Archive for June, 2019

Snapping Turtle

Look at that eye!

This morning I was surprised to see a Snapping Turtle walking across a stony site. I moved to about twelve feet when the critter stopped and pulled his appendages close to the shell.  I didn’t like the site for photos and eventually walked up to the reptile. This feller didn’t want picked up and those snapping jaws reminded me to not allow my fingers to get too close.

Snapping Turtle

I grasped the carapace (Shell) and moved the snapping reptile to a grassy area with water. I needed to wait for a time until the two of us bonded in trust. Alas! I was getting some photos in a natural environment.

After some time the turtle turned and began digging in the mud to bury itself.







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Indian Pipe (s)

There is no doubt about it, Locally here in western Pennsylvania we have witnessed many gallons of rain. Within the last two weeks I had been rained upon while fishing for carp, forfeited mush needed hiking times and trying to keep my lower flood-prone back yard mowed. And, I have been carefully watching for skunks within feet of my kitchen and basement doors. The old girl had babies and recently they have become restless and started digging more. Lots of landscape repairs once they exit the area.


Despite rains I have fished a little and hikes a little. I caught some Smallmouth Bass in the Allegheny River a few weeks ago. (Today the Allegheny is high and swift and muddy!) I have been playing a lot of music as of late, too. For instance, last week I played six times.  So I have been busy.

I have been taking photos on these limited times. Today was a very nice first day of summer. NO RAIN!








Berry Season


Great-spangled Fritillary


A dainty White Iris. (I found some flowers in the woods in 2018.)


Seventeen-year Cicada


Red Squirrel


Smallmouth Bass


Garter Snake


Wood Duck Drake

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Verses Leading To Salvation
Larry A. Smail

This study will detail verses with information for attaining salvation through the words of scripture. Much confusion over this vital knowledge is found within the church system. A brief history of Christ’s ministry and the apostle’s ministry will be mentioned here to set the stage for today’s dispensation for obtaining salvation.

1. What was Jesus’ primary message during his ministry?

Christ’s primary message was to fulfill the covenant promises given by God to the patriarchs so many years in the past. This is part of the Abrahamic Covenant of Genesis 12: 1-3 and other chapters. The Lord promised, in part, through the seed of Abraham that a blessing would occur for all families of the earth. This blessing would be a Savior to redeem the curse upon mankind and give individuals an opportunity for salvation.

Christ constantly spoke about the “kingdom of God or the kingdom of heaven.” This IS, in fact, the GOSPEL, or the GOOD NEWS, OF THE KINGDOM. As stated often within our studies, one should underline or highlight every place in the first five books of the New Testament where the above-mentioned words are written. In order to fulfill the covenant promises, Jesus was, also, ministering for Israel to believe just who he was…and that was their Messiah; their Promised One; Wonderful Counselor; their King, Prince of Peace…. The Apostle Paul clarifies this in Romans 15: 8, when he wrote: “…Christ became a servant (Or a Minister) to the circumcised (Jewish People or Israel) to show God’s truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob) and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy…” Historically, once Israel left Egypt, God very quickly told the budding nation the following:

Exodus 19: 5-6 states, “…if you (Israel) obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my own possession among all peoples…you shall be a kingdom of priests and a holy (Set apart) nation.” (Or the Chosen people)

Isaiah 49: 6 states this speaking of Israel, “I will give you (Israel) as a light to the nations, that my SALVATION may reach to the end of the earth.”

This was what Jesus meant when he told the disciples, “… to go therefore and make disciples of all nations…” But first, the disciples needed to have Israel believe who Christ was along with the kingdom restored. At that time, Israel would become that kingdom of priests to go to the Gentiles.

History tells us Israel failed constantly. They lost their kingdom. The nation of Israel became under Gentile dominion for many, many, many years.
Israel rejected Christ’s message to have their King and Kingdom. They didn’t BELIEVE!!!! Their unbelief led to Christ’s death on the cross. Three days and three nights later Christ was raised back to life!

2. What was the message after the cross and resurrection?

Acts 1: 3 records the resurrected Christ as being on earth for forty days and speaking of the “Kingdom of God!” Jesus’ message was still the same. In Acts 1: 6, the disciples asked Christ, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” The importance of this kingdom to the Jewish people cannot be understated. The Jews lost their kingdom and the magnificent Solomon’s temple way back in 586 B.C. under King Nebuchadnezzar of the Babylonian Empire. The hope of their kingdom restoration was of vital importance. The kingdom is just as vital to modern Jews today! They are waiting for their Messiah today, as well. The Jews have increased their plans to have their third temple now that they are back in the land of Israel since 1948. One may say, Israel has some of their land back. The Jews still need their temple and King.

3. What was the disciples’ message during their ministries?

The best example is found in Peter’s sermons of Acts 2 and 3. Peter was preaching to Jews in Jerusalem about who Christ was, his death on the cross and the resurrection and the covenant promises to Abraham. Remember, the covenant promises were for the Jews. In verse 36, Peter reminded these Jews by saying, “Let “all the house of Israel” therefore know assuredly that God has made him that God has made him both Lord  and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” The Jews, now troubled over the events, wanted to know what they should do now. Peter told them to; “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus for the forgiveness of sins and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (These Jews were to repent of their unbelief as to who Jesus was which led to the crucifixion. They were to then be baptized as per Jewish law as a type of cleansing or purification. If they believed, then the nation would be in a position to take salvation to the Gentiles and have their King and kingdom.) The disciples started the Jewish church of believers, yet they were still law-keeping. Important for study!

