The Ark Encounter

Laurie and I were very much impressed when we finally made the trip to witness for ourselves the ARK! The Ark was built in 2014 through 2016 with the opening for the public in July of 2016. I had chartered a bus to make the trip, but was forced to cancel it due to Laurie’s back surgery in July of last year.


This Ark is huge! The big ship was created using the dimensions listed in the Bible in Genesis 6 of the Bible. This makes the Ark 510 feet in length;   eighty-five feet  wide and fifty-one feet high totaling three stories. The outside  is awe striking to see because of the size, however the interior is just as awe striking due to the all the allowable space available to place so much! This structure is currently the largest wooden structure in the world today. Like I said the Ark is huge! (See http://www.ArkEncounter.com to see more details and interests.)                                                                              

Many exhibits are found within the interior of the Ark. One can, also, watch movies at various locations. Much of the interior has cages; food supplies; water cisterns to show possible methods of building the original Ark and making it all work. The demonstrations show possible cage construction methods to aid in eliminating any wildlife waste materials and storage of food and water, etc.

Looking from bottom through three stories to the top of the Ark.

Life-like mannequins are located within to show how the Noah and the eight people may have dressed and lived. One such demonstrations depicts Noah

Man-made Chimpanzee. Each hair is stitched onto a form. this is not a taxidermy mount.

in a robotic form, moving his head and arms and speaking and answering questions of the public. the eyes move and gaze into the viewers.                                                                   

The Ark concept began in 2004; construction began in 2014 and completed by July 2016. Not bad at all. the Bible says Noah worked for 120 years to build the Ark. Such Faith!

Lighting with Olive oil.

The Ark is located near Williamstown, Kentucky!


Riverboat on the Ohio!


Doug and Kathy Flanders; Jerry and Phyllis Shull and Laurie at the eating table.

Laurie and I enjoyed a pleasant boating experience while on a mini-vacation. We rode a riverboat on the Ohio River. Music was supplied and a buffet meal filled out bellies!   

We boarded this boat in the evening and headed northeast on the great Ohio River. I am not sure how far we traveled, but we went quite a ways enjoying an easy ride, seeing the scenery and geese and ducks. At some point the boat turned around and headed southwest just as the evening began to turn towards darkness.


The trip back went past the site of boarding the boat closer to Cincinnati, Ohio. We boarded on the Kentucky side of the river near Covington, Kentucky. Actually, we learned the river is actually part of the state of Kentucky until one reached the shore on the Ohio side. Interesting! Now we could see the many bridges as they crossed the river. Some had very old architecture dating into the eighteen hundreds.                                                                            

Eventually we turned again to move northeasterly again. Darkness was now very noticeable as the city lights began illuminating the buildings and strongly contrasting the darkened sky.


Old era building

A statement of interest. The Allegheny River of western Pennsylvania was actually know as the Ohio River.  The name would change to the Allegheny River at Pittsburgh where it intersected with the Monongahela River. At this intersection the Ohio River now begins.

Note my hand to demonstrate size of this scapula.

I recently obtained a shoulder bone of a Moose to paint on. Technically, this shoulder bone is called a scapula.  This particular scapula is

After “slapping on” some paint.

fifteen inches long and about ten wide at the widest point. Obviously, I painted a Moose on this bone.

A rough sketch was drawn onto the bone to best utilize the limited space. Then the “slap on” stage began. At this stage I quickly slap the paint on to get the feel of the art and the direction it may go.

The following step is the detail work followed by a coat of varnish. I hope you enjoy!


Completed work!

The following is a review study for an upcoming Bible study I shall be doing. The original 13 pages of the detailed study can be found on my September 28 and 30, 2016 entries.


By Larry A. Smail

Much time has elapsed since we have studied the first four books of the New Testament through the early chapters of Acts. I believe a review may be needed to remind us of the three dispensations over that forty year time frame of transitions. Remember, dispensations are times of transitional changes. As stated, this time frame covered approximately forty years from Christ’s ministry; the cross; resurrection; the disciples’ Jewish kingdom messages; Paul’s Gentile, believing with faith, message; ending with Israel’s removal from the scene in 70 A.D.

