Thursday, November 13, 2003

The day is about to end. I invite my wife to go for a romantic walk with me as we look toward the West at the beautiful colors of the - well, you'll probably say sunset, right? And so would I. But we would be scientifically incorrect. Since when does the sun set? The sun doesn't go anywhere; it's the earth that's moving! So, "Honey, let's go for a romantic walk and watch the beautiful ... earth set?" No, I don't think so! Well, actually, the American Scientific Association discovered in a survey that 21% of the Americans they asked thought the sun orbited around the earth, and 7% didn't know! That's almost one out of three Americans who's confused about what is revolving around what!

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Well, I'm not much of photographer, but I'm married to one. So, a few years ago I was able to open doors to minister to our local football team by being on the sidelines and shooting slides of them in action. Now, my wife gave me this crash course in photography, and one thing I had to learn fast was how to focus my lens. See, I was shooting from all different angles, all different distances. If I said, "Well, I'll just focus my lens on this first photo, and then I'll leave it like that," I would have had a pile of blurry pictures and not many friends on the football team. See, the picture kept changing, and I had to constantly refocus for each new situation.

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

If I ever want to know anything about gardening, I ask the man in my world who is the master gardener - my friend, Mel. He doesn't ever need to shop in the produce department - he has his own produce department in his backyard in this fabulous garden of his. Not long ago he was telling me about these incredible raspberries he saw growing in the woods near his home. But why have to go hunting for them in the woods, huh, when you can just transplant those raspberries and grow them in your own garden, right?

Well, Mel was sorry he did that. In the woods, where God planted them, the berries had been big and many. In Mel's garden, where he planted them, those same bushes produced berries that were small and few.

Monday, November 10, 2003

In every sport, and in every season, there is always that one event that everyone calls "The Big Game." And it is not unusual for real champions to rise to the challenge and put in a powerful performance - so much so that they absolutely cream the other team! But there's also a strange phenomenon that often follows the Big Game - it's called the Big Letdown. It's amazing how a team that has just buried another great team can go into their next game all flat and sloppy. It is not uncommon for the winner of the Big Game to go into that next game - often against a much lesser opponent, and they look terrible - they lose miserably. They literally go right from powerful to pitiful.

Tuesday, November 4, 2003

I don't expect to be inspired when I eat at McDonald's, but recently I got a little inspiration with my burger and fries. There was this striking poster on the wall. It showed two mountain climbers near the peak of this Alpine mountain, straining to reach the top. But it was the inscription that impressed me most. "Conquest without risk is a triumph without glory."

Monday, November 3, 2003

Missionary pilots are my personal heroes - especially since the incredible job they did moving our Native American team across Alaska recently. Often there really wasn't much of a runway to land on or good weather to fly in, but they always got us there safely. Now, on one flight, I was in the co-pilot seat in our little six-seater aircraft, and our pilot, Gary, was flying us to a Yukon River village through some low visibility, low ceilings - just generally lousy weather. And as we neared our destination, he said, "I hate this part. We're in the dead zone." Now "dead zone" isn't exactly what I want to hear from a pilot when I'm flying with him, so I asked Gary what he meant by that. He described that part of a flight where you cannot communicate with the tower or with any other aircraft. You're kind of all alone. It doesn't last long, he explained, but if you're in trouble or you're going down, nobody knows. It's a lonely stretch. Well, after a couple more minutes, Gary broke into a big smile and he said, "Good. We're back." I smiled, too.

Friday, October 31, 2003

Movies wouldn't be nearly as exciting without those stunt men. You know those high-priced stars aren't going to take all the risks that give the viewer those big thrills. Every once in a while, a script will call for a man to fall off a building or a cliff. And that star says, "I'm outta here, folks." But later the viewer will see a man hurtling through the air backwards, and you know it isn't a dummy because his arms are flailing. Or maybe some might argue that the stunt man is a dummy for taking a plunge like that. But it sure looks like we won't be seeing that falling man again. Oh, but appearances aren't everything. No! It looks like he's headed for a crash, but he's actually headed for a net!

I had the TV on while I was getting ready to go somewhere, and I caught a snatch of a TV talk show. The host was interviewing a former FBI agent - a man who had successfully infiltrated the Mafia and had been responsible for some major indictments. Now, in his underground life, he was, as you might expect, surrounded by cocaine. The talk show host asked the FBI man, "Did you ever have to use cocaine to maintain your cover?" Good question - after all, his life depended on his fitting in. But he answered that question with a firm "No." The host said, "Then how did you avoid having to use cocaine?" I liked his answer. It might even help you where you're feeling the pressure to fit in.

Monday, October 27, 2003

I used to just be concerned about me or someone I love picking up a virus. Now I have to be concerned about my computer picking up a virus! And more and more of them are infecting various computer systems. Now, if one of those viruses contaminates your computer, it can cause you to lose valuable data. It can even cause your computer to crash. But, thankfully, I have this special software feature that's called a virus scan. When I turn on my computer, basically the virus scan checks to see if any of those destructive little bugs have gotten in, and it warns me if they have. And that's a good thing. You want to get it before it infects everything.

Friday, October 24, 2003

The first hijackers I remember in the headlines were terrorists who kidnapped airplanes and their passengers and released them if and when their demands were met. But since the events of September 11, 2001, the word "hijacker" has taken on a new and more deadly significance. Now we know it can mean someone who takes over a plane and its passengers with the intent of using that plane as a deadly weapon. On a smaller scale, some of our big cities have had to deal with the relatively new threat of carjacking, where a criminal forcibly takes over the car of some unfortunate driver. I think most of us would agree, hijacking in any form is wrong, and it should be punished with serious penalties.

            

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