Tuesday, August 21, 2001
After our grandson was born, he wore these cute little mittens much of the time. No, it was not freezing cold in his house. It's just that he had these long fingernails - and since he wasn't very good at aiming his hands, he kept scratching his face with those nails. But in an early visit to the pediatrician, she recommended that the gloves come off. "Try to keep his nails trimmed," is what she said, "but even if you can't, it's better for him to have his hands uncovered." Then she said something that was news to me - "We've learned that when an infant can feel and touch things, their brain cells grow!"
Friday, August 17, 2001
Not long ago I got to take one of my favorite East Coast walks. You know, growing up in Illinois, I didn't know much about the ocean. So when we moved to New Jersey, I quickly developed a pretty deep love for the ocean. So it's no surprise that Ocean City is one of my favorite places to go, right? And I love to walk out on one of the long, rock jetties that reach out into the sea from the beach. I really love it at high tide when the surf is crashing in around those rocks. When you see some of those monster waves surging toward those rocks, it looks like there's going to be a classic confrontation between the irresistible force (the ocean) and the immovable object (the rocks). Well, I'll tell you, the ocean sure overwhelms everything else in its way. But every time those rocks I stand on meet the mighty power of the sea, the winner is always the same. The wave is shattered. The rock remains.
Thursday, August 16, 2001
Dr. Henry was one of the most challenging professors I had in college. And I anticipated the final exam in his class was going to be a monumental challenge. Who knows what questions Dr. Henry could throw at us from his incredible intellect! Well, word began to leak out about his final from the first students who took it. They didn't give any details--they just shared one surprising, tantalizing fact. They said, "There's only one question on the exam!" Well, most of us took that news as encouragement as we stood on the edge of academic survival. But when Dr. Henry set the exam in front of us, we weren't quite as encouraged. This entire semester of theology class had been devoted to what the Bible says about the person and work of the Holy Spirit. The professor's question? "Describe the Person and work of the Holy Spirit." Oh boy! Only one question. But what a question!
Wednesday, August 15, 2001
I think I've lost the same five pounds about 200 times--which would be just about enough to make six of me. Actually, I used to weigh almost 50 pounds more, and I lost it a long time ago. But, as you know if you have ever lost a chunk of yourself, the challenge is to keep it off. So I set 165 as my ceiling weight and then 160 as kind of my anchor weight. As my weight starts creeping toward 165 again--which it inevitably will, believe me, I have to reverse all engines immediately. I mean, it's just too hard to fight 20-25 extra pounds. I'd rather fight with five pounds any time...while it's still a more winable battle.
Tuesday, August 14, 2001
If you've ever given a child a helium balloon, you know you had better tie it to something--or soon you're going to have one balloon-less, heartbroken kid. That crazy balloon will just float away and slowly disappear, and all the while that crying child will be pointing at the sky and expecting you to somehow get up there and retrieve it. Now when you go from a helium balloon to a hot-air balloon--the kind that carry people--you don't want that balloon to just go drifting off somewhere. That's why they put those sandbags on hot air balloons--it called ballast. That extra weight holds a balloon down, it helps control the balloon, and, most important, it keeps it from drifting off. Balloons need ballast. So do people.
Monday, August 13, 2001
When our boys were young, I usually knew where to find them on a Saturday morning--watching cartoons on TV. Back then, they were a little more innocent than some of what's offered today. One morning, they called for me to come in to see what was coming on television. And I thought, "Oh great, Smurfs." But when I saw what it was, I dropped what I was doing, sat down and watched it. It was the original episode of my favorite boyhood TV show, "Superman." There he was again in his blue tights and red cape--faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. But as it concluded, I felt this tinge of sadness. I remembered what eventually happened to Superman...actually to the actor who played him. His sudden death was ruled a suicide. They said he had been type cast, and it was hard for Superman to get any other roles. He couldn't be Superman for the rest of his life. No man can.
Friday, August 10, 2001
During a recent summer with our "On Eagles' Wings" Native American outreach team, we had some 5,000 miles to cover in about five weeks. In order to make it to all the reservations to which we had accepted invitations, we really needed a comfortable bus. And God wonderfully provided that through some brothers in Christ. Now our bus driver, Josh, really knew his way across the West, and my wife really didn't. It was often her job to drive another vehicle that we needed. That meant traveling many unfamiliar miles - but she found a way to simplify the process. She just kept her eyes on that bus. If Josh turned, she turned. If Josh stopped, she stopped. She made sure she could even recognize the lights of his bus in case they got separated. She said this trip that could have been so difficult and confusing was actually pretty relaxed and simple. She didn't try to figure out the route for herself. She had a great trip because one thing governed all her choices - following the man who knew the way.
Thursday, August 9, 2001
Our church's youth group had just been out whitewater rafting all day. I had been invited to wrap up the day with an inspirational talk. And when I arrived at the rafting facility they were using, I was expecting to see just the youth group. As it turned out, this recreational company had 1500 people on the river that day from many different groups! So, I wandered around looking lost until someone from our church found me. And that night we had a wonderful get-together under the trees. Now, I didn't know that one girl at the back that had not planned to be there at all. See, she was a Girl Scout who had been there for the day with her troop. And they had somehow gone off and left her all alone. And she saw this group of teenagers meeting, so she wandered over to check it out. And she stayed...and she listened...and at the end, she was one of the young people who indicated they wanted to begin a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Wednesday, August 8, 2001
If you grew up on a farm, there's probably a dog in your memories. For my farm girl, my wife, that dog was a Collie cattle dog named King. King was great at rounding up her Dad's cattle. All Dad would have to do was to whistle that certain whistle, and King would start circling and circling those cattle until he herded them in. But there was a problem. One day a chicken got out, and King killed that chicken - which gave that valuable dog the taste of blood. They tell me if you can't cure that in a dog, you can't afford to keep it. The dog either has to be killed or disciplined so he'll never forget. So Dad took that dead chicken and tied its legs around King's neck with some twine. Needless to say, the dog tried everything to shake that dead chicken, but as the day wore on, the bird he killed did not improve with age. By the end of the day, King's head and tail were hanging low. It's a painful way to learn the seriousness of what he had done...but not nearly as painful as the alternative.
Tuesday, August 7, 2001
When I'm on the road and staying in a motel, I'm often leaving early for that day's responsibilities. But by the time I return late that night, something amazing has happened. The bed is made! I have new, clean towels! Everything is straightened and neat. I even have new little soaps in the bathroom! The Room Fairy has been there! Now, I know that not because I've seen the maid (I haven't), but because I can see the results of her work all over the place.