I believe it is sad that these facts of scripture are seldom to, mostly, never heard. The usual attempt has been to try to pick and choose from scripture to fit the pre-conceived years of thought and teachings. Also, most people attempt to place all these dispensations in a blender, but they need to remain separate and understood just where they stand in scripture. This is especially true due to the fact these dispensations are scriptural and provable upon a willingness to see for oneself and throw aside any pre-conceived or denominational teachings.  Once these times are understood the Bible will open up like you never thought possible!


Jesus’ ministry included many, many signs, wonders and miracles. Why did Jesus do these things? He was proving to the Jews just who he was! Jesus was their Promised One; their King and ready to usher in the promised kingdom on earth. This is known as the Kingdom of the Gospel. The only “catch” was the Nation of Israel had to BELIEVE HE WAS THEIR PROMISED ONE! All those parables Christ used to teach were directed to the Jews of Israel to help them grasp their coming kingdom, if they would only believe. This is the NUMBER ONE TIME OF DISPENSATION AND THAT WAS TO BELIEVE WHO JESUS WAS! That takes a faith the Jews didn’t have despite seeing so many miracles!

In Romans 15:8 we can learn why Christ came to Israel. Paul wrote: …Christ became a minister (Servant) to the circumcised (Jews) to show God’s truthfulness, (Faithfulness) in order to confirm (Fulfill) the promises given to the fathers; (Covenant promises of Genesis.) in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. (Grace)   Read again using words in parenthesis.

Remember, in Exodus 19: 5-6 when God told the young nation of Israel if they were obedient to the covenant they would be his own possession (Chosen People) among all people (Gentiles)…and they were to become a kingdom of priests and a holy nation!       WOW!

Despite the miracles, the nation of Israel, the Jewish people, rejected Jesus leading to the cross and his death. They could not accept this man, but anything, other than a man of Nazareth. Israel would not be that kingdom and not be that holy nation of priests and they would not be taking God’s mercy to the Gentiles from the Exodus 19 words of God. However, Israel would be given another chance.

Jesus was hastily entombed to beat the HOLY “ANNUAL” SABBATH of the Feast of Unleavened Bread including Passover. The timing of this was exact since prophetically Christ would be required to be in the grave for three days and three nights. (See Matthew 12: 38-41.) This would prove beyond doubt that he had died! Also, Christ to be the sacrificial Lamb had to be killed during Passover season to become the savior.

On the Sunday morning following the WEEKLY SABBATH the tomb was found to be empty. Christ was resurrected from the dead! Annual Sabbaths can occur any day of the week. (Note the differences in the two Sabbath times. Important!) Weekly Sabbaths begin on Friday evening at sunset and go to Saturday evening.

After his resurrection, Jesus spent forty days on the earth in his glorified body to add more proof as to who he was! During those forty days what did Christ talk about? He talked about the very same thing as he did during his ministry…the KINGDOM! (See Acts 1:3.) Israel was to receive a second chance to believe Jesus was their Promised One! Their KING! Their Messiah! Christ was “setting the stage” again for what was very soon to begin…that second chance for Israel!

The disciples asked Jesus if he was going to restore the kingdom to Israel, now. Christ told them it was not for them to know. However, their success or failure with the Nation of Israel would determine when that kingdom would come to reality. Israel’s first opportunity to be that Exodus 19 nation was over!




After Pentecost, Jesus’ disciples began the second dispensational time for Israel. Peter, James, John… preached, as did Jesus, the message of the Gospel of the Kingdom to who?…The JEWS. There is no Gentile language here at all!

However, this dispensational time was a little different than what Christ preached. In Acts 2 and 3 Peter preached to whom?  He preached to the NATION OF ISRAEL, the JEWS, after the cross. Notice the Jews had to repent first.  Ask yourself, repent of what? The answer is twofold. The Jews needed to repent of their UNBELIEF AS TO WHO JESUS WAS WHICH LED TO CHRIST’S DEATH ON THE CROSS! And, they, now, needed to BELIEVE CHRIST WAS INDEED THEIR KING AND CLEANSE THEMSELVES AS PER JEWISH LAW VIA BAPTISM!

