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2015 Turkey Hunting Videos

On Good Friday, my wife, one of my good buddies, and I went Turkey hunting. Hunting is something that I did not do before my accident, but thanks to my good buddy Kurt, it has become one of the few sports that I can participate in. I still have to have someone drag me out of bed early, drive me to the farm, and help me get positioned inside the hunting blind, but with the adaptive equipment Kurt and some of his friends purchased I can aim and fire the gun.

If you have a few minutes, watch the video below. If you know someone who is disabled, but would like to go hunting, I know of some people in Parsons who have equipment available to loan out. They don’t charge a dime. I also know of a wonderful ministry called, Peterson Outdoor Ministries, just across the border of Kansas near Joplin.

2015 Turkey Hunt & Speaking Engagements

On Good Friday, my wife, one of my good buddies, and I went Turkey hunting. Hunting is something that I did not do before my accident, but thanks to my good buddy Kurt, it has become one of the few sports that I can participate in. I still have to have someone drag me out of bed early, drive me to the farm, and help me get positioned inside the hunting blind, but with the adaptive equipment Kurt and some of his friends purchased I can aim and fire the gun.

If you have a few minutes, visit my website and click the link to the right that says, “2015 Turkey Hunting Videos” to watch the video. If you know someone who is disabled, but would like to go hunting, I know of some people in Parsons who have equipment available to loan out. They don’t charge a dime. I also know of a wonderful ministry called, Peterson Outdoor Ministries, just across the border of Kansas near Joplin.

On another note, next weekend (April 24-26) my wife and I will be traveling to Cimmaron, Kansas. I will be speaking at the high school on Friday, the library on Saturday, and the First United Methodist Church on Sunday morning. If you happen to know of anyone in the area, please let them know.

I have a couple other speaking engagements lined up for the summer, but I do have room for a couple more if anyone is interested.

Sunday, June 14: Wesley United Methodist Church in Parsons, Kansas (both Sunday morning services)
Sunday, July 12: Anastasia Baptist Church in St. Augustine, Florida (Saturday night service, plus all three Sunday morning services)

As we look forward to these opportunities to share what God has done for us, my wife and I would appreciate your prayers and support. Thank you and God bless!

ko_turkey_2015

 

You Can’t Chase Two Rabbits

The other morning I was watching the tonight show, and they had a guest appearance by Taylor Swift. I didn’t catch enough of the conversation to understand how this applied to her life, but she said something very significant to me. She said, “If you chase two rabbits, you won’t catch either one of them.”

As I begin to think about the idea of chasing two rabbits, I immediately tested the theory. (In my mind.) My mom raised a lot of rabbits when I was a kid, but I didn’t remember chasing many rabbits. I do remember trying to chase two girls at once, and well, that didn’t work. Growing up on the farm, I remember chasing a lot of cattle and hogs, and I do remember the multiple occasions where one would run to my left and the other to my right; leaving me to choose between the two. Unless you could keep them all going in the same direction, it was impossible to chase more than one at a time.

My mind then wandered to the words of Jesus in the book of Matthew chapter 6. Wasn’t Jesus basically saying we cannot chase two rabbits when He said we cannot serve two masters? He taught us we have to choose between chasing after God and chasing after the things of this world. I needed this reminder because I so often stress over financial matters, thinking I need to do more and more in attempt to feel secure. It is interesting that in the same chapter, Jesus tells us not to worry about the things we need to survive, like clothes and food, but just to simply put Him first. In return, Jesus said that all of these things we need would be provided for us.

Thank you Taylor Swift for speaking to me this week. God used you to remind me to chase the right rabbit.

 

The Power of a Storm

The other night my wife and I were talking with my former basketball coach. He was at Lowe’s picking up a piece of guttering because a storm was approaching. We parted quickly and went our separate ways. On the drive home a tornado warning was issued. We were well south of the tornado, so we parked until the storm passed. After arriving home I sent a Facebook message to his wife. I wanted to be sure they were safe and to know if he repaired the guttering in time. At the end of our conversation, she made a statement that spoke to me. She said, “Sometimes all we can do is wait out the storms.”

