Friday, November 2, 2018

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Our family was staying in, well, as the camp song says, "a little cabin in the woods." As soon as we got unpacked, our seven or eight-year-old son went for an exploratory bike ride up the trail. When he returned he got going a little fast, and then he hit this patch of gravel right near the cabin. The bike spun out from under him and he hit that ground pretty hard. When he got up, there was a lot of blood around his mouth. He had broken a tooth and it punctured his lip. So, we raced him to a hospital emergency room where they fixed him up with a few stitches. Now, he took the second bike ride that day. That was the tough part; especially after what had happened on the first bike ride. But his Mother and I encouraged him to get right back on his bike. We knew if he didn't, it might take him a long time to get the confidence back to ever ride again. Well, sure enough, the boy bounced back. In spite of his fall, he decided to ride again and he kept riding for many years after that. 

Thursday, November 1, 2018

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A lot of great sights to see in New Orleans. But it's hard to think of New Orleans for very long without remembering Hurricane Katrina and the devastating wind and waves that so wracked that city. Now, afterwards of course, there was a lot of finger-pointing as to who was to blame for those tragedies. And the subsequent revelations showed that there seemed to be plenty of blame to go around at all levels. But one fact became clear: the single greatest cause of death in New Orleans' darkest days didn't come so much from the storm but from the levees that couldn't hold back the waters of the storm. The walls around New Orleans just weren't strong enough to withstand like a high-magnitude storm.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

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We had three children, two boys and a girl. Our boys had the privilege of growing up with a sister. Did they always get along with their sister? Silly question! Of course not. But if it ever looked as if anyone was going to hurt their sister, oh, stand back folks! I mean, they even insisted on the right to approve the guys she dated; they wanted veto power. Almost no one was good enough for their sister. They didn't want her to be with anyone who wasn't going to be good for her. I guess if you're a brother with a sister, you know what I'm talking about-this strong instinct to protect your sister or eventually any woman you care about, from anything that could hurt her.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

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When our friends heard that our family had been invited to Alaska for a week of ministry, they were all excited for us. They said, "Oh, it's beautiful, you're going to love it! When are you going?" "February." "Oh." See, I get invited to places like Florida and Arizona in the summer, and Alaska in the dead of winter. We had a wonderful week, but the time came for my wife and kids to fly home because they had to get back to school, and I stayed for several more days of ministry. We were out on the Kenai Peninsula, in an area that felt fairly remote. We arrived at this small airport one night to rendezvous with our pilot. Dick was a missionary pilot, trained by Moody Bible Institute's top-flight pilot's school and he was experienced in flying into many remote areas of Alaska. But that night his cargo was the people I love most. My first cause for a little worry was his request to help him push the plane out of the hangar and onto the runway. That was new! Yeah, and it was icy. I had never pushed my plane into position before. I didn't like that runway. It was covered with thick, deeply-rutted ice from one end to the other. And at the end of this fairly short runway was a big stand of trees you could run into. Oh yeah, and it was heavily overcast-no moon, no stars. Well, I helped my wife and three children crowd into Dick's little Cessna, I waved good-bye as they started bouncing and maneuvering down that icy runway. I really didn't like the conditions, but I was okay because I really trusted the pilot.

Monday, October 29, 2018

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It happened decades ago, but it's one of those events I'll never really forget. It happened in Chicago where I grew up. It was the most devastating tragedy most of us would remember from that time. It was December 1, 1958, and a fire broke out at the foot of a stairway in the Our Lady of the Angels School. That fire raged out of control very quickly; it cut off all normal escape routes. Ninety grade school children died in that fire. But there's one I remember vividly from a news account that I read at the time and I still have not forgotten it. This little boy was in a second story window-they actually had a photo of him. The boy's father was down below, yelling to him to jump into his arms. That boy could see the fire racing toward him from behind, but he refused to jump. Then, one awful moment, the boy disappeared from the window. He was one of those victims.

Friday, October 26, 2018

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I grew up on the south side of Chicago, and honestly we did not have a lot of sheep running around. So I listened with fascination when I heard my father-in-law tell about being the shepherd for his family's flock of sheep. He was just a boy, he was the only child, and Mom and Dad left the sheep pretty much with him, and he was with them a lot. One day he and his parents were watching the flock and he said, "Would you like me to call one of them out?" Right, kid. Like one sheep is going to know it's him you want? So Mom and Dad kind of laughed. The little shepherd asked them to pick a sheep they wanted called out, and then he made a little bleating sound and the selected sheep proceeded to leave the flock and come right to him. Mom and Dad were still skeptical. So he said, "OK, pick another sheep." And they did. Another bleat, and Mr. Sheep answered the call. And no one else could get that kind of response. That little exercise was repeated several times, until there was no denying the amazing fact: those sheep had such a personal relationship with their shepherd that his was the only voice they followed.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

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If they ever ask me to be a participant in those Nielsen ratings of who's watching what TV show, they'll probably find me watching the Weather Channel more than a lot of viewers. Oh, not necessarily because I'm intrigued with low-pressure systems, or barometric readings, or cumulonimbus clouds, (See, I do watch.) but because I want to see my future in the places I might be traveling to. But sometimes, they don't have the weather on. I remember a while back they had a primetime documentary show called "Storm Stories." Now while the story of a storm that happened twenty years ago isn't going to help me plan for tomorrow, the stories were pretty dramatic. They often featured amazing accounts of the people who survived major weather disasters-and the people who didn't. It was especially interesting to see what steps would help you to be a storm survivor rather than a storm victim.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

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She was one of the most admired women in the world-Mother Teresa, that angelic woman who devoted her life to the least of the least in the slums of Calcutta, India. The world's greatest leaders wanted to meet her and to experience her love and her moral authority. And actually, she was just a diminutive woman who made such a difference in the world. Some years ago, a young man wrote a letter to Mother Teresa, asking her how he could make his life count as she had with hers. He waited six months for a reply from this very busy lady. When it came, it was just a postcard with just four words on it-four very powerful words-"Find your own Calcutta."

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

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"They were our pilots. It was our aircraft. The aircraft should not have been on that runway." That's what an executive of Singapore Airlines told reporters after their Los Angeles-bound jumbo jet crashed on takeoff from Taipei, Taiwan. It snapped into three pieces and it burst into flames. Eighty-one of the 179 passengers aboard died in that crash. It was a crash that never should have happened. The pilot somehow ended up on a runway full of construction equipment. The resulting collision was obviously deadly. The pilot had warnings; preflight briefing papers and two big signs indicating the number of the runway he mistakenly went down, but it didn't matter. He was on the wrong runway.

Monday, October 22, 2018

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Connie was in the campus outreach club I ran near her high school. In some ways, she was a typical teenager. In other ways, her life was very different from her peers. Every morning about 5:00 A.M.-while her peers were still sound asleep-Connie was at the local ice skating rink, practicing. And when her friends were all enjoying their summer off, well, she was in Colorado in a rigorous training program for ice skaters. A few years later, my wife and I were in Holland teaching a European youth workers conference. As I was in our bungalow, preparing for the next meeting, I had the TV on in the background, with a telecast of the Winter Olympics going. I wasn't paying much attention because the commentary was in Dutch, and my Dutch isn't what it used to be. But suddenly I heard a name I recognized-Connie's name. I looked up in time to see her on the screen, proudly representing her country in the quest for Olympic glory. You know what? I knew how she got there.

            

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Harrison, AR 72602-0400

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