Dino and Nanette are dear Navajo friends of ours and now they're Mr. and Mrs.! How we wanted to be at that wedding because these are two very special friends, two very special Native American Christian leaders. We couldn't be, but our son, who lives near where the wedding was in New Mexico, called that afternoon and described the wedding to us, as well as any man can describe a wedding. I choked up when I heard about their wedding vows. Dino made his vows to Nanette on bended knee. Nanette made her vows to Dino and then handed him a beautiful Navajo blanket. But this was not just any blanket. It had belonged to her father who died several years ago and it represented a relationship and memories that she treasures. This blanket was Nanette's father's love gift to her. And in this moment of commitment now, she was handing her new husband this most precious treasure from her most precious person. In a sense, she was handing him her heart.

If you've got a house, you may complain every once in a while about the constant upkeep. It seems like as soon as you get one thing cared for, something else needs attention, the windows, the roof, the yard, the plumbing, the paint. Well, be glad you're not in charge of the maintenance of the Golden Gate Bridge. Not long ago I was standing by San Francisco Bay, admiring the impressive beauty of that great bridge, when someone told me what it takes to keep it impressive. Like 35 painters! Every day! That's all they do! The trucks roll out early every morning with another load of that distinctive orange paint and for eight hours a day those 35 painters are somewhere on that bridge, keeping it in good shape. Things deteriorate so fast, it takes constant effort to maintain the beauty.

Our receptionist Carol has nice flowers in her office. Well, they're sort of flowers. It looks like a beautiful bouquet. And the other day when I walked into her office, I sniffed and said, "What's that smell, Carol? Is that flowers?" It was so nice to be greeted with this wonderful, spring-like aroma. She didn't answer me. She just reached into the top drawer in her desk and pulled out this air spray. "I sprayed it on the flowers," she told me. By now you know the truth about Carol's lovely flowers. Tthey look like they're alive, they smell like they're alive, but they're not alive!

I don't know if you've ever driven across the United States, but it's something you want to think twice about, it is a long haul. Now how about riding a bicycle across the United States? That's what my friend Scott did when he was a college student with a group called Wandering Wheels. That's a lot of wandering! Scott said he was excited about the idea until the day the leaders displayed a map of the whole country on the side of their chuck wagon. It looked, in a word, impossible. But they started on this Mission Impossible anyway. Each day, they'd get up and just start riding again. "So he took it a day at a time, then?" No. Scott said when the riding really got tough and his legs were just about to go on strike, he would just aim for that next telephone pole. And pretty soon, he said, that huge map got conquered, one telephone pole at a time!

Kasey pretty much blew high school. He's one of our ministry team and he's a walking miracle. The pain of his childhood set him up to make some lousy choices, like drugs for example. He quit high school and was headed for a wasted life or an early death until he met Jesus at the age of 19. He left all the junk of his past behind him and started a passionate study of God's Word, like memorizing some hundreds of verses! Kasey wanted to get a college training, but he knew that meant taking the G.E.D. test, to get a Graduation Equivalency Diploma. He had pretty much he failed math, he failed English and all the subjects he was about to be tested on. They were timed tests - something like 25-50 minutes. But at the beginning of each test, he bowed his head and prayed for about ten minutes. The teacher administering the test walked up to him and said, "Excuse me, but I think you're going to need all the time. It's challenging to get it done with all the minutes you've got. You've got no time to pray." Kasey's answer? "There's no hope if I don't."

It's pretty funny the lengths some advertisers will go to convince you that you should buy their product, like those Samsonite commercials. Remember, the suitcase in the gorilla cage, taking every form of abuse a gorilla could give it? And then there was the one where they threw it out of a plane and it survived. But the pioneers of this kind of "hammer it to prove it" advertising were the makers of Timex watches. Their motto was hard to forget - "Takes a lickin', keeps on tickin'." I don't remember all the ways they beat up on their watches, but it seems to me they attached one to a ski boat, one to the underside of a truck that was bouncing along a bumpy road. They gave it all kinds of hammering that proved the quality of their product.

The Garden of the Gods in Colorado is one of the most beautiful spots in America. And God has allowed the Navigators ministry to have their headquarters right there. My first time there was for a national committee meeting, where they worked us very hard. But finally someone suggested a hike to the waterfall. They told me this was some of the most spectacular scenery around these parts. Little did I suspect this was also an initiation for us rookies on the committee. Our walk started out on a nice path that ran next to this roaring mountain stream, and it was really roaring from the recent snowmelt in the mountains. Finally, we walked to this dead-end where there was only a rock wall in front of us. I said, "Where's the waterfall?" "Over there," they said, pointing across the stream. I asked the obvious question, "How do you get to it?' They pointed to this narrow pipe that spanned the stream and they said, "You cross the pipeline." I told them, "You cross the pipeline!" They were expecting me to balance myself on this little pipe and walk across? But that was the only way to get to the incredible beauty on the other side!

I'm a tornado and hurricane kind of guy. I mean I don't like them but, I've lived where you learn about those things. I'm not an earthquake kind of guy, I've never lived where those mattered much. But when I was in San Francisco recently, I was where earthquakes are a big deal! Most people there still have dramatic stories to tell about what happened during that big quake in 1989, the one that interrupted the third game of the World Series. Some of the heaviest damage and injury was in the Marina District of San Francisco. We went there to tape part of a radio program, in fact, we were right on the corner of Beach Street and Divisadero where several buildings collapsed or burned, including one that had been totally consumed by fire. One of the neighbors described the scene for us, one very different from this quiet neighborhood with beautiful rebuilt homes. The night of the quake it was total chaos. This neighbor described that awful fire with the unbearable heat that had destroyed the building on the other corner. He said, "The fire started out with a gas leak - it was very small. If I could have gotten over there, I literally could have put it out with a bucket of water. But then it started to spread and pretty soon there was no way to stop it."

So much of the furniture and equipment in our office is a God-story. He has miraculously provided so many things through His people - things we could never have been able to buy. One of those things is our telephone system. A Christian brother was upgrading the system at his company - and donated his old system to us. And that old system is great for us! Now our phones have this battery of buttons on them - most of which we have just been looking at or ignoring. We have had no idea what they do. Our Team has been so busy that no one has really had the time to read the manual! Finally, we assigned that research to Jeff - and the other day, he reported back to our Team. He showed us all kinds of sophisticated tricks our phones could do - and here we've been settling for just using a phone line and the "hold" button. These phones are amazing. They've been amazing all along. We've been slumming it - when we could have been going in style!

Sometimes I'll say kiddingly, "I've figured out what my thorn in the flesh is. My metabolism." It's true. It just doesn't turn calories into energy fast enough. Translation: I get fat easily. Years ago, my not-very-tall body weighed in at 210 - I've been about 40 or 50 pounds less than that for a long time now. And I want to stay that way. But I still have the same metabolism that got me to 210 - and the bakery, candy store, ice cream place look just as tempting - but I have to remember how hard it was to get that weight off! It's worth saying no to some temptations to avoid the struggle of getting back in shape!

            

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Ron Hutchcraft Ministries
P.O. Box 400
Harrison, AR 72602-0400

(870) 741-3300
(877) 741-1200 (toll-free)
(870) 741-3400 (fax)

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