My mind immediately began to think of the many times in the Bible when Jesus talked about storms. You probably remember the story of the disciples being stuck in a boat with Jesus during a bad storm. The wind was causing the waves to come up over the edge of the boat. They were doing everything they knew to do in order to keep their boat from sinking. Eventually they realized they were powerless against the storm. In desperation, they decided to wake up Jesus. Jesus then spoke to the storm. Immediately the wind stopped and the sea was calmed. The disciples’ response was much like mine would have been, “What manner of man is this who has power over the wind and the sea?”

During his famous sermon on the Mount, Jesus told of the wise man who built his house on the rock and the foolish man who built his house on the sand. When the storms came, when the rain and hail beat upon their house, there were two different outcomes. The wise man’s house did not fall. It stood up to the test of the storm. It wasn’t because his house was FEMA approved. It wasn’t because he had read about the three little pigs and decided to use bricks instead of conventional stick framing. His house stood up to the storm because he had built it on the right kind of foundation.

If you look beyond the words of the story Jesus told about the wise man and the foolish man, you will understand that Jesus wasn’t really even talking about houses. He was a master at using earthly examples to teach spiritual principles. The house was only used to represent the life that we build for ourselves. The storms represented the storms of life. The rock represented the everlasting word of God. The sand represented the ever-changing doctrines of this world. Jesus wanted to make it abundantly clear that if we do not build our lives on the right kind of foundation (the Word of God), then it will not stand up to the storms of life.

Growing up in Kansas, I have always been well aware of the power of a storm. I’ve seen huge trees uprooted in my yard, a large branch thrown through my van window, a roof peeled off our barn. I’ve witnessed pieces of buildings and farm equipment scattered across the ground like tinker toys thrown on the floor by a three-year-old. I’ve helped clean up the mess after barns that had stood for 100 years were blown from their foundations and completely destroyed. It’s no secret that a storm can be damaging, destructive, and sometimes devastating. Storms can leave everything in its path in a complete mess.

Sooner or later a storm will come along to test each of us. Trials and problems and circumstances will beat down upon us like the wind, rain, and hail beats down on a house. Sometimes the trials and problems and circumstances will be damaging, even devastating, leaving our lives in a complete mess. Storms have the power to take everything we have built for ourselves in an instant, leaving us with what seems like nothing, sitting powerless in a sinking boat, knowing there is nothing we can do about it.

If you happen to find yourself in a situation like that today, or tomorrow, or whenever, I want you to remember this. In Jesus we have a Master who has power over the storms. In an instant He can speak to your storm and give you peace. He may make you wait out the storm. He may let you try everything you know to do, as He did the disciples. He may even wait until you feel completely powerless, but rest assured, at just the right moment, He will speak to your storm.

How Will You Respond

How will you respond to the unwanted, seemingly unchangeable, circumstances of life? This is the question I asked at the First United Methodist Church in Independence, Kansas a couple of months ago, while speaking at both of their Sunday morning services. If you happen to belong to a church family, please watch this video, then pray about whether or not you feel God is leading you to make arrangements for me to share my life story at your church. God has given me a gift and a message. Please help me share it with the world. Email me for more info: kevinaolson@yahoo.com

 

Thankful for the Storm

Since church was cancelled the wife and I took advantage of this snowy, Sunday, Kansas morning and laid around. It’s extremely rare we have a morning we don’t have to be somewhere.

She started watching “Fault In The Stars,” but at the beginning of the movie I could not keep my eyes open. All I wanted was to sleep. “Why wasn’t she watching this in the living room,” is all I could think. (In 5 months of marriage I’ve learned it’s best to keep some thoughts to myself.)

By the end of the movie, I could not keep my eyes dry. A young man and woman suffer through an awful battle with cancer and … (well, I’d say more but I can’t give away the ending.)

Anyway, it made me think about how short life can be and how every once in a while we need to “stop” everything. Stop and enjoy the simplest blessings of life, like having someone to watch a movie with and share life with.

