It has been a crazy winter a lot of places—some very cold, cold, lots of snow and some unusually warm days thrown in. That could be one reason we keep hearing about people who've been killed by a sudden avalanche. The authorities are taking some steps to do what they can to prevent avalanches. They get this cannon that they fire and they shoot it into vulnerable accumulations of snow. They're actually trying to start an avalanche! The theory is that when you do a small avalanche, you can avoid a big one.
Hey, keep your eye on the sky tonight. There’s supposed to be a lunar eclipse. It’s always interesting to see the moon’s light disappearing. Of course, the moon really has no light of its own; it’s a big hunk of dead rock. It’s reflecting the light of the sun at the times of day when we can’t see the sun. Now, the light on the moon goes out when something… Well, actually, the earth comes between the moon and its source of light.
With love in the air this time of the year, I was thinking about my first real crush. I was all of 13 and desperate to find a way to get on Wendy's radar. So I went out and I spent all my allowance on a little necklace for her. I wrote note thought was romantic masterpiece. I handed it all to her in an envelope in study hall. The next day I smelled her perfume as she approached my desk. And what to my wondering eyes should appear, but the note and the necklace handed back to me! I'm still in counseling.
Talk about “Extreme Makeover”, you should see what I saw not long ago. What one man has done with this building: 200,000 square foot eyesore not long ago. It was this abandoned old factory building in a deteriorating part of the city. But one Christian businessman saw something no one else saw—the potential of an army of volunteers and tradesmen mobilizing to turn that abandoned building into a center for ministries of compassion and outreach in his city. And today the love of Christ is going out from that building on a daily basis.
Recently I was taken on a tour of a building that houses several ministries, including what the guide identified as the Christian Bow Hunters’ Association. Well, that got my attention. My guide explained that these brothers have regular get-togethers that reach out to men who love bow hunting as they do, but who don’t know their Jesus. And it’s really working or hitting the mark you might say.
My wife and I were able to be there for the birth of our new grandson. It was exciting, but not as exciting for our daughter-in-law. I was just outside when our little guy arrived, and it was clear even from there that it was a painful and intense delivery—which I think is the only kind there is. It didn’t come as a surprise to our daughter-in-law. She did this before two years ago when she had our granddaughter. But knowing how painful it was going to be, she did it again, and millions of women have. And the lesson of childbirth might be just some encouragement to you right now if you’re trying to understand what God’s doing in your life right now.
This is the day Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, hits front pages across the country. It’s Groundhog Day and they’ve got the groundhog! The little guy tells us if we’ll have six more weeks of winter based on whether or not he sees his shadow. There’s even a movie called Groundhog Day centered on this scientific event. Bill Murray is a cynical newsman who has a strange experience as he’s covering the event. He keeps reliving the same day over and over again—Groundhog Day. It drives him crazy, but ultimately it changes his life.
It’s almost here—Super Bowl Sunday! Water departments in major cities have reported they can tell when the commercials come on; the water pressure suddenly drops dramatically and simultaneously—millions of people taking a bathroom break at the same time—a lot of people watching. I hope it’s a thriller like last year. Of course, last year my team won—the New York Giants. Tom Coughlin, the coach, explained why he thought his underdog team upset the almost unbeatable New England Patriots. He said, “These guys took their names off their jerseys and left their egos at the locker room door.”
If the Super Bowl is like a lot of great games, you don’t necessarily have to watch the whole game if you’re busy. So many times, it’s all decided in the last two minutes—after they sound that two-minute warning. Because when you know there’s not much time left in the game, you abandon all caution and you go for broke.
It’s the nicest garbage truck I’ve ever seen…it’s bright and clean and new—it’s in a recent TV commercial for a waste management company. As the truck makes its way through the gleaming streets of a big city, people watch it go by appreciatively, admiringly. It’s very realistic, of course. I love their motto though: “The waste we collect helps power over a million homes.” Now, that’s cool! Garbage recycled into power that helps a lot of lives.
