Tuesday, October 9, 2018

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It really wasn't fair. But some friends of mine in youth ministry used to carry out these dreaded Saturday morning raids on teenagers from the local high school. By the way, those raids got those kids to an event that they eventually ended up enjoying, but they didn't enjoy how it started. A few leaders would show up early on Saturday morning at the house of one of their student leaders. When a parent came to the door, they would tell them what church group they were from and asked the parents' permission to "kidnap" their son or daughter to a "come as you are" breakfast they were having with student leaders. Most of the parents actually went along with it with a bit of amusement. The invaders went to the door of that teenager's room and gave them one minute to throw something on before they came in for them. Sixty seconds later, people of the same sex went in to that room and snapped a picture of the Saturday morning self. This was back in the days with those Polaroid cameras before digital. Those pictures were of course posted at the breakfast to the horror of those kids, especially the girls. No makeup, bad hair, real skin, they didn't seem to be too excited about everyone seeing what they really were like.

Friday, October 5, 2018

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There's this unforgettable drive above the Hudson River; in fact, the highway just kind of hangs out on Storm King Mountain. (I love that name.) It's a few miles north of New York City and as you look down on the Hudson River you get this incredible view. Now every time I've been able to catch a glance down there at this view of the Hudson, I've been fascinated with this castle. It sits right in the middle of the river on an island. It's kind of like a Robin Hood type of castle. Well, some years ago my wife and I got to take a cruise along the Hudson River and I could take an extended look at that castle. We went right past it, and our tour guide said, "That's Bannerman Castle." Mr. Bannerman, apparently, was an arms dealer for many, many years, and over many decades there are a lot of very interesting stories about people coming and going for weapons all through the wars and all kinds of things. Then in the 1960's there was a large explosion there on the island. What about the castle? Well, I was surprised to learn the truth about that castle.

Monday, October 1, 2018

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Our three-year-old grandson was turning out to be quite an engineer. He was loving to figure out how things work and to build things that do. When he was at Grandma and Grandad's house, he would play with our Lincoln Logs. One day he had built a couple of cabins in the middle of our living room and we noticed he'd stopped and he was just lying on his tummy with his head cradled in his hands, studying the pictures on the Lincoln Logs container. When his mom asked him what he was doing just staring at that container, he said, "There are some pieces missing here." And he began to point out exactly what pieces were pictured on the can but missing in front of him. 

Friday, September 28, 2018

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I'm a city boy. Where I grew up, kids were about the only things that grew. We didn't even have grass in the backyard of the apartment building where I lived-just dirt. So over the years I've had a lot to learn from the farm girl I married, as well as my many friends who are farmers. I was traveling in the heartland with one of our leaders, and he had spent many years in farming, and he taught me a pretty memorable lesson as we were driving down a country road just past a cornfield. He was explaining how a farmer harvests his corn and how the end row may get knocked down when he turns the corner from one row to another. That leaves some corn stalks knocked down, lying horizontal and broken. And they're often in the shade of a stalk that's still standing near it. But don't count that stalk out. No, not just yet! The pollen from the overshadowing corn stalk filters down onto that broken corn. And amazingly, that plant that has everything going against it starts developing another crop and eventually you'll be able to pick corn off that old boy! (How about a city boy telling you that!)

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

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While I was speaking at a conference, our hosts gave my wife and me a picturesque cabin to stay in, right on the side of this beautiful mountain. I was unusually motivated to get my exercise there, because it involved hiking up this scenic mountain all the way to the top. As I headed back down and neared our cabin, I had this notion that it would be nice to make the last stretch a romantic walk with my honey. There's a song I used to whistle to her outside her dorm window. (This is the place you go "Ahhhh!") Yeah, we were in college and we were engaged-a song we later had sung at our wedding. It starts with the words, "Because you come to me." Lapsing into romance mode, I started whistling our song. Little did I know my wife wasn't there! So no one came. I walked alone. 

Friday, September 21, 2018

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It was centuries ago, when all of North America belonged to its Native people. One nomadic Indian tribe in the Great Plains, according to the story, was blessed with a chief that was beloved and respected by everyone who knew him. He was known as a man who deeply loved his people and he showed it. And he was a man of absolute justice and fairness and he showed that. One day some braves brought a very troubling report to him; there had been several mysterious thefts from people in the tribe. The chief wanted to nip this kind of stealing in the bud so he announced a pretty severe penalty for the thief. He would be tied to a post when the sun was high, his back laid bare, and he would be beaten with a whip twenty times. Then the chief set a trap. He asked two of his trusted braves to leave some animal pelts in front of a teepee one night and to watch all night from another teepee. It was the middle of the night when one of those braves awakened the chief with the news, "We've caught the thief." "Then bring him in," the chief ordered sternly. 

Monday, September 17, 2018

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Our daughter was always a curious little thing, and she asked endless questions, especially when it was time to go to sleep at night. And she liked to look into things that she found, even trying them at times. Most of those little explorations were harmless. Not the day, though, that she got into a drawer in the bathroom and pulled out some stuff she saw Daddy using to get ready in the morning. Deodorant-no problem. Toothbrush, toothpaste-that's okay. My razor-oh, problem. She'd seen her father run that razor up and down his cheeks, so she decided to do what she saw Daddy do. Bad idea! Scratches and cuts on her face. Oh, I'm glad to tell you, no permanent damage, but not something she did twice. 

Thursday, September 13, 2018

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When he was young, our grandson had a rainbow of interests, including drawing. In fact, he came away from a local art show with several awards for art for kids his age. Now that didn't come from his grandfather, I can tell you that. I think the lines are down somewhere between my brain and my hand. Something happened there; there's a malfunction! They make it from my brain to my mouth, but I can't… Well, I can't even draw a recognizable stick figure. Now, our grandson apparently had been watching how cartoonists and some caricaturists draw people. Because he really liked to draw some folks the same way they do-very little bodies and very big heads! 

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

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Beslan-it's a Russian town that joined the ranks of places known for the terror that happened there. Some have called that three-day terrorist takeover of a school in Beslan, and the violent deaths of hundreds of school children and adults there, Russia's equivalent to America's September 11. In the midst of Beslan's horror, there emerged a photo that embodied hope in the middle of death. It showed a girl's bloodied hand clutching a golden cross. Viktoria was hospitalized with shrapnel in her brain, but she was still a survivor. The fourteen-year-old said that she prayed every day while she was being held captive, always clinging to her cross even after being wounded in the violent ending of that awful siege that killed more than 330 hostages. Even as she lost consciousness, she never let go of the cross. In Viktoria's own words, "I felt that if I had that cross in my hand, then everything would be fine." 

Friday, September 7, 2018

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Each generation has its unforgettable events and photographs that sort of sear those events into our memories. So often, those images are tragedies: the falling towers, of course, of September 11, the bombed out Federal Office Building in Oklahoma City. Before either of those, came the images of the sudden explosion of the Challenger shuttle over Cape Canaveral-those horrible trails of smoke against the sky, reminding us of the deaths of all those heroic astronauts aboard. After an extensive investigation, that cataclysmic explosion was traced to a simple O-ring that malfunctioned in cold weather and started a chain of events that doomed the shuttle and its crew. Then came the more recent explosion of the shuttle Columbia; this time apparently traceable to a loose piece of foam that came off during liftoff and ended up causing the loss of everyone aboard. 

            

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