Thursday, August 23, 2001

First, the verdict came in - guilty. Then the sentence - death. And the last-minute appeals for a delay - denied. And finally the irrevocable outcome - Timothy McVeigh had to die for his crimes. The carnage and the tragedy of that bombing of a Federal building in Oklahoma City has left an indelible mark on our entire generation.

The death penalty, I mean even for a mass killer like Tim McVeigh, is a controversial issue. For some it's an important political issue; for others it's an important justice or humanitarian issue. But few of us have ever thought of the death penalty as an intensely personal issue. It is. For every one of us.

Thursday, August 16, 2001

Dr. Henry was one of the most challenging professors I had in college. And I anticipated the final exam in his class was going to be a monumental challenge. Who knows what questions Dr. Henry could throw at us from his incredible intellect! Well, word began to leak out about his final from the first students who took it. They didn't give any details--they just shared one surprising, tantalizing fact. They said, "There's only one question on the exam!" Well, most of us took that news as encouragement as we stood on the edge of academic survival. But when Dr. Henry set the exam in front of us, we weren't quite as encouraged. This entire semester of theology class had been devoted to what the Bible says about the person and work of the Holy Spirit. The professor's question? "Describe the Person and work of the Holy Spirit." Oh boy! Only one question. But what a question!

Wednesday, August 15, 2001

I think I've lost the same five pounds about 200 times--which would be just about enough to make six of me. Actually, I used to weigh almost 50 pounds more, and I lost it a long time ago. But, as you know if you have ever lost a chunk of yourself, the challenge is to keep it off. So I set 165 as my ceiling weight and then 160 as kind of my anchor weight. As my weight starts creeping toward 165 again--which it inevitably will, believe me, I have to reverse all engines immediately. I mean, it's just too hard to fight 20-25 extra pounds. I'd rather fight with five pounds any time...while it's still a more winable battle.

Tuesday, August 14, 2001

If you've ever given a child a helium balloon, you know you had better tie it to something--or soon you're going to have one balloon-less, heartbroken kid. That crazy balloon will just float away and slowly disappear, and all the while that crying child will be pointing at the sky and expecting you to somehow get up there and retrieve it. Now when you go from a helium balloon to a hot-air balloon--the kind that carry people--you don't want that balloon to just go drifting off somewhere. That's why they put those sandbags on hot air balloons--it called ballast. That extra weight holds a balloon down, it helps control the balloon, and, most important, it keeps it from drifting off. Balloons need ballast. So do people.

Wednesday, August 8, 2001

If you grew up on a farm, there's probably a dog in your memories. For my farm girl, my wife, that dog was a Collie cattle dog named King. King was great at rounding up her Dad's cattle. All Dad would have to do was to whistle that certain whistle, and King would start circling and circling those cattle until he herded them in. But there was a problem. One day a chicken got out, and King killed that chicken - which gave that valuable dog the taste of blood. They tell me if you can't cure that in a dog, you can't afford to keep it. The dog either has to be killed or disciplined so he'll never forget. So Dad took that dead chicken and tied its legs around King's neck with some twine. Needless to say, the dog tried everything to shake that dead chicken, but as the day wore on, the bird he killed did not improve with age. By the end of the day, King's head and tail were hanging low. It's a painful way to learn the seriousness of what he had done...but not nearly as painful as the alternative.

Thursday, August 2, 2001

The lady next to me on a recent airplane flight made me feel good about how far I had to travel that day. I only had to cross the country - she was doing that, too, but she had just connected from Europe to America. But she was still excited enough about her trip to Europe that she was happy to talk about what she had seen there. Frankly, I can only remember one thing she told me about - it was something I'd never heard about before. She had visited some of Europe's most majestic cathedrals. And she had learned that underneath the cross atop these cathedrals, the architects and builders had built in a gold ball. In that ball was a copy of the plans for the cathedral - safely hidden away in case something ever happened to that magnificent structure...so folks would know how to rebuild it.

It has always been challenging to take our "On Eagle's Wings" team of young Native American believers to do reservation outreach. But going to Alaska to do it has meant a really challenging challenge! With a suicide rate 20 times greater than that of the rest of the young people in America, the young Native Alaskans are a desperate mission field. You can probably imagine that the logistics of this kind of outreach are pretty exciting - especially when some of the villages you're in are 400 miles from the nearest road! The entire team has to be transported by missionary planes and fishing boats! Since the planes are just single or twin-engine aircraft, you can choose between taking less people with more luggage or more people with less luggage. Since we need every seat filled with a team member, the sacrifice is going to be in how much baggage each of us takes. The limit is 20 pounds per person - for five weeks! It's hard to travel that light, but it's important. When you carry just the basic essentials, you can move more people and go a lot farther!

When my friend Floyd was a little boy, he was taken to church with his family more Sundays than he could ever count. But for some reason, one of those experiences stands out specially in his mind.. That Sunday, as every Sunday, the six members of the family were stuffed into the cab of the family truck for the trip to church. As they went into the church that day, my friend's father gave him a nickel and a penny to put in the offering - which he vividly remembers doing. He even remembers that he put it in a little brown envelope.

If you've ever checked your suitcase when you're about to take a trip by airplane, you know what they do with our luggage. No, not lose it. Not usually. The ticket agent determines what your final destination will be, he prints out an adhesive sticker with that destination on it, and he puts it around your suitcase handle. And then you settle back in your seat, knowing that bag will meet you at the other end of the trip. With the millions of bags the airlines handle daily, it's amazing that most go straight to the right destination. Now there are some exceptions. Like the one I checked in Idaho about two weeks ago. Oh, I checked it through to my final destination - Newark, New Jersey. It's still floating somewhere out there in the Baggage Twilight Zone. Well, like I said, most of the time they get it to your final destination.

It's the word you hope you'll never hear when you're in your doctor's office - cancer. But recently there's been a beautiful four-letter word that may go with that ugly word. It's the word "cure." The possible breakthroughs have to do with one of the greatest killers of women - breast cancer. But the discoveries may turn out to open up ways to cure other cancers, too. This entirely new approach to fighting cancer - one that has shown promising results in lengthening the lives of terminally ill cancer patients - has been described as "attacking cancer at its genetic roots." The gene is called HER2, and it produces this protein on the surface of cells that ultimately helps accelerate that abnormal growth that becomes cancer. Scientists have now developed a treatment that attacks this genetic malfunction that causes some cancers. One researcher offers hope to millions who have cancer or who may develop cancer when he says, "If we understand what is broken in the malignant cell, we may be able to fix it." They're calling this one of the hottest areas of cancer research. And it makes sense - stop the cancer by stopping its genetic root.

            

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

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