Notice Peter’s language here; if ALL THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL repented and was baptized Christ would return and bring along the promised kingdom. (This is the Gospel of the Kingdom.) There is still no Gentile language being used here!  Many did as Peter preached, but it must be understood these Jews became part of the ASSEMBLY OF JEWISH BELIEVERS. (The Greek word is ecclesia which means “a called out assembly.”) Most everyone thinks these are Christians, but they were still law-keeping, works required, religious Jews with the only difference being they believed Christ was their Promised One. These Jewish believers attended synagogues and the temple; ate only foods allowed by Jewish law; followed all Jewish feast days; (Annual Sabbath times) Friday at sunset to Saturday at sunset weekly Sabbaths, law-keeping, circumcision, etc. Notice Peter, also, used other words such as: men of Israel and men of Judea to describe the people who he was addressing. Jesus never once told them to do anything other than go to the Jews. (See Matthew 10: 5-7.)

For more proof on this fact study Acts 10 where Peter went to a Gentile against his will because, as he stated; you know it is unlawful for a Jew to associate with a Gentile. Read Acts 11: 19 for more proof.

Also, study Acts 15 and Galatians 2 on the Jerusalem Council. This meeting occurred about twenty years after the cross. The decision was the twelve would 3.

continue with the Jews and Paul would continue with the Gentiles. More understanding is available upon reading the disciples’ epistles and to the people they were directed. They were written to the Jews in dispersion. You seldom hear of these realities on a Sunday. Read and study for yourself.

I realize this is not what the vast majority understand today, but these Jesus-believing Jews were not Christians as we have come to understand Christianity today. Labeling these Jewish believers as Christians causes much confusion in studying the Bible. However, if any Jew repented of their disbelief and was baptized they would still be saved under that dispensation. They were doing what they were supposed to do at that time and that was to have Israel believe Jesus was their Promised One! These Jews did not hear of believing only with faith.

In fact, the Holy Spirit first directed the writer in Acts 11:26 to address these faith-based Gentiles as Christians for the first time under Paul’s preaching. This fact alone must demonstrate the importance of the differences between the law following, but believing, Jews and the faith-based only believing Gentiles. However, under grace there were some Jews who would become Christians through faith and abandoning their religion of law, or Judaism. (This was the entire reasoning behind the Book of Hebrews and that was to convince believing Jews to abandon Law to complete faith only. More details under the third dispensation.)

A major event occurred approximately nine years after the cross. In Acts 7, a Holy Spirit inspired man named Stephen was murdered by the non-believing Jews. Although, they didn’t know it, this murder would lead to the steady decline of Israel into oblivion. This was Israel’s final rejection. Jesus’ disciples continued to preach to the Jews hoping the Nation of Israel would repent and believe who Christ was just as they were supposed to do. The above statement concerning Exodus 19: 5-6 would continue to be on hold. Israel would not become that special nation of priests to take the word to Gentiles. That would have to wait! This will occur during the time of the Second Advent of Christ. The Jews will, again, preach the Gospel of the Kingdom during the final seven years. (This is the time Christ prophesied about during the Oliver Discourse. I believe the144, 000 Jews of Revelation will be the Jews carrying this gospel kingdom to the world.)


A zealot Jew, named Saul, immediately rose to the forefront at Stephen’s murder. He instituted a great persecution against those Jews who had become believers in Christ as their Messiah. They were known as the WAY!  He hated anything to do with the man, Jesus.  He was a Pharisee, so he donned a lot of power.  He created widespread fear on these Jewish believers. He had them tortured, imprisoned and killed if they refused to renege on their beliefs. Many believers fled to Gentile countries to get away from Jerusalem and Saul! (See Acts 8:1.) Saul, however, headed for Damascus to remove more of these believing Jews.

Saul was immediately converted on the road to Damascus when the Risen Christ made himself known to him. (Acts 9) He was fearful since the very same person he was trying to stamp out of the area was, now confronting Saul, OUCH!

Saul would, shortly, learn what his role was to be in this plan of God. He would be taking the message to Gentiles since the Jews had lost their opportunity to follow through with the Exodus 19: 5-6 words from God. Like I said, Israel was in decline! The Lord was using another Jew to do what the nation of Israel failed to do and that was to take the gospel of grace, or faith only, to the Gentiles.

Prior to Saul having his mission revealed went to the Jews in the Damascus Synagogue and preached what? He told them the exact message of the other disciples at this time and that was that Jesus was their Promised One. Saul would learn more of his message from the Risen Christ. Saul, soon to be Paul, would be the APOSTLE TO THE GENTILES. Paul would be learning the mysteries of God and going to the Gentiles and all mankind with his words.