You know, I wonder if this isn’t why God originally planned “a day of rest?” So we would “stop” everything. Stop everything and do nothing but be thankful for His blessings. According to God we should do this weekly. We should schedule time like this into our lives.

You know, it’s too bad it took a snow storm to cause me to stop and appreciate one of the best things in my life. But when I think about it, sometimes that’s exactly why God allows “storms” into our lives.

Life Will Trash Your Trophies

4212_webAt one point in my life these trophies were my most prized possessions. I proudly displayed them on top of my dresser. When they became dusty, I meticulously cleaned them so they would once again become shiny. When the top of my dresser was no longer large enough to hold all of my trophies, I made a large bookcase during shop class at school to better display them.

My first trophies came from T-ball and Little League. Later, at the age of 11, I started entering free-throw contests sponsored by the Knights of Columbus. I earned my way to the state championship two years, winning the state championship once. That same year I earned a most valuable player trophy in a baseball tournament. I remember we lost our first game of the tournament, then worked our way back through the losers bracket to beat Iola twice in the championship round.

As I look back to my childhood I have such great memories of earning these awards. It was one of the greatest times in my life. How much fun it would be to go back to those carefree days, back when our purpose in life seemed to be nothing more than to play ball and have fun.

These trophies represented who I was at one point in life. They held a place of honor in my room and in my life. My sense of purpose and self-worth seemed to come from them. I realize now that life is not what I thought it was at age 11.

This picture was taken before I married and moved last year. Here I am 30 years later wondering what to do with something that once held such great value to me. Do I leave them in the same plastic tub they have been piled in since high school or trash them? Somehow, I doubt my wife wants them proudly displayed on our dresser.

As I contemplated what to do with my trophies I thought about a quote from James Dobson’s book, “When God Does Not Make Sense.” I read it not long after I became paralyzed and I recommend it to anyone who has endured or is enduring a tragedy or hardship. It is almost as good as my book, “Learning to Live With It”. (Ha, Ha). All joking aside, he wrote something I will never forget, “If you live long enough, life will trash your trophies.”

In Matthew 6:19-21(NIV), we find that Jesus had a similar outlook on our earthly treasures. Jesus said, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Life certainly has a way of teaching us that the things we earn and achieve here only seem to matter for a short time. Start laying up for yourselves treasures in heaven, because life is temporary and if you live long enough, life will trash your trophies.

For those of you that are wondering, yes, the trophies went to the trash. But the memories and the people I shared those good times with are the real treasure.

See Yourself As Useful

During my first year tutoring fifth-graders, I met Miranda. Miranda had a cute little smile and the biggest heart in town. She also had a sense of humor and a unique way of looking at things.

For her science project, she and I decided to make a solar cooker out of a cylinder-shaped Quaker-oatmeal container. She cut one side of the container off, leaving the two ends and about two-thirds of the body intact. On the inside, she lined it with aluminum foil; and on the center of each end, she poked a hole just big enough to stick a wire through.

For several days, we loaded the cooker with hot dogs and marshmallows. We kept track of the temperature outside, the amount of sunshine, and the time it took to “brown” our hot dogs or melt our marshmallows. We tried cooking with no lid on our oven versus cooking with a lid. Toward the end, we even added a thermometer to record the temperature inside the oven.

As Miranda became comfortable around me, she said and did whatever came to mind without fear that I would be offended. I liked that because I didn’t want kids to feel uncomfortable around me. I wanted them to see that although I had physical limitations, I was just a normal guy.

One day while we were working on her project, the wind blew Miranda’s papers everywhere. I felt helpless as I watched her hurry around the yard picking up papers. She ran back towards me, picked up my hand, and put all her papers underneath it. With a sheepish grin, she said, “You make a good paperweight.”

Finding things I was useful for became a fun game we played the rest of the year. She discovered my lap made a good shopping cart to carry all her stuff. My feet made a doorstop when nothing else would hold the door open.

