Monday, October 17, 2005

Two roller coasters. Only one seemed like a real option to me. I should point out that I don't do roller coasters much. "Because you're chicken," you say. No, because I'm too short. I just don't measure up to that little height chart they have at the entrance to the coaster. I have a friend who declines roller coaster invitations by saying, "I can't. I have an inner ear problem." I like that. I might use that. For whatever reason, my rides on roller coasters are few and far between. But at this particular amusement park I visited a few years ago, they had two roller coasters side by side and two lines to get the to them. Over one line was a sign that said, "Forward." Over the other line, a sign that said - you guessed it - "Backward." You can ride looking forward or looking backward. Like this is a choice?

Friday, September 30, 2005

Our plane was racing down the runway, preparing to take off from Nashville. I was so exhausted, I was already drifting off into la-la land. Then came those jolts as the front wheels left the ground. The team member who was with me said, "Have you ever felt anything like that before?" I said, "No." And I dozed off. I wouldn't sleep for long; the flight attendant suddenly was announcing that we had blown a rear tire on takeoff and we were heading back to Nashville. For the next 45 minutes or so, we were circling the area, burning up as much fuel as possible for what could be a crash landing. I called my wife from the plane. I asked her to get people praying. My team member joined me in committing this whole situation to the Lord. The flight attendants went into emergency mode to begin to prepare us for the landing. They demonstrated how to brace for the landing. They had us pull out our emergency instruction card from the pocket in front of us - something they had asked us to do before we took off - something hardly anyone did. But as the attendant began her briefing she prefaced it with a simple exhortation, "This time I want you to really listen." Believe me, we really did.

Monday, September 26, 2005

How did we know it was a stupid question? Our family was in Alaska some years ago and we asked some of the folks there what seemed like a reasonable question, "Where can we go to see a moose?" The only moose we'll ever see in New Jersey are those guys at the lodge hall. You know? Most folks just laughed at our question. Turns out seeing a moose is really no big deal in Alaska. In fact, some people we talked to had hit one recently! So, they're everywhere. Sure. While I was busy speaking, my wife and kids drove all over the countryside looking for some moose. Nada. Maybe people hit them all! They even went to the Moose Sanctuary and they saw no moose there; frustrating, tired of looking, and pretty sure those moose were only in pictures in the tourist brochures. One morning we walked out of the house where we were staying, we piled in the car, and we started driving down the driveway. Suddenly, one of the kids shouted, "Moose!" And sure enough, there were three members of the antler gang right there at the bottom of our own driveway! What we'd been looking for all that time was right in front of us.

Friday, September 16, 2005

For a long time, I've been fascinated with the story of the Titanic. The sinking of that seemingly "unsinkable" ship after a collision with an iceberg is filled with human drama that has inspired endless movies, books, and documentaries. Finding the Titanic at the bottom of the Atlantic fueled greater interest - and greater information - than ever before. Some of the drama of those discoveries has been within our reach as the Titanic artifacts exhibit has been on display in some of America's leading museums. You can see many personal items recovered from the Titanic's debris field along with displays that recreate the feeling of being a passenger on that doomed ship. When I went in, I was given a boarding pass with the name of a real person who had been aboard that awful night. At the end of the exhibit, there's this big wall with the names of everyone aboard - first class, second class, third class, crew. Every person is either on the list that says "saved" or "lost." I looked hard for my name - and I discovered that I was one of the few crewmen who was "saved."

A pastor I know, who I had told about my experience there, well, he went to see the exhibit for himself. But he told me about it. He looked me in the eye and said very soberly, "Except I was lost."

Monday, September 12, 2005

My wife and I had been on the road for quite a while, and company was coming as soon as we got home. Frankly, with the whirlwind that preceded our departure, there was some unfinished work that we left behind at home. Well, thankfully, a friend came over while we were gone and pitched in. One job my wife had asked her to tackle was to get some stubborn food and melted wax spots out of our nice red tablecloth. Well, one of the first things we noticed when we walked in the door after our trip was that tablecloth spread on our dining room table, looking as good as new - with a handwritten note on it. It simply said: "I'm clean. I've been washed, and all my dirty spots came out." Pretty amazing, huh? A note from a tablecloth. Only at our house.

Friday, September 9, 2005

Years ago I heard a friend tell about a scene from his childhood that he never forgot. My friend was around on that black day in 1929 that marked the beginning of the Great Depression. One of the great traumas of America's financial collapse was that many banks went under almost overnight. My friend remembered seeing a neighbor at the locked gates of his bank - and he was literally pounding his fists bloody on those gates, screaming at the top of his lungs, "Give me my money! Give me my money!" There was no money to give.

Wednesday, September 7, 2005

Man, did our one-year-old granddaughter look happy! It was a milestone day. You know, ever since she started riding in a car with her parents, she has been in the back seat in her infant seat, facing backward - just like the safety folks recommend you should do. Well, her Mom and Dad travel a lot of miles, and she's seen a lot of country after it's gone by. Oh, but not anymore! She crossed that magic threshold - she weighs twenty pounds. By the way, I'm not surprised. I have seen this girl eat. She's definitely her father's daughter. But when you get to twenty pounds, you reach that great milestone - Mom and Dad turn your seat around and you get to see where you're going instead of where you've been.

Friday, September 2, 2005

Allison, her daughter, and two friends were out for a trail ride in a remote area recently. They were to rendezvous later, actually, in the afternoon with other family members at their overnight campsite. When it came time to head back, they were somewhere on the side of a mountain, picking their way through very rocky ground. No matter which way they went, they could not find the main trail that would take them back down the mountain. They could see where they needed to be, but the terrain was too rugged to get down any other way. Hours wore on, dark began to fall, and Allison's two friends finally made an attempt to get to a cabin they could see but not ride to down below. Well after dark, Allison and her daughter finally saw flashlights moving up the mountain. Her friends returned with the man from that cabin - a man who knew this area like the back of his hand. He helped them pick their way to a point where they could actually get right back on the trail. And much to their surprise, while they had been lost, they had been very close to the trail all along!

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Fettuccini Alfredo! It's that great Italian dish that has buttered noodles served in a rich, creamy cheese sauce. Unfortunately, one news magazine in an article on nutrition and our health called it a "heart attack on a plate." That may be a bit of an overstatement, but the fact is that a lot of foods do contribute to the slow shutdown of the valves that happen to carry the blood and oxygen into your heart. I love what one commercial calls it -- blood sludge. Medical people refer to the hardening of the arteries -- the process in which foods that are high in cholesterol and fat start building up hard deposits in your arteries. If this hardening in your heart is allowed to continue long enough, it is not a laughing matter. It really can threaten your life.

Tuesday, August 2, 2005

Recently, I spoke at a church and I followed it up with a question and answer time. The questions ranged from things about our ministry, to questions about reaching lost people, to my family. It was a little of everything. One man in the back asked a question that was even a little amusing. He said, "Where do you get all this energy?" I have been accused of being the Energizer Bunny, but the ironic thing is that I had come into that church totally depleted by a heavy weekend of outreach. I was wishing I could just go to my room and sleep, to tell you the truth. In fact, I even told the pastor that the meeting isn't going to be very long because I was too exhausted. It went for two hours! Physically, I think I must just have deep reservoirs of adrenaline. Adrenaline is our friend at times when we just don't have what it takes physically to meet the demands of the moment. Adrenaline is that amazing substance that you don't have when you don't need it, but that surges into your system at just the moment you do need it. And you are able to do things that if I had asked you earlier you would say you could never do.

            

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Harrison, AR 72602-0400

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