We head home from Alaska in a couple of days. Patty will be at home cleaning house and playing with grandkids, and I will head off on my 2,000 mile bicycle trip. I am hoping it is going to be fun, exciting, and that my Parkinson’s will get much better from all the exercise that I will be getting. It is funny how I look forward to everything on my calendar for the next year. During the summer I have fishing trips planned, hunting trips, and family events. But of the things on the calendar for the next year the thing I am most excited about is the start of my “Leadership Classes” the first weekend in October. Teaching those classes, men’s, ladies, and leadership II are the most fulfilling activities in my life. I am spending a lot of time now going over my lecture notes and trying to think of information and teaching techniques that will make the classes better. Not everybody grows spiritually while in the class but many do, and it is so rewarding to know that God has used me to make a difference in someone’s life that will last forever. The most rewarding part is when many plug into ministry and start making a major difference with their own life. Several guys who went through leadership class, then moved away and coasted for 20 years, not doing much for the Lord have now jumped into ministry in their churches and are having a huge impact in their respective churches. It doesn’t get any better than that!!
Halibut Fishing in Alaska
I built a drift boat two years ago when I came to Soldotna, Alaska and I left it at “Tim’s Place” to use in subsequent years. Last year I built a trailer for it. What I have wanted to do is take it out in the ocean halibut fishing and today we did just that. It was a bit precarious driving on the sand, but we got the boat in the water and out again and caught 5 halibut, the biggest one was 60 lbs. I considered the maiden voyage for my boat in the ocean a great success. Guys come up to “Tim’s Place” to fish for sockeye salmon, but there are slow days and it would be cool if we could take them Halibut fishing. The charters charge $400 per person and you can only keep one fish. So “Duke’s Halibut Fishing” is free and way more fun, what a deal! Those on the maiden voyage was my grandson Wyatt, his dad, my son-in-law Philip, and me. We only went out 1/4 mile and fished in 20 feet of water but we caught five fish in one hour, amazing.
Moose in Alaska
Lots of moose in Alaska. These were in the yard at the house where we are staying. When I get up in the morning to go to the room where the bathroom is I scare a moose or he scares me most mornings. We see them almost every day as we drive into town and around. You don’t want to hit one while driving! This last two picture is the way I like to see moose.
Fishing in Alaska
In our surf fishing in Alaska trying to catch Halibut, we caught this thing called a “skate”. We didn’t keep it, but it is kind of exciting reeling it in.
My son- in-law and his brother are building a shop in Soldotna and I am getting ready to fish. I got everything pretty much all ready to go so tomorrow they will finish the shop and I will get everything ready to go and then we will fish for halibut out of my drift boat Friday and Saturday. In the meantime am having a good time doing a lot of studying and reading and writing and some fishing stuff.
I went into a store today to buy a couple of cans of spray paint for my boat and as I was waiting for the clerk to finish ringing everything up I saw a box of “Rollows” on the desk. Rollows are a chocolate candy with caramel centers that are amazingly good tasting. I have not eaten any sugar for almost a month and I have been feeling better and better for this past month, but seeing that candy I couldn’t resist and I got one and ate it on the drive back to the fish camp. When I got back my legs started hurting so bad I could hardly walk.
I was reinforced in my belief that sugar is a major cause and reason for my Parkinson’s acting up do much of late. I know what it does to me but I still have trouble resisting the urge to eat just a little bit! Sometimes I can’t believe what a wimp I am when it comes to self-control!
Yesterday we drove from Fairbanks to the Kenai Peninsula in about 9 hours. Philip my son-in-law has a building job and I am going to fish. The drive was amazingly beautiful as we drove by Denali and lots of other mountains. I couldn’t help but think of one of my memory verses, Romans 1:18-20, “ for since the creation of the world God’s invisible attributes, His eternal power, and His divine nature are clearly seen being understood through what has been made so that they are without excuse.”
Proverbs 17:6 Grandchildren are the crown of old men,
This is one of my favorite verses in the Bible now. It is kind of funny but I don’t really say much to my grandkids. I mostly just watch them as they talk to others and do their thing. I pray for them a lot all during the day when I am watching them, imagining what they are going to become and accomplish with their life. With my six Alaska grandkids I don’t see them enough to have a relationship where I would feel comfortable teaching them anything, so I mostly just joke with them. But I do write in the evening my observations and what I need to pray about so that they will grow up to be champions for Jesus. I believe that God has given me a special jurisdiction in praying for my family, I have a power and influence with God on their behalf that nobody else has so I don’t want to neglect that. One of my life verses is James 5:16 “ The fervent prayer of a righteous man accomplishes much.” I remember when Patty and I would go to the boy’s basketball games and the girl’s volleyball games through High School and College I would sit in the stands and pray with so much fervency for them to do well that I would get a chest ache. The day after a game I would be so wrung out emotionally that I would sleep an extra four hours to recuperate. My grandkids are indeed a crown and I have 28 of them.