It is getting crazier out there—the governor of a major state trying to sell a senate seat to the highest bidder…one of the most trusted financial leaders on Wall Street has been involved in schemes that are costing investors millions of dollars! It’s getting harder and harder to know who you can trust politically, financially. It’s not fair to cast a cloud over whole categories of people because of some bad apples, but it’s really getting tougher to know who you can trust.
It’s a very small club–only 43 times has a man become the President of the United States…and now 44. No matter their political differences, there’s a strange bond between these men who have borne these unique burdens. And there’s one President whose life many of them turn to for guidance, including President Obama. That man is, of course, Abraham Lincoln. We all have a lot to learn from him.
I can only imagine the unspeakably deep feelings of my African-American brothers and sisters with the historic inauguration of America’s first black President. The milestone stands at the pinnacle of a story that begins with slave ships, shackles, segregation and shame. What could have been more degrading than to be owned by another human being and listed as property? It’s no wonder many of those slaves risked their lives trying to be free. History tells us that some who made it out were buried with just four telling words on their tombstones: “Born slave, died free.”
In the final days of his Presidency, over 2,000 people are lined up hoping for one last act on George Bush’s watch. They’re lobbying for a last-minute Presidential pardon—a White House “get out of jail” card. He has the power to give official forgiveness and change the rest of their life. It’s no wonder they’re desperately seeking a pardon.
It’s the kind of holiday story that made me feel sick in the pit of my stomach: out of control bargain-hunters stormed into a Long Island store on the day after Thanksgiving and trampled the worker at the door to death. Four other people were taken to the hospital with their injuries, including a woman eight months pregnant. Is it really that important to get a couple hundred dollars off a plasma screen?
I really like Kurt Warner. He’s old, but he’s beating the young guys! If you follow professional football, you know that Kurt Warner is one of the oldest quarterbacks in the NFL. A few years ago, he led the St. Louis Rams to glory and he was named the NFL’s Most Valuable Player. Now he’s led the Arizona Cardinals through a great season with a string of games where he’s passed for over 300 yards. But it’s not Kurt Warner’s ageless football ability that makes him an MVP in life. It’s what he does with the position he’s got.
It was the decisive word in America’s Presidential election. It’s the word that helped make Barack Obama the next President of the United States–change. As we approach a historic Inauguration Day, a lot of people are counting on the fulfillment of the rallying cry of Barack Obama’s campaign, “change you can believe in.”
I don’t want to hear that bugs are eating the trees in New England, but they are. That’s been our favorite place to go in the Fall to see the most amazing colors in the country. But now these Asian longhorn beetles have landed in central Massachusetts (I thought the Longhorns were from Texas.) They’re immune to insecticides and they’re attacking those beautiful maples and elms and birches. Now, timber, syrup, and Fall tourism–they’re all tied to those trees. So they’ve declared all-out war on those beetles. They can’t afford the damage they’re doing!
If you own a home like we do, or more accurately you take care of the bank’s home, you can imagine the heartache of that word foreclosure. It’s happening at record rates–like 240,000 homes lost in just three months recently. Feels like they’re not just foreclosing on your house, but your dreams. Not long ago, Tracy Orr stood watching her foreclosed home get sold off to the highest bidder. One auction attendee was touched by Tracy’s predicament. She bid on the home even though she’d never seen it; she won the home for a bid of under $30,000, and then she let Tracy move right back in.
Who would expect wildfires just before Thanksgiving, like they just had near Los Angeles? Of course fire fighters in Southern California expect them any time of the year. About a year ago this time, some of them were fighting the Santiago fire in Orange County. Twelve of those guys went up on this hill and began to battle the flames there, and the wind changed and suddenly they were trapped with flames that were racing up the hill toward them. Later they said the ground was 300 degrees around them, and they were there for 15 minutes in those flames. A reporter watching it said, “I don’t think they’re going to make it.” Well thankfully, choppers came in the nick of time with water and doused the flames. Later, the fire captain asked a whole big group of firefighters for volunteers to go back and fight that fire again. All 12 of those guys put their hands up. Here’s what the newscaster said about their heroism, “Once again they laid their lives on the narrow line between life and death.”