In Galatians 1:17, we learned that Paul went to Arabia sometime, soon, after his conversion for three years. Lots of time would be needed to separate Paul from his strong Jewish indoctrination, Law-keeping ways, and being a Pharisee. Christ began teaching him the mysteries of God pertaining to grace! This time in Arabia strongly implies as this time period when the Risen Christ revealed his mission to the Gentiles. As stated, Paul would learn of grace through faith through the Risen Christ. (Galatians 1:11-12.) The Risen Christ taught him of


the faith through believing, grace doctrine. All through Paul’s writings this doctrine is easily viewed. Watch for the key words and phrases such as: gospel of God; grace; gospel of his Son; gift of his grace; raised from death; faith apart from works; grace of God; abundance of grace; believes… And these are just from the Book of Romans! Look for such key words in all of Paul’s writings!!!

This is, in fact, the THIRD, AND PRESENT, TIME OF DISPENSATION FOR SALVATION THROUGH FAITH ONLY! NO WORKS . Paul, actually, calls this time of dispensation by the name in some translations. (Ephesians 3) In Ephesians 2: 8-9, Paul wrote of GRACE strongly and amplified the words of NO WORKS! PAUL BECOMES THE MINISTER FOR THE GOSPELOF GRACE!


1 Corinthians 15:1-4 states very well of THE GOSPEL FOR SALVATION. PAUL WROTE TO BE SAVED ONE IS REQUIRED TO BELIEVE IN FAITH THAT CHRIST DIED, WAS BURIED AND ON THE THIRD DAY ROSE AGAIN.  Notice how under the first and second dispensation the nation of Israel was required to believe. Under grace an individual can be saved. An individual may be saved be he/she either a Jew or Gentile, now.

If you feel you need to work for salvation then the gift of grace isn’t a gift at all. Paul stated in Romans that if you do anything other than believe with faith you are doing actions crucifying Christ again.

Whenever, God deems the time of the Gentiles to be over, the kingdom gospel will return, as stated above, for that kingdom was foretold many times to Israel. This will become reality upon Christ’s return! Those covenant promises are very much still in place with Israel.




Snowy Owl Painting

Earlier this summer, I completed an acrylic painting of a Snowy Owl. I painted the piece with hopes of being selected for a print. The painting failed.

Head detail

The Snowy Owl is a beautiful owl. I have never seen one in the wild since they very seldom drift this far south in my state of Pennsylvania. A few years ago one was viewed for a short time near my home. The bird was often spotted on a barn. So, for me I studied available photo images of the owl, before setting down and drawing a host of layout ideas. In fact the original concept occurred during the spring gobbler hunting season. I sat in the woods doing thumbnail sketches. I would choose from them several ideas that I liked. Following the final selection, I began doing bigger sketches until I came up with the image shown below.

After I started this painting I went through a time of internal debate of the positioning. The idea is this owl has the wings dropped to hide the recent catch of a mouse. The tail is spread in a defensive mode. I wondered if this position would be understood for anyone viewing the painting. I have seen Great-Horned Owls do similar shows of defiance. I decided to leave the idea as is.                                                                                                                                  


Todd Nature Reserve

Recently, I had to be at Natrona Heights, Pennsylvania by 7:00 A.M. I decided to make a morning of this travel and hike afterwards  at the Todd Nature Reserve, formerly Todd Sanctuary. This wooded area complete with a rocky stream and a pond is located near Sarver, Pennsylvania. The trail features diversified woodlots. hemlock areas along the stream, big timber and forested areas obviously pasture lands in the far-off past. Some sizable rocks are scattered in some areas of the reserve.                                                                                      

The pond was filled with tadpoles. Two Green Herons were making some feasts on the tadpoles. A hen Wood Duck remained perched on some limbs emerging from the middle of the pond. She never left despite my presence. Bullfrogs serenaded me, or , at least, I think they were singing to me.

I saw a doe, turkeys in a field and a lot of chipmunks and squirrels.

The reserve has approximately five miles of trails traveling through the diversity.

  The Todd Sanctuary was from a man named W.E. Clyde Todd who passed away in 1969. Additional acreage has been obtained through the Audubon Society. There are 334 acres of land within the reserve. The web site is: http://www.aswp.org if interested in reading more on this area.

I just completed this bear painting on a bear shoulder bone. Again, this is something different than the normal painting I might do.