This was my first experience working with a child on a science project, but we were both rewarded. Miranda earned a gold medal in the science fair, and I learned some important life lessons. If I would look beyond my physical limitations, I could find many new ways to be useful. Even though I could never be used for the things I once took so much pride in doing, and often saw myself as worthless, the truth was, I was not worthless. I needed to stop focusing on all the things I could no longer do and look for things I could do.

In Ephesians 2:10 Pauls says, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Remind yourself of this today. Regardless of what seems to be causing you to feel limited and worthless, God can use you to accomplish great things.

Seeing God as a loving father – willing to make sacrifices for His children

All the usual pieces were in place. I was surrounded by family and friends. Cards and letters came by mail. Everyone ate more cake and ice cream than they needed after singing happy birthday.

From the outside it appeared to be a birthday party, but as you can likely tell from the picture, my 20th birthday was nothing like it should have been. Tubes were supplying me with oxygen and food, while bars and screws held my shattered neck together. My friends opened cards for me, as my arms and legs were paralyzed.

It may have been a birthday party on the outside, but on the inside I was having one heck of a pity party. I wanted out of the mess I had made of my life. After the dust settled and most of the people had left, my father leaned over my bed and mumbled, “Happy Birthday.” With tears in his eyes he said, “I wish there was some way that I could take your place.”

Though I could not speak because of the tubes, tears began to fill my eyes. My pity party came to an abrupt end. I knew my father would do anything to fix my broken spinal cord, even if it meant giving up his own life. In that brief moment, through that one simple sentence, I caught a glimpse of my heavenly father’s love and saw the entire message of the Bible. God looked down upon us in our helpless, hopeless situation and willingly gave his life as a sacrificial offering for our sin. He became a man and took our place on the cross.

It should not come as a surprise to us that God’s love can often be seen through the love of an earthly father. Over and over throughout the Bible, God’s love for us is conveyed as the type of love a father has for his children.

In the world that we live in today it seems as if there is a lot of confusion surrounding the definition of a loving father. People’s values and standards vary greatly even within individual families. One thing we could surely all agree on though is this; a loving father is willing to make sacrifices for his children. If need be, a loving father will even give up his own life for his children.

God loves you so much that he was willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for you. Remind yourself of this simple truth the next time you find yourself in the midst of a pity party. It may just do for you what it did for me.
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Romans 5:8 says, “God commends his love toward us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” And John 3:16 says, ”For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

Did God Make That?

In 1974, just three years after I was born, my parents bought a 400 acre farm in southeast Kansas. I am told that for the next few years I asked one question over and over as I discovered new things around the farm. Did God make that or did Percy? The question stemmed from the fact that we bought the farm from a man named Percy Rowan, who built the house and some of the barns and fences. Running through the pasture was a large creek that I liked to walk around in when it was dry. Behind the house there was a large shale hill covered with fossils and arrowheads. When I inquired about these types of things my parents told me, “God made those.”

At three years old I’m not sure what I did with that information, but apparently it was important to me to know how the different things on our farm were made and who made them. As I look around the world we live in today, I wonder, does it matter how the universe was formed, and by whom?

There are basically two schools of thought regarding the origin of the universe. Either God created the universe and everything in it, or the universe was created by Percy Rowan. (I’m kidding.) Most people believe that either God created it or the universe somehow created itself.

Before I go further, let me expand on both of these theories.

Over the last century, the majority of scientists have accepted the theory that the universe started with a big bang. The basic idea behind the big bang theory is that billion years ago (anywhere from 10 to 30 billion) all the matter in the universe was concentrated into a single point or dot. At some point in history that dot exploded and the universe began to expand from that point. After this explosion random chance took over. Molecules came together to form the various heavenly bodies. Non-living molecules came together to form simple life on earth. Then, over millions of years, things evolved into the complex life we see today. And, according to the theory, the universe is still expanding.