I’ve seen on the news…we’ve all seen way too many times, stunned and sobbing students, holding each other tightly, trying to cope with the unthinkable that just happened—another campus shooting. This one was the largest mass shooting in U. S. history—Virginia Tech, remember, 32 people killed. One was 19-year-old Mary Read, and on the day of her funeral, her father found her little red notebook, and he read her final entry at the funeral. She said, “When a deep injury is done us, we never recover until we forgive.”
The DVD of another season of “Happy Days” just came out and people are scarfing them up. It was one of the most popular sitcoms of all time; it took us back to the 50s with the help of Mr. Motorcycle, Arthur Fonzarelli–you know, Fonzie. Usually he had something cool to say, but there were three words he just couldn’t get out, “I was wrrrrooo”. He could never say, “I was wrong.” He’s not the only one who has a hard time saying those words.
I don’t know how it got started, but it quickly became our family’s New Year’s Eve tradition. We gave everyone a sheet of colored construction paper with letters for “Happy New Year” in acrostic form down the side. Now, our mission was to use each letter to start some resolution that we wanted to make for the next year. Like ”H”–hug more…”A”–aggravate my brother less…”P”–pitch in on yard work. Wait, I think I just dreamed that my boys wrote that. At least we were looking ahead. Right?
I was going over some business with my assistant when a young man from our staff came to my door. My assistant said, “Not now, I’m busy.” He looked embarrassed and he started to back away. There was something he didn’t understand. I said, “Hey, look down at the shirt you’re wearing!” He did. It said, “Not now, I’m busy.” He wondered why she had been so rude. She wasn’t. She was just reading what he was wearing!
We gave Noah’s Ark as a gift to our three-year old grandson. This is a good-sized wooden ark that’s got all kinds of animal passengers he can play with. My son just called and said, “Dad, you’ll never guess who was with Noah on the ark?” I couldn’t. He said, “Lightning McQueen.” That’s a race car character from a movie, and it’s also our grandson’s fascination. So now, our grandson has Lightning McQueen on the deck of Noah’s Ark, talking with the animals who are encircling him.
I didn’t get to pick my birthday, but I like it; it’s during the Christmas season. As a kid, when you have a Christmas season birthday, it can work for or against you. I did my best to make it work for me. Since it was so close to Christmas, “Hey, listen, could you get me this big thing I really want?” Hey, it usually worked. It’s not working so well for me now that I grew up. But with all the celebration that’s in the air, I still think this is a wonderful time to be born.
If you’re going through some hard times this Christmas season, your man is going to be Joseph. He says yes to God when God tells Him to marry his virgin fiancé Mary who is pregnant by a miracle from God–a story no one’s going to believe. He’s living under this cloud in his town; his reputation is in question; then he gets a double hit of bad news–Caesar Augustus, the Roman Emperor, wants to raise taxes and Joseph has to make a grueling 90-mile trip to his hometown of Bethlehem to register. Mary is ready to deliver! He does what God wants him to do, and things just keep going downhill. But there’s something going on that’s so much bigger than what he can see, just like there is in your life and mine.
Be careful with your credit card these days; a lot of identity theft going on. My friend had her purse taken off the back of her restaurant chair; got a call two days later—somebody was buying stuff in Argentina with her card. It can be expensive to lose your identity.
The store owners have been really nervous this Christmas season, because they’re afraid shoppers are going to be a lot more cautious with their money this year. Hey, there’s a lot of uncertainty about the economy. So like those who have money are trying to hang onto it. It looks like we’ll be spending less this Christmas. God didn’t have that option that first Christmas.