Happy American Independence Day! I’ve decided to do a DHD today, as it allowed me more time to get things accomplished after my vacation time, which I’ll mention in the first topic.

I hope you are enjoying this July 4 and can celebrate with family and friends this great country of ours. God has truly blessed America. May we observe a moment of thanksgiving during this patriotic period, giving praise to our Lord for allowing the great things that have happened in these 246 years of the USA.

  1. Time in South Dakota

Karen and I had a great vacation at the end of June. We left on Thursday, June 23, and drove straight through to Rapid City, S.D. The trip was 14 hours, but we enjoyed seeing parts of the country we have never seen before. I’ve driven through Kansas quite a few times, but not this far north of the Sunflower State. I’ve never been to Nebraska either—nor South Dakota.

We took the off-the-beaten route and enjoyed seeing a lot of farm land and small towns throughout this journey. I confess, a younger me would not have enjoyed this trip to S.D., but I have grown to appreciate rural America. It seems like a simpler life, even though I’m sure it’s not, but I enjoyed seeing various barns (both rustic and modern), as well as driving through cute downtowns with small business fronts, civic buildings and churches (lots of Lutheran churches in Nebraska, by the way).

To sum up our time in South Dakota, we did all the things, especially Mount Rushmore. I enjoyed learning some of the history behind this gigantic mountain sculpture. The Black Hills offer some beautiful scenery. The Needles Highway through the Black Hills was a personal favorite. It reminded me of the drive we took last year from Durango to Ouray in Colorado. The incredible scenery of mountains and impressive rock formations make Needles Highway and the Black Hills one of the prettiest sites in the country.

Another highlight of our trip included going to Spearfish Falls, which is near Sturgis. There are a few waterfalls in this area, but Spearfish Falls tops all the falls. It’s an 80-foot waterfall, located in a hidden canyon. It’s about mile hike to get to this beautiful setting, but I think it’s worth it.

Two favorite elements of this trip were little population and gorgeous weather. There wasn’t much congestion on any of our drives, which was on mostly two-lane roads. And the temps didn’t get higher than the mid-80s. We even got chilly one day, when it was 57 degrees.

  1. Mohler’s book

I’m in the middle of reading Albert Mohler’s book “Tell Me The Stories of Jesus.” I had a few moments on the trip to read, and I’m enjoying this book. Mohler does not disappoint in sharing different aspects of the parables of Jesus. Most of the parables in the book are well-known, but Mohler gives aspects of these stories that are not commonly considered. And he offers commentary on lesser-known parables too. I’m appreciating those even more.

I’ll do a full review when I finish. Sorry, but I’m a slow reader.

  1. Mohler’s response on voting

Mohler is taking the month of July off, as he commonly does every year, from doing his podcast The Briefing. On the Friday before his break, he actually did two editions of The Briefing, including a special one on the news of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade.

But during his regular Friday episode, he had his usual feature of responding to questions from listeners. One listener, a teenager, asked Mohler what are issues to consider when voting. I love this question, and I especially love Mohler’s response because it’s exactly the answer I would give.

“…if I have to say just one issue, then I’m going to say the issue of life, the sanctity of human life, because that’s at the very beginning,” Mohler said.

He elaborates on the list of other important issues, but he and I are in full agreement. I have mentioned in DHD many times in the past, I will not vote for a candidate who does not value the Sanctity of Human Life, no matter the election. And believe me, with the SCOTUS ruling to overturn Roe, valuing human life becomes even more important.

I hope you agree with me and will never vote for any political candidate who promotes abortion. Perhaps you find disagreements with an opposing candidate, then leave the ballot blank if no alternative pro-life candidate is an option.

Please consider making a commitment to never vote for any candidate who does not value the Sanctity of Human Life. There are other important issues, but human life is at the top of the list.

  1. Falls Creek report

The youth weeks at Falls Creek Baptist Conference Center have finished the midway point. After four weeks, there have been a total of 2,745 spiritual decisions made with 1,369 professions of faith in Christ. There have also been 236 students who answered the call to serve in ministry and missions. This is an awesome report!

With four more weeks of Falls Creek summer camp, continue to pray for God to move among young people, who are greatly needed to impact the world for Christ.

  1. One of the best articles on the impact of social media

You’ve read before in previous DHDs of me raving about Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra. Check out a Q&A article she did with Paul Poteat with Campus Outreach.

The article is titled, “Social Media Should Come With a Warning Label.”

Brian Hobbs, Baptist Messenger editor, consistently writes about the dangers and concerns of social media, so I know he can appreciate what this article shares.

Poteat explains why his 13-year-old daughter is the only one at her school who does not have a smart phone. He also offers staggering facts of comparing the market of cigarette and beer producers to Facebook’s net worth.

Yes, this article is an important read.

  1. Thunder thoughts

Yes, I’m happy with the offseason moves with the Oklahoma City Thunder. I’m intrigued by the four draft picks. I am ecstatic about the Thunder resigning Lu Dort, as well as offering Mike Muscala a one-year extension.

Summer league starts this week, so it will be interesting to see how the rookies and two- and three-year players perform.

As far as who will no longer be on the roster, I have some ideas but don’t know for certain. I did read that Isaiah Roby was waved. I believe Theo Maledon, Ty Jerome, Vit Krejci and JaMychal Green (recent pick-up with future draft pick from Denver) will not appear on the roster next season.

As far as how competitive the Thunder will be next season, I have a hard time believing the Thunder will do a full-out tanking. I think this team will be similar to the 2009 Thunder, the second year of the franchise, which lost to the Lakers in the first round. That was a competitive team, and this squad should resemble a similar level of competitiveness, barring key injuries.