For several years, our offices were located on the third floor of an old factory building. An alley ran behind our building, and there was an antique elevator that was useful if you had to transport things to that third floor. If you parked back there, you had to walk by this big old electrical thing that was surrounded by a chain link fence - with a sign that had these words in big print: "High voltage. Do not touch." I never knew anybody who disregarded those instructions.
Monday, January 14, 2002
If you're a photographer, you love seagulls. They soar so gracefully, almost like they're posing for the camera. They're beautiful - when they're alone. When they're together, they are not so beautiful. One gets on a perch, another comes to knock him off. One gets some food, others attack him for it. Scientists put a red band on the leg of one seagull to find out what happened, and he was pecked to death by the other gulls because he had something they didn't. Now contrast that with those Canada Geese some of us see migrating in the Spring and the Fall. They do everything together. Studies show that those geese almost always travel together, usually in those familiar V-formations. They rotate who's in front so one bird doesn't wear out. Now, if one Canada goose is injured and can't go on, another goose will stay with him until he's ready to join another flock - they're never left alone. The scientists even believe that the honking that we hear is actually the geese cheerleading for each other - "Honk! You can make it!" "Honk! Mexico or bust!"
Friday, January 11, 2002
Dr. Christiaan Barnard died recently - a doctor who made medical history. He performed the first successful heart transplant in human history. Since then, the procedure has become much more advanced as a way to extend the life of someone with a failing heart. I've got friends whose lives were radically changed by a heart transplant - an operation from which they recovered in surprisingly short time. I mean, it's pretty amazing to think that a surgeon can literally put a new heart in someone. Of course, heart transplants have been going on since long before Dr. Barnard's historic surgery.
Thursday, January 10, 2002
If you happen to watch the Discovery Channel on cable TV, you can end up seeing some real "reality TV" - including some pretty unusual fare. How about this one, "The Search for the Giant Squid"? No, that is not an adventure flick - it was a documentary about one scientist's quest to film what no one has ever filmed - the giant squid. For the whole hour, the viewer follows this man's almost lifelong pursuit. You watch as the likely target area is identified -- as an expensive expedition follows clues that seem to be leading to the elusive prey - the giant squid. But at the end, you find out you got sucked into an expedition that ultimately failed to find what it was looking for.
Wednesday, January 9, 2002
Years ago a major art gallery sponsored a competition for painters. They were offering prizes for the best painting on the subject of "Peace." As attenders browsed through the entries, most had decided that a one certain painting was almost sure to win. It portrayed this lush green pasture under a vivid blue sky, with the cows grazing lazily and a little boy walking through the grass with his fishing pole over his shoulder. It really made you feel peaceful. But it came in second. The painting that won was a real surprise. The scene was the ocean in a violent storm. The sky was ominous, the lightning was cutting across the sky, and the waves were crashing into the rock walls of the cliffs by the shore. No peace. But you had to look twice to understand what was going on. There, about halfway up the cliff, was a birds' nest, tucked into a tiny hollow in the rock. A mother bird was sitting on that nest - with her little babies, tucked underneath her, sleeping soundly. That was peace!
Tuesday, January 8, 2002
He's a baseball legend. Cal Ripken Jr. played all 21 years of his Major League career with hometown Baltimore Orioles. He holds several defensive records and he is only one of seven players who got 400 home runs and 3,000 hits. But as sportswriters reflected on his career as he retired at the end of the 2001 season, what many considered his most significant achievement was that, for 16 straight years, he played in every single game, setting the all-time record of 2,632 consecutive games played. When the ill will from the 1994 players' strike was still in the air, he tied and passed Lou Gehrig's long-standing record for consecutive games played. The fans cheered loud and long. As one magazine said, "This wasn't Joe DiMaggio hitting in 56 straight games or Hank Aaron's clubbing 755 homers. This was a record that required a talent all mere mortals could display - faithfully showing up for work every day."
Monday, January 7, 2002
When the President of the United States declared a war on terrorism, the lives of millions of American military personnel suddenly changed dramatically. Some of the first to be affected were the crews of our major combat ships, like aircraft carriers. In a matter of days, thousands were shipping out. Reporters were trying to guess what their destinations were. But, of course, not even the crews knew. Except for a few commanders, their orders were unknown.
Wednesday, January 2, 2002
Several of our team members were driving together to ministry events in a nearby state. We were in two cars, but we stayed in touch by means of walkie-talkies. At a couple of points, one of the men in the car behind me pointed out a hawk he spotted soaring gracefully above us. We saw several of them, actually. Now, when you see a hawk or eagle, it is always an event for a city boy like me. But as my friend - who was not driving at the time - pointed out one of those hawks, the man who was driving said, "Well, I just saw a dead coyote on the shoulder." As our walkie-talkie conversations went on during the trip, that wasn't the last hawk the one man saw - or the last road kill that his driver saw.
Tuesday, January 1, 2002
When America decided to go after the Taliban in its war on terrorism, there were a lot of warnings about what a difficult battleground Afghanistan can be - and what a tough enemy the Taliban would be. That is why so many of us were so surprised when the Taliban fighters seemed to retreat so quickly from city after city in Northern Afghanistan as the Northern Alliance advanced. But Taliban defectors said that the relentless American bombing had really affected their morale. The U. S. military strategy going into the Afghan conflict was not a new one - begin with an air war - heavy bombing to "soften up" your enemy before the ground forces make a move. As we learned in the Gulf War, it can lead to a surprisingly quick victory.
Friday, December 28, 2001
My wife was just a girl when her grandparents down the road started building a little farmstead to live in. Because she had expressed a desire to be a missionary someday, Granddad thought she needed to know how to do things for herself - including laying block for a building. So, she got to help lay the block for her grandparents' house. Now in the amazing, surprising ways of God, we are now living in that house - many years after it was built. We kinda kid my wife that the crooked blocks are the ones she did!