Since the beginning of man, people have held to the belief that God created the universe and everything in it through a series of spoken commands. From the Biblical account of creation found in Genesis Chapter 1, almost like a refrain, we read, “And God said…and it was so…”

Verse 3: “Then God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.”
Verse 6: “Then God said, ‘Let there be an expanse…,’ and,” end of verse 7, “it was so.”
Verse 9: “Then God said, ‘…let the dry land appear;’ and it was so.
Verse 11: “Then God said, ‘Let the earth sprout vegetation…;’ and it was so.
Verse 14: “Then God said, ‘Let there be lights in the expanse…,’ and,” verse 15, “it was so.”
Verse 20: “Then God said, ‘Let the waters teem with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth in the open expanse of heavens,’ and, verse 21, “God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves…and every winged bird after its kind.”
Verse 24: “Then God said,” and the beasts of the earth were created.
And finally verse 26: “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our own image…’ And, verse 27, “God created man in His own image.”

What I hope you will first understand about any theory that deals with the origin of the universe is that it cannot be studied or proven scientifically. The experimental scientific method calls for testing a hypothesis. The beginning of the universe can neither be tested experimentally nor repeated. In addition, no human observer was present to witness the beginning. This leaves lingering questions from both theories unanswered.

For example, even though I believe God created the world, I have no idea how to explain to someone how God was there in the beginning, where He came from, or anything of that nature. It is beyond my understanding. It is beyond the capabilities of even the smartest scientists. I can only look around at the universe surrounding me, make observations about what I see and hear, read what has been written about creation, and then choose to formulate beliefs about how the universe was formed and by whom. According to the Bible, in Hebrews 11:3, this is a matter of faith. “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.”

Like the people who believe God created the world, those who hold firm to the Big Bang theory have uncertainties about how things began as well. Scientists do not know where the original matter came from or what caused it to explode. They can speculate and formulate theories and ideas, but they cannot prove anything scientifically. Therefore, it requires an element of faith to believe in the Big Bang theory. Even NASA seems to agree that the origin of the universe is not something we can completely understand or explain.

According to an article titled Our Expanding Universe: Age, History & Other Facts written by Charles Q. Choi of Space.com – “NASA says it is beyond the model of the Big Bang to say what the universe is expanding into or what gave rise to the Big Bang. Although there are models that speculate about these questions, none of them have made realistically testable predictions as of yet.”

Science cannot prove either theory. They both require an element of faith. Now, having said all of that, let’s return back to my original question: Does it matter how the universe was formed, and by whom?

I believe the answer is yes. What you believe about the origins of the universe will influence how you look at yourself, others, and the world around you.

Reason with me for a little bit. If the world made itself, how would you see yourself? Wouldn’t you be a random piece of matter that really does not matter? How would you see others? If you are just a random piece of matter, then so is everyone else. Eventually this would affect how you treat yourself and other people. You would likely have very little regard for human life. Can you imagine what could happen in this world if an entire generation of young people grew up with this kind of an outlook on human life?

If the world made itself, and we really have no idea if there is any sort of grand design or master plan in mind for the future, then what kind of hope do we have after our few years on earth are complete? Wouldn’t we live our lives with a sense of hopelessness and despair? Wouldn’t we have a hard time finding any meaning or purpose in life and its happenings?

You see, I believe that if God made the world then you are a special creation created for a special purpose. If God made the world then I’m going to look at you as someone who has great value and worth. I’m going to look at myself as someone with a purpose. I’m going to look at the world around me and understand that God has a purpose for all things and all people. Armed with that knowledge I am going to treat others with kindness and respect. I’m going to look at the circumstances in my life differently as well. I am going to see them as opportunities for God to work. He may want to change someone else’s life through mine, or maybe He wants to change me. I don’t always know His plans and purposes, but I do know He has them and I am a part of His grand design. A grand design that includes spending eternity in a place God calls Heaven.

At three or four years old I’m sure that I had no idea how my outlook was being shaped by having parents who told me God created the universe and everything in it. Looking back now I am very grateful because I can see how instrumental it has been in my life. Personally, I do not think it is any mistake that the Bible starts with these words. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” I think it’s the very first thing God wants us to know. I believe it is the foundational truth we need to form a Godly, positive outlook on the world and everything in it.

Feel free to comment and let me know what you think.