I had just returned from an exciting, but exhausting, ministry trip. I was, as I think the British say, "cabbaged." Well, that kind of described me. Two of our staff picked up my remains at the airport, and I settled deep into the passenger side of the front seat. As we were approaching my home, one of my co-workers said, "I can tell you're really tired." I asked how. The answer was, "You didn't ask to drive." Now that's amazing. I guess I always want to drive, and this time the thought hadn't even occurred to me! I'm not even sure I had any thoughts.
The news accounts from Florida said the man was in his 70s, and that he went for a walk the night before. Now the reason his walk made the news was because he was sleeping during this walk and because of where he ended up. Apparently, he got up out of bed, grabbed his cane, went outside, and started walking - all without ever waking up... until he walked right into a lake. Oh, not just a lake; no, a lake filled with alligators. And those alligators went right to him, welcomed him. Yeah! Thankfully, he was somehow able to beat them off with his cane and crawl to safety. But you talk about a rude awakening! Can you imagine waking up in the water, looking into alligator jaws?
Ten suitcases and two trunks. Yep, that's what our daughter took to college with her that first year. Using some of my frequent flyer free tickets, we all flew to Chicago to take her to college. And her two brothers - oh, they were just thrilled to help move their sister's whole life. But something very strange happened when we landed at Chicago's O'Hare Airport. They closed the airport. Record-breaking rain had flooded the airport approaches so no one could come or go, including flight crews and people picking up passengers. And as we joined thousands of other passengers trying to find some food, a phone, a room, we had a distinct disadvantage. Mount Luggage! Yeah, it was very hard to go anywhere with all that baggage!
Somewhere back in the deep storage of your brain file, you probably remember him from World History class: the emperor Charlemagne. Actually, Charlemagne was the most powerful European ruler of the Middle Ages, leading a people he called the Franks to rule most of Europe. Under his rule, many people got baptized into the Church. It was pretty much expected of his soldiers, for example. In fact, they would go down to the river en masse and take the plunge. But one source reports that there was one thing that was a bit unusual about the baptism of those soldiers. When they would go under the water, they would hold one hand out of the water with their sword in that hand. They didn't want that hand baptized. That was the one they wanted to be free to use to kill whoever they needed to kill.
One of the most amazing Christian warriors in my lifetime was a man who came to be known as Brother Andrew, or 'God's Smuggler'. He risked everything to get God's Word into spiritually closed countries where that was virtually impossible. Many have considered him a spiritual hero. No one could doubt that he was, at the very least, a bold risk-taker for Christ.
In his biography, he tells about an incident in his early life as a follower of Christ that showed him the kind of God he was serving. After some pretty wild years without the Lord, he came to Christ and almost immediately felt the call to begin training for ministry. He went to this small Bible school in Scotland, and before the students were allowed to graduate, they were given a very unusual assignment. They were asked to go out for a month to do evangelistic outreaches in Scottish villages, and they were given some money to live on - one British pound, to be exact. For those of us who are Americans, it would be like being given a dollar to live on for a month. The students were to go with that one bill and eat, and sleep, and rent halls, and buy refreshments, and hold outreaches, and return that one bill at the end of the month. Brother Andrew's team went out and they did just that. Except he returned with enough money for the school to send out two missionaries!
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!