Skunks are kind of cute; you just don't want to get near them. Humans seem to understand that pretty well. Apparently, some dogs just don't get it. Like the one a pastor friend of mine told me about. The dog belongs to a man in his congregation. Somehow his canine companion got into a tangle with one of those striped kitties. Needless to say, the dog reeked! His owner did his best to bathe him thoroughly. But the smell was still so strong that, before it was over, literally the poor man got so sick in the night he had to go to the hospital!
Mike is a follower of Jesus Christ, and he's an executive with a large printing company founded on Christian principles. They had worked for two years to land this contract with a major publisher, and they got it. Mike told me about the day when their new client brought in their first job. It was exciting until he saw what it was about. It was all about horoscopes. Mike looked at his Sales Manager who had worked with him so hard to sign up this big company. Then he slid the manuscript back across the desk and said to his client, "I'm very sorry, but we can't print this. See, we try to run our business by the Bible, and this would go against what the Bible says."
During holiday seasons in America, and especially Thanksgiving, you can actually call the Butterball Turkey Hot Line. And, yes, you can get an answer to whatever turkey questions you may have. A famous news commentator said that they had monitored that hotline last Thanksgiving; and one lady called and she said, "I've had this turkey in my freezer for 23 years. Can I still use it?" Okay, this is a true story! The man on the hotline said, "Well, if your freezer has been set on zero degrees the whole time and it hasn't been defrosted, then the turkey is probably okay. Maybe the taste isn't though." Well, the lady decided she wouldn't use the turkey after all. She said, "I know, I'll give it to the church."
I was speaking at a Christian workers' conference in Alaska, and a veteran missionary approached me afterward with some intriguing information. She and her husband have worked for many years with an Indian tribe in Alaska - a tribe that has an interesting custom. If you're from that tribe, they said you grow up learning about your backpack. It's not a real backpack, but it's a symbol of a very real human experience. The idea is that whenever you do something wrong, a rock goes in your backpack and you carry on your back all the weight of all your mistakes all your life.
I've had days when my back felt about 20 years older than the rest of my body. Ever had that? Sciatica is what I think the doctor called it. I just called it "sorebacka." I'm grateful I haven't had a bout like that for several years, but I can tell you that when I wake up crooked, I feel like just staying in bed or in any comfortable position I can find. But I got some weird advice. Someone said, "Go for a walk when your back is hurting." Now, let me tell you this, walking is the last thing I feel like doing, but I decided to try it. I walked around our lake, and by the time I returned, the pain had basically gone away. I had to force myself to exercise, but it was exercise that actually made me feel better. Now there's a new scientific study that compared two groups of people with "sorebacka" (wait a minute, oh that's sciatica), one that took it easy and one that exercised. The exercisers reported less pain and more mobility. Now, what you don't feel like doing when you're hurting is what will actually help you stop hurting!
It was one of those real short nights. I had just spoken for a large youth event, and the night went late for the best of reasons: God brought hundreds of young people to faith in Christ that night. The counseling of all those kids took a blessedly long time. Now Jason, who was one of the organizers, took me to my hotel that night and he told me he would be picking me up in a few hours for my very early morning flight. I said, "I'm sorry you have to get me so early when you've been up so late." He said, "Oh, don't worry. I'll just roll out of bed, throw on a baseball cap, and come on over." (Which, by the way, I think is the major reason there are baseball caps.) Well, bless his heart, that's just what he did. When we got to the airport, I asked him if we could pray together before I went on my plane. He respectfully took off his baseball cap, and we had a neat time of prayer. When I opened my eyes at the end, he still had his cap off. And a very creative hair style - I mean, it was all over the place! He even laughed about it. The cap covered what he didn't want anyone to see-except when he was praying.
It's a familiar scenario. A man is driving his family on vacation; let's say they're going from Chicago to California. His wife gently points out to him that she just saw a sign saying, "Welcome to Kentucky." OK, Kentucky is definitely not between Chicago and California. Repeatedly, the Mrs. suggests that Mr. stop and ask directions. Then she says that four-letter word, "I think we're lost." Oh, will he stop and ask for directions? No! Maybe it's something in the male chromosome. Like most men, he's too proud to admit he's lost, and he's probably not going to end up where he hoped.
It sounded like strange justice. I heard about a judge who sentenced a juvenile offender to, among other things, go watch a movie. The movie was called, "Saving Private Ryan" - a movie that critics say portrayed with savage realism the D-Day Invasion and the awful brutality of war. I guess the judge wanted that juvenile offender to see what his freedom cost the people who fought for it.
The movie also introduced a new generation to that amazing invasion that was the turning point of World War II. The mission: retake Europe from the grip of Adolf Hitler. Now how did they capture something as big as Europe? By just dropping paratroopers in the middle and saying, "We are taking Europe!"? No-o-o-o. That's what D-Day was all about-tens of thousands of Allied soldiers putting everything they had into capturing a little beach on the coast of France. That's a long way from Berlin, but it's what the military calls a beachhead...a small piece of ground that you get under control. Then you move from that to another small victory and another beachhead. So the heroes of D-Day moved from that beach to take a farm, and then a bridge, and then a village and then another village. And one day they marched into Berlin. They had conquered all that ground, not in one blazing victory, but one beachhead at a time.
We attended a concert, only to learn that it was being taped for later use as a TV program. The host introduced two other men who were going to sing with him, the accompaniment track started up, and they launched into the song; cameras rolling. But they weren't all singing the same song, and that's a problem! The host stopped the song, looked up at the control booth, and said, "Guys, let's start that one over." Guess what? You're not going to see that on TV. Then he said to the audience, "Good thing this is taped, not live, huh?" He was right. I've done my share of live radio, and I want you to know, live is unforgiving. You blow it, you blew it!
When you work at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, you know there will be no physical link to the outside world for you between February and October. You are 840 miles from the nearest populated site and you're facing average winter temperatures of 80 below zero. Now, imagine being one of the women stationed there and discovering a lump that indicates you may have breast cancer. Distant medical authorities determined that this lady had to receive some emergency medical supplies. (And it really happened.) Getting those supplies though? Well, easier said than done.