Hook in the Hand
Every kid who fishes a lot while growing up eventually gets a hook in the flesh somewhere. The best place is the hand as opposed to any place on the head, arms or back, though places covered with cloths are usually safe. We went fishing today with the grandkids for Artic Grayling and the youngest of the boys got a hook in the hand by standing to close to his brother who was casting. We cut the line off and left it in until we got home, and then Philip pushed the hook through, cut off the barb, and then pulled it out, quick, clean, and simple, but not without a little pain and tears. But soon it was just a story and all was good.
In the book of Job in the Bible it says that, “man was born for troubles as sparks fly upwards.” One of our goals in raising our kids was that they would be tough. A tough person expects that trials, troubles, and problems are coming on a regular basis because that is just the way it is. When they do come, they deal with it, solve it, fix it, overcome it, and live with it. They don’t fuss much, feel sorry for themselves, or blame others. They almost always get tougher and grow in character, and enjoy the stories that come from it. It was good to see my grandkids are being raised to be tough as well. It made my grandpa heart proud.
One of my least enjoyable experiences in life is being scolded by someone. In the early years of my ministry I was always looking for mentors. I found three that had a major impact on my life and ministry. But in the process of searching for mentors, I passed over at least a dozen guys who were very successful as Pastors, but the way they communicated with me made me feel like a failure. One guy in particular was very good and he was very anxious to work with me, but I found myself looking for excuses to cancel my next meeting with him. I finally decided that along with the teaching I needed to be encouraged and motivated so I bowed out of that relationship.
It seems like the profession that is most inclined to scold are parents. My observation is that most parents do very little actual parenting until their kid does something wrong or that irritates them, and then they scold them. The word that is used most often in the Bible for parenting is training and teaching. Correcting wrong behavior is important but it can be delayed a bit after the offense and done in a positive way that encourages and motivates.
On the way home from a dairy farmer meeting with my Dad he asked me what would be an effective way to dishonor another person if I wanted to do that. I responded by saying, “Call them a name.” He responded by saying, “Yeh, that would certainly be dishonoring for sure. Did you call anyone in the meeting a name?” I said, “No, I would never do that!” He then said, “I know you wouldn’t do that, but you still dishonored almost everyone at the meeting tonight.” I immediately wrinkled up my face in puzzlement trying to remember doing that. Dad then said, “A very effective way to dishonor another person is to ignore them, and on the other hand, a great way to honor a person is to acknowledge their presence. Which did you do at the meeting?” I didn’t answer as I thought about how I had acted. Dad went on to say, “I had decided to not bring you anymore even though you like to come because of all the donuts and hot chocolate you want, but I will give you one more chance to act like a man instead of a kid. At the next meeting, before you head for the refreshments, you walk around the room and honor people.” Again, I was silent as I tried to figure out exactly what that meant. Dad could see I was trying to figure out what I was supposed to do, and he then spoke into the vacuum that had formed in my mind as I pondered this assignment. “Walk around and introduce yourself to at least three people that you don’t know. Stick out your hand and say, ‘Hi, my name is Dee Duke, I am Delbert’s son, it is good to meet you.’ “ “They will respond by shaking your hand and telling you their name, and you will have made their day.”
He went on to say, “Kids get their donuts and hot chocolate and go sit in the corner and suck their thumb, communicating loudly that they don’t care about anybody, but themselves.” “You are a man!” Needless to say, at the next meeting I walked around like I owned the place introducing myself to almost everyone that I didn’t know feeling very much like a man and beaming as I saw my Dad’s look of approval and pride in me as his son.
Life is Good
We are in Fairbanks, Alaska spending time with our daughter Shelly, her husband Philip, and their 6 wonderful kids, our grandkids. We are not doing much, just hanging out with family, drinking coffee, eating, and talking. It is always interesting to think about some of the most enjoyable of times and what makes them enjoyable. Fishing, hunting, building things, preaching, teaching, and traveling are some of the best of times, but nothing tops fellowshipping with family. I suppose after time it might get boring, but not so far.
I often wonder what we will be doing in heaven and what will make it the best experience ever and the place of infinite joy. We will be there for a long time and I am sure it will be more than sitting around playing harps.
My Parkinson’s medication causes me to have dreams. I have never had much in the way of dreams most of my life so this is a new thing. They are very clear and detailed and often very weird. I have been experimenting on how to control what I dream about. Last night I worked for an hour on memorizing Bible verses on eternity and heaven right before I went to sleep and that is exactly what I dreamt about. I am not sure I liked all that I dreamt about heaven, one dream had us traveling around with rockets on our backs. It is amazing how creative our minds can be in creating scenes and plots while we are sleeping. I am thinking that the way world events are going that we aren’t far from getting raptured into heaven. I think tonight I will work on verses about the rapture and see what my creative mind comes up with for that one!
I have a very real faith and relationship with Jesus Christ, and my confidence and hope of living for eternity with God is strong. There are many people who don’t know for sure what is happening to them when they die. They are just hoping for the best. The “Lake of Fire” is a very real place, and many who aren’t sure where they are going will find themselves there. I don’t think I will program my mind to dream about that awful place, that would classify as a nightmare. If you are one of those or know people like that I would love to interact via email, texting, or phone calls, and explain clearly how to know for sure your eternal destiny.