Thursday, November 15, 2018

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A lot of news stories just flash into our lives and and we forget them almost immediately. Then there are those images that are like embedded in our brains for years to come. For me, one of those was an image that took place of a little toddler named Jessica, who had been playing in her backyard in Midland, Texas, and suddenly she plummeted down this narrow little shaft. Depending on how old you are, you may or may not remember this. But she was wedged in there; trapped underground. It seemed as if the whole nation literally stopped to watch this tense vigil as rescuers tried to find a way to save that little girl. It was a long ordeal, but one rescuer, who used a parallel shaft, working in the tightest of quarters, was finally able to get to little Jessica. And I can still remember seeing it on TV live. In a moment of incredible relief and joy, he brought her out.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

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I was in the room when my friend Bob went up to the speaker for the day and made a fairly startling statement. He took his three young children with him, pointed to them, and said to this speaker, “If it weren’t for you, these children wouldn’t be here.” Needless to say, the gentleman looked at him curiously. But that was not an overstatement.  And it attested to a dramatic miracle that my friend had experienced.

Friday, November 9, 2018

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When we were involved in building a new headquarters for our ministry, I have to confess that was new ground for me. I've been involved in building people my whole life, but not buildings. It became very clear that there is a specific order in which you have to do things. Obviously, you don't just start by having the carpenters show up and start putting up the building. No, there has to be a foundation laid first. But whoa, wait-you can't lay the foundation or start building until you have the detailed plans for the building. Yes, it takes contractors, carpenters, electricians, plumbers, pavers, and heating and air conditioning people. But first, the architect! Without his design, it's going to just be mass confusion at the construction site. But thankfully, God gave us a gifted architect who could lay out a detailed plan. And you know what? Things worked really well because everyone was going by the plan.

Monday, November 5, 2018

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Our son was supposed to be flying into our local airport, but well, shall we say the unpredictabilities of airplane travel today forced him to land in another city. Which meant renting a car to drive the four hours home and then returning the rental car to the airport where I have never returned a rental car. He drove the rental car as I led the way in our family car. (You following all this? I'm not sure I am.) Well, we managed to find the ramp that pointed to "rental car returns." I looked at the companies listed on the signs only to discover that the one our son had rented from wasn't listed! We pulled over, rolled down our windows, and said, "What now?" Suddenly he said, "Whoa! Let's follow him!" At just that moment, the van from our rental company went by! So, we took off behind him. It's a good thing we did. The roads and ramps took us on this merry chase all around the airport and beyond the airport. We could have never figured out how to get there! We literally had to follow someone who has been there!

Monday, October 29, 2018

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It happened decades ago, but it's one of those events I'll never really forget. It happened in Chicago where I grew up. It was the most devastating tragedy most of us would remember from that time. It was December 1, 1958, and a fire broke out at the foot of a stairway in the Our Lady of the Angels School. That fire raged out of control very quickly; it cut off all normal escape routes. Ninety grade school children died in that fire. But there's one I remember vividly from a news account that I read at the time and I still have not forgotten it. This little boy was in a second story window-they actually had a photo of him. The boy's father was down below, yelling to him to jump into his arms. That boy could see the fire racing toward him from behind, but he refused to jump. Then, one awful moment, the boy disappeared from the window. He was one of those victims.

Friday, October 26, 2018

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I grew up on the south side of Chicago, and honestly we did not have a lot of sheep running around. So I listened with fascination when I heard my father-in-law tell about being the shepherd for his family's flock of sheep. He was just a boy, he was the only child, and Mom and Dad left the sheep pretty much with him, and he was with them a lot. One day he and his parents were watching the flock and he said, "Would you like me to call one of them out?" Right, kid. Like one sheep is going to know it's him you want? So Mom and Dad kind of laughed. The little shepherd asked them to pick a sheep they wanted called out, and then he made a little bleating sound and the selected sheep proceeded to leave the flock and come right to him. Mom and Dad were still skeptical. So he said, "OK, pick another sheep." And they did. Another bleat, and Mr. Sheep answered the call. And no one else could get that kind of response. That little exercise was repeated several times, until there was no denying the amazing fact: those sheep had such a personal relationship with their shepherd that his was the only voice they followed.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

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"They were our pilots. It was our aircraft. The aircraft should not have been on that runway." That's what an executive of Singapore Airlines told reporters after their Los Angeles-bound jumbo jet crashed on takeoff from Taipei, Taiwan. It snapped into three pieces and it burst into flames. Eighty-one of the 179 passengers aboard died in that crash. It was a crash that never should have happened. The pilot somehow ended up on a runway full of construction equipment. The resulting collision was obviously deadly. The pilot had warnings; preflight briefing papers and two big signs indicating the number of the runway he mistakenly went down, but it didn't matter. He was on the wrong runway.

Friday, October 19, 2018

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So I heard this comedy routine that suggested some humorous ways to finish this sentence: "You're having a bad day when..." Well, I heard on the news about a man who might be a finalist for the "baddest day of the year" award, and there's nothing humorous about what happened to him. There was years ago an Avianca Airlines plane that crashed on Long Island. It was a flight from Colombia to New York. This particular Colombian man was seriously injured in the crash. Well, that's a bad day; I mean that's a really bad day. They rushed him to the hospital where it was determined that they'd have to do abdominal surgery. And when the surgeons opened him up, they found little plastic bags in his stomach full of cocaine. He was a drug courier, and he had ingested those little bags of cocaine to smuggle them into the country. So after he crashed and then was operated on, he was arrested. Now who would have ever thought he would be found out? He was.

Monday, October 15, 2018

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Our friend is in the flooring business; actually that's wood flooring. He had been tearing the old floor out in this house he was working on, and before he threw it away, he decided to call us and see if we might have any use for it. (That was nice.) Actually, we were pretty excited about his call because we were in the middle of a project where we'd be needing a floor. He said, "I do want you to know it's actually pretty ugly, but it's a good solid maple wood."
Now we got piles and bucketfuls of that wood and our friend was right. It really was pretty ugly. Those old floor boards had several coats of paint on them, they were really dirty, some were gouged out, kind of beat up. Frankly, it looked like it might only be good for firewood. But our friend pointed out that that wood was an inch thick-and he assured us he could sand off all the damage and still have plenty of wood left. And you know what? Eventually I was holding in my hand a sample of what he could do. It was a piece of that old ugly wood that he has restored-and there was no trace of the damage-it was this smooth, beautifully stained piece of wood. The restoration was amazing and I was, you might say, floored!

Thursday, October 11, 2018

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Smoking is bad for humans and for mountains. When a mountain is smoking, it usually means it's about to blow its top, as in volcano erupting. One of the most dramatic American eruptions in our lifetime, of course, was the one on Mount Saint Helen's in Washington State. It devastated and really recreated the landscape for many square miles. It literally blew a major portion of the mountain away. Not that you could exactly call it a surprise. For two or three months in advance, the mountain kept sending out smoke and eventually a big lava dome began to form at the top. Everybody knew it was going to blow, including a colorful old lodge owner with the colorful name, Harry Truman. But when everyone evacuated the area, Harry refused. He stayed right there on Mount Saint Helen's, no matter how many times he was warned about what would happen. When the smoke finally cleared from that volcano's massive eruption, there was no trace that would ever suggest that lodge or that man had ever been there. The tragedy of something like that is really obvious; someone died who didn't have to die.

            

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