By studying the Jerusalem Council of around 50 A.D. it is easy to see there is a difference. The disciples were to continue with their kingdom message to the Jews and Paul was to stay with the Gentiles. Christ while on earth, in Matthew 10: 5-6 told the twelve to, “Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the LOST SHEEP OF ISRAEL.” Verse 7 added; the disciples were to preach that the KINGDOM OF HEAVEN WAS AT HAND. (Jesus, scripturally, never said anything to change that course of action and it is easy to see just how Jewish his disciples remained. After all they were to work to have Israel believe. Jesus, at this time, was still here on earth during his ministry years, and the kingdom promises could have been reality if the Jews would have believed! Scripturally speaking, the disciples held true to staying with the Jews with a couple exceptions with Peter. More later on this difference. See Acts 15 and Galatians 2 to study this conference or council.

4. What caused Israel’s rejection before and after the cross?

In the simplest term…ISRAEL REJECTED CHRIST THROUGH THEIR UNBELIEF! Paul wrote in Romans 8-11 about Israel’s failure through their unbelief as to who Christ was. He wrote in Romans 11: 25 of Israel’s hardening of their hearts. Paul, also, added “until the full number of the Gentiles come in.” Israel will be given another opportunity to believe the gospel of the kingdom during the tribulation, also known as, the Time of Jacob’s Trouble. (Jeremiah 30: 7) The Jewish remnant at that time will believe! Zechariah 12: 10 tells us, Israel will mourn for Christ the one they pierced. ISRAEL WILL BELIEVE!

5. What was the turning point with God’s plan with Israel?

Acts 7 gives us the story of the Holy Spirit, inspired, Jewish believer named Stephen. He was murdered by the Jews for his belief of Christ being their Promised One. Immediately in Acts 8 Saul (Later Paul) was introduced. Big changes would be coming. Israel’s future would be spiraling downward from this time until the Romans destroy Jerusalem and the temple in 70 A.D. Israel would cease to exist as a nation. Remember since 586 B.C. Judah and Israel were under Gentile control.

6. So, what now? What was to be the next part of God’s plan? Who was to be the one during this next dispensation?

Paul would be called out of his Jewish zealous ways by the RISEN CHRIST. Romans 1: 1 states, Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an APOSTLE, SET APART for the GOSPEL OF GOD which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy scriptures.” Paul added…”according to the Spirit of holiness by his RESURRECTION FROM THE DEAD, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received GRACE and apostleship to bring about the obedience of FAITH for the sake of his name AMONG ALL NATIONS…”
Israel lost the chance to be the nation of priests to carry God’s word to the Gentiles. Paul would begin taking the word to the Gentiles now, but without Israel.

Also, in Galatians 1: 1, Paul wrote he became an apostle not through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead. He added in verses 11-12: “…the gospel which was preached by me is not man’s gospel. For I (Paul) did not receive it from man nor was I taught it, but it came through a revelation of Jesus Christ.” (The RISEN CHRIST)

7. What is this gospel of grace and how does one obtain grace?

There are two primary places in Paul’s words that detail the process of obtaining salvation. Romans 10: 9-10 the apostle wrote: “…because, if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For man believes with his heart and so is justified, and he confesses with his lips and so is saved. One needs to humble themselves in prayer and truly believe from within their innermost being.

A second place in scripture is 1 Corinthians 15: 1-4. Paul wrote: “Now I would remind you, brethren in what terms I preached to you the gospel, which you have received, in which you stand, by which you are SAVED, if you hold it fast-unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that CHRIST DIED FOR YOUR SINS IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE SCRIPTURES, THAT HE WAS BURIED, THAT HE WAS RAISED ON THE THIRD DAY IN ACORDANCE WITH THE SCRIPTURES…”

This is the GOSPEL OF GRACE given freely for those who believe Jesus was raised from the grave unto life. This is promised through those who receive and believe Paul’s words with FAITH! (Paul added in 2 Corinthians 4:3 words about the lost. He said the gospel is hid to those who are lost or perishing.)

8. What is faith?

Hebrews 11:1 tells us: “faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Hebrews 11: 6 adds: “Without faith it is impossible to please God.”

9. What is the difference between the Gospel of the Kingdom and the Gospel of Grace?

The gospel of the kingdom preached by Christ while on earth and the disciples was simply believing who Christ was and the kingdom would become reality for the nation of Israel. Israel could have had their kingdom if they would have accepted Christ as their Promised One. After the cross, Israel could have had their King and kingdom if the nation would have turned around from their unbelief as to who Christ was. Neither option occurred in Israel’s history. (Notice the difference between these two gospels. The kingdom gospel had to have all of Israel believe. With grace, an individual can be saved.)

The kingdom will be reality on earth at Christ’s second coming.

The Gospel of Grace is to believe, after the fact, of Christ’s death, burial and resurrection with complete faith and the Holy Spirit will dwell within and mercy and grace is granted. Any person who has truly believed and has received grace through faith should see a change within as the process towards being Christ-like permeates their being.

Romans 4: 3 states Abraham believed what God said and that faith was reckoned to him as righteousness.

However, works should become part of the grace experience, but works will not grant salvation!

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