake. End your train trek taking in the still waters of the sea surrounding the historic city of Vladivostok.

 

6. Glacier Express – Zermatt to St. Moritz, Switzerland

Glacier Express - Zermatt to St. Moritz, Switzerland
The Glacier Express has to be on any list of greatest train journeys in the world. Express is a relative term on this awesome trip because the train is billed as the “slowest express train in the world.” The route takes you across 291 bridges and through 91 tunnels, up to the mile-high Oberalppass. Travel in comfort as you soak in the traditions and centuries-old Swiss culture. You will be given a front-row seat to the “window of the Alps” as you travel through the unspoiled natural beauty of a land rich in ancient, fragrant mountain forests, peaceful Alpine meadows, and roaring mountain rivers. Highlights of your journey will be a stop in St. Moritz and the alpine village of Zermatt where you can take in breathtaking views of the Matterhorn. Better practice your yodeling skills.

Born in Paris, Jim is a retired lecturer of African Studies and self-described life-long global trekker. His career as an Air Force officer gave him the chance to experience amazing and exotic destinations in Europe, Asia and Africa. He is at home on the golf course or backpacking anywhere there is a story to tell.

 

7 Landmarks to Visit Before They’re Gone Forever

Travel Trivia

While we hope the world’s most important landmarks will remain for future generations to see firsthand, the sad fact is that many have already been destroyed, and countless others are at risk. Here’s a look at seven landmarks to visit before they’re gone forever.

White Cliffs of Dover in England

Credit: LisaValder/iStock

Researchers have found that England’s famous White Cliffs of Dover have been eroding ten times fasterduring the last 150 years versus the 7,000 years before. In the past, the wide beaches in the area helped slow erosion of the iconic white cliffs. However, very little beach remains, accelerating the rate of erosion.

Queen’s Head Rock in Taiwan

Credit: nunawwoofy/iStock

Visit Taiwan, where you’ll find Yehliu Geopark, home to fascinating rock formations. One of these is the iconic “Queen’s Head,” given the name due to its supposed resemblance to Queen Elizabeth I. However, erosion is threatening to behead the queen, who already has a crack at the base. Researchers are worried that the head could break off in the next five to ten years if something isn’t done. Yehliu has now placed guards around the rock to ensure no sabotage, and there are plans to reinforce the rock and continue monitoring erosion.

Stonehenge in England

Credit: grafvision/iStock

Stonehenge’s importance extends beyond the mysterious standing stones that are recognizable around the world. It is part of a larger World Heritage area with unexplored burial grounds, ancient settlements and potentially the key to unlocking the mystery as to why Stonehenge was built. Archaeologists are at war with the British Government, which plans to build a tunnel underneath the site, a move that threatens to potentially destroy important artifacts. Some critics are also extremely concerned that a tunnel could destabilize the neighboring ground and cause the stones to sink, shift or even fall over.

12 Apostles in Australia

Credit: ymgerman/iStock

The 12 Apostles along the Great Ocean Road is one of Australia’s most popular destinations, named for the dramatic limestone stacks seen along the coast. Despite the name, there are not 12 apostles visible. There were originally nine limestone stacks when Victoria Tourism christened them in the 1920s, and now there are only eight after erosion caused one to collapse. With continued erosion, experts estimate more limestone stacks are at risk of disappearing.

Mendenhall Glacier in Alaska

Credit: sorincolac/iStock

Unfortunately, the risk of disappearing is a reality for countless glaciers around the world. Juneau’s famed Mendenhall Glacier is melting at a rapid pace — over 9,000 feet in 100 years. Cameras were installed in 2007 and show that Mendenhall Glacier has retreated more than 1,830 feet — about one-third of a mile — in just eight years.

Petra in Jordan

Credit: prmustafa/iStock

Petra is famous for sandstone buildings, like the iconic Al-Khazneh (The Treasury), that date back to the first century B.C. However, increased tourism and erosion are two factors taking their toll on the ancient site. Erosion has increased due to wind and rain, while site-management issues and structural instability also threaten Petra’s future. However, one of the biggest risks to Petra is the people who visit the site. Tourists leaning on or touching The Treasury have caused the surface to erode by 1.5 inches in only 10 years.

The Dead Sea

Credit: vvvita/iStock

The shores of the Dead Sea are changing rather dramatically as it continues to shrink at a rather alarming rate. Experts estimate it could become a tiny pool by the middle of this century. On average, the sea levels are falling by as much as five feet per year. Some resorts and spas have been forced to close, while others that were once beachfront properties are taking visitors down to the shore by tractor train.