When I look out my window I can see everything clearly. But if I need to read these notes right in front of me, I have to put my glasses on. When I'm driving down the road later today, I won't need my glasses. I've got no problem seeing the road ahead, the cars around me, that road kill I want to avoid. But if I need to pull over and look at my map, forget it – I'd better have my glasses or I'll never find that small town I'm looking for. I am, as they say, farsighted.
When our son entered high school, he carried with him the study habits that had served him well in junior high. They didn't serve him well in high school. He learned a whole lot about studying his freshman year. His grades weren't awful-they were just, you know, like below his potential. So the last part of the year, we resorted to, uh, martial law. We enforced three hours of study nightly and we allowed no calls...no going out until his homework was done. Now, turn the page to his second year in high school. I'd go into my study at night and I'd find him with these books and notebooks all spread out across my desk. Sometimes I'd tell him there was a phone call for him. And he'd answer, "Tell them I'll call them back later. I'm not getting on the phone, Dad. Not his year; not till my homework's done." I didn't have to discipline my son. He was disciplining himself.
When my wife and I inherited her grandparents' old farmstead in the country, we knew it was going to take some work. We were just grateful that we had a place to kind of get away, you know, and get some "r and r". We had several workmen there, racing a deadline to get some building and remodeling done before we had a lot of company. Well, on Thursday, they brought in some of the specialized tools they would need to finish the job on Friday. We went to bed Thursday night looking forward to having everything finished the next day. Now I don't usually wake up in the middle of the night, but this particular night I did. As I looked at our glow-in-the-dark digital clock, I noticed its' red numbers were flashing the same time at me, over and over again. This is not a good sign. Power outage! I almost went right back to sleep, figuring the power would come back on sooner or later. And then it hit me. Those workmen are going to be here shortly after sunrise, and they're not getting anything done without those special tools. And those tools won't work without power. Believe me, we didn't get back to sleep. We got right on the phone to the power company! Actually, hey, I did my part. I identified the problem. I asked my wife to get up and make the call. What a guy!
Ahhh, Nantucket! My wife and I had some wonderful, romantic times on that picturesque little island 30 miles off the coast of Cape Cod in Massachusetts. The little village of Nantucket is just full of colonial charm. And everywhere you look you find reminders of its glory days in the whaling industry. I was surprised to learn, though, that during those glory days most of the town actually burned to the ground, right to the docks. It was a tragedy that nearly put Nantucket out of business. But it was a tragedy that never had to happen. It was an ugly, four-letter word that ultimately destroyed Nantucket, and the word wasn't fire. It's a word that's still destroying things.
Skunks are kind of cute; you just don't want to get near them. Humans seem to understand that pretty well. Apparently, some dogs just don't get it. Like the one a pastor friend of mine told me about. The dog belongs to a man in his congregation. Somehow his canine companion got into a tangle with one of those striped kitties. Needless to say, the dog reeked! His owner did his best to bathe him thoroughly. But the smell was still so strong that, before it was over, literally the poor man got so sick in the night he had to go to the hospital!
During holiday seasons in America, and especially Thanksgiving, you can actually call the Butterball Turkey Hot Line. And, yes, you can get an answer to whatever turkey questions you may have. A famous news commentator said that they had monitored that hotline last Thanksgiving; and one lady called and she said, "I've had this turkey in my freezer for 23 years. Can I still use it?" Okay, this is a true story! The man on the hotline said, "Well, if your freezer has been set on zero degrees the whole time and it hasn't been defrosted, then the turkey is probably okay. Maybe the taste isn't though." Well, the lady decided she wouldn't use the turkey after all. She said, "I know, I'll give it to the church."
It was one of those real short nights. I had just spoken for a large youth event, and the night went late for the best of reasons: God brought hundreds of young people to faith in Christ that night. The counseling of all those kids took a blessedly long time. Now Jason, who was one of the organizers, took me to my hotel that night and he told me he would be picking me up in a few hours for my very early morning flight. I said, "I'm sorry you have to get me so early when you've been up so late." He said, "Oh, don't worry. I'll just roll out of bed, throw on a baseball cap, and come on over." (Which, by the way, I think is the major reason there are baseball caps.) Well, bless his heart, that's just what he did. When we got to the airport, I asked him if we could pray together before I went on my plane. He respectfully took off his baseball cap, and we had a neat time of prayer. When I opened my eyes at the end, he still had his cap off. And a very creative hair style - I mean, it was all over the place! He even laughed about it. The cap covered what he didn't want anyone to see-except when he was praying.
It sounded like strange justice. I heard about a judge who sentenced a juvenile offender to, among other things, go watch a movie. The movie was called, "Saving Private Ryan" - a movie that critics say portrayed with savage realism the D-Day Invasion and the awful brutality of war. I guess the judge wanted that juvenile offender to see what his freedom cost the people who fought for it.
The movie also introduced a new generation to that amazing invasion that was the turning point of World War II. The mission: retake Europe from the grip of Adolf Hitler. Now how did they capture something as big as Europe? By just dropping paratroopers in the middle and saying, "We are taking Europe!"? No-o-o-o. That's what D-Day was all about-tens of thousands of Allied soldiers putting everything they had into capturing a little beach on the coast of France. That's a long way from Berlin, but it's what the military calls a beachhead...a small piece of ground that you get under control. Then you move from that to another small victory and another beachhead. So the heroes of D-Day moved from that beach to take a farm, and then a bridge, and then a village and then another village. And one day they marched into Berlin. They had conquered all that ground, not in one blazing victory, but one beachhead at a time.
Alexander the Great conquered most of the then-known world by the age of 33. One of the reasons for that was the iron discipline he insisted on among his troops. That's why a young soldier was so terrified as he was hauled into Alexander's tent to answer for charges of cowardice and desertion in battle. The general was seated at a table, and the accused soldier stood before him. Alexander said, "Soldier, you've been accused of deserting during battle – guilty or not?" "Guilty," he replied almost inaudibly. The general followed up by asking, "What's your name, soldier?" The answer came, "Uh, my name is Alexander, sir." It was at that point that Alexander the Great leaped to his feet, reached across the table, grabbed the soldier by the collar and shouted, "Either you change your life or you change your name!"
It had been a long time since Karen and I did the baby thing, but then our kids started having kids. And our first grandchild came. Our wonderful grandson, and I forgot how those little guys could eat! I assure you there was nothing wrong with this boy's appetite. You could tell the first couple of days on earth. He'd start crying to make his announcement that it was time to eat, and he wouldn't stop crying until he had his fill. Of course, I'm like that sometimes. And then that second day, he had just eaten, and right away here he is again announcing he still needed to eat some more. We were able to distract him briefly. You know, we could play or sing or change positions, but only briefly. Nope! Pretty soon he was at it again – until he got fed some more.