I was around a lot of construction people when we were building our Ministry Headquarters, and there's nothing that means more to a tradesman than his tools. The good old hammer is your basic, fundamental tool. And the capabilities of a hammer literally run the gamut. I've seen men make things with a hammer. But, then again, I've seen men break things with a hammer, too!
Our son had the privilege of playing on a state championship football team in high school. And that's a really big deal! They were the toast of the school, heroes of the town, for a while, until next year. Some of those heroes came back from college to visit the old alma mater, and you know what? They just weren't a big deal anymore. Some new guys were the ones wearing the jerseys now and getting all the attention. Sorry, guys! Last year's glory - yesterday's news. What do you bet those guys will still be looking for someone to tell about the big game when they're 70 years old?
Our son brought a playful little Shih Tzu puppy into our house. She loved to play with bubbles. Yeah, she would chase those bubbles that we would blow on the floor, and it was crazy to watch. And she also loved bottles. You know, the plastic bottles? She would enjoy a good battle with any two-liter plastic soda pop bottle, and we'd throw it on the floor. She'd attack that thing! You could hear it all through the house! Here's this plastic bottle being thrown into the air, she forces it up against the wall, it thuds along the floor, (Oh, it was great when you're trying to sleep, let me tell you.). Finally she would fight that thing until she was just totally exhausted. And then you'd hear nothing. You'd go in and she was totally flopped on the kitchen floor. There she was, flat out, almost out cold it looked like. She had literally worked herself totally out of energy in combat with a dumb, plastic bottle.
My wife, like many women, was like "wonder woman" when it came to rescuing clothes that seemed to be ruined by a big stain. Like our sons' high school football uniforms. Okay, our colors were blue and white. I said white. The idea was to have those white pants as dirty as possible at the end of the game, of course, to prove that you played hard. But the idea also was to have those pants really white at the beginning of the next game. So, home they came with these pants that seemed terminally stained with dirt and mud and grass stains. Now the only way my very intelligent wife would let them play football was if they agreed to wash their own uniforms. Right, smart lady. But she showed them how to get those stains out with her magic combination of regular detergent and dishwasher detergent. No matter how dirty those things had been, somehow they came out clean. And yes, those stains were all gone.
There's nothing I appreciate more than a good night's sleep, because sleep is something I don't get a lot of. Deprivation creates value, you know. Frankly, if the bed is decent, I don't care too much about the surroundings. A night's sleep is a night's sleep and the whole time I'm asleep I don't know where I am anyway, right? So that's my philosophy of sleep. Aren't you impressed? Now, apparently, some nights' sleep are a big deal to some people, especially if it means sleeping in the historic Lincoln bedroom in the White House. You know, over the years, there's been a lot of discussion about major contributions to Presidential campaigns and those who have given a lot, being given the privilege to spend the night at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue; or as one senator called it, Motel 1600. I guess if any place to sleep is special, being in the White House, just down the hall from the President and the First Lady, that would be it. People come away from that experience, even rich and powerful people who have seen and done it all, really impressed by being in that historic, powerful place for just a night. I've never stayed at the White House, but wait until you hear where I just came from!
I've had the chance to meet some fascinating people with our Native American outreaches when I go out with our On Eagles' Wings Teams. One of those would have to be Chad. He was raised to actually be the last traditional chief in his tribe and a spiritual shaman. Like many Native Americans over the years, he was sent to a religious boarding school, and in Christ's name he was forced to dress, look and speak like a white man, and punished if he accidentally spoke a word of his own language. The anger that built up in him made him a most unlikely candidate to ever give his heart to the one that he was sure was "the white man's God." Chad actually said he wanted to die, so he went to Vietnam, hoping someone would kill him. He became one of the few good that were good enough to be called a Navy Seal and then he went through the horrors of being a prisoner of war. What a story! When he returned from the war, he became a gang leader in a major city with some 10,000 people in his organization. Stabbed twice, shot three times, and one night he found himself on an operating table with surgeons fighting very long odds to save his life.
Bob was one senior who was a tremendous blessing to our ministry. He'd been the kind of volunteer who had been there for every kind of project you could imagine. His whole life-it seems like he's been a warrior for the Lord. But then, he had some illnesses and an accident that slowed him down-even to the point of walking with a cane and honestly looking a little more stooped than usual. We asked him if he could help oversee this important remodeling project at our Headquarters. Before we could finish the tour of the area that needed work, Bob was spouting out ideas about how it could be done. Later I actually saw Bob in the hallway-walking tall, walking fast, without his cane, like a man half his age!
It was a simple order, "Get dressed." When Mom said it, our five-year-old grandson did what she asked. Moments later, he emerged from his room dressed for the day. That's good. It wasn't until he was undressing that night that Mom noticed a slight anomaly in how he had gotten dressed. He had two pairs of underwear on! When Mom asked him about it, he answered with a bemused look on his face: "Oh, I just put clean underwear on over the dirty underwear." Not good.
"Our planes were in the air." That's what the Air Force briefing officer told us as we had the privilege of touring a major American defense command facility. He was talking about a day during the Cold War when, unbeknownst to most Americans, World War III could have almost begun. America's warning systems had indicated clearly that Russian planes were in the air and headed for the United States. In those days when nuclear war was our greatest fear and a real possibility, the orders were given to get our planes in the air. Those planes were headed for the Soviet Union with the capability of starting a nuclear war. Why hadn't you heard about it? Thankfully, the trackers discovered in time that what was sent out was an erroneous message about the Russian planes. You know why? Because of one defective computer chip. That's a close call!
We were on a business trip when my friend Rich found a site that advertised caverns and an Indian artifact museum. An Indian man, with his coal black hair pulled back and a face my friend described as "well-weathered," offered to take Rich on the museum tour which he thought would last about 15 minutes. Nearly two hours later, he had received an incredible history lesson on the Shawnee Nation. The guide said the Shawnee Nation is made up of many different Indian tribes and the Shawnees have "adopted" these people into their nation. And several times he pointed out that once the tribe allows this to happen, the adopted people or person can never speak of their former tribe or nation again!