Wednesday, October 24, 2001
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. 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 one 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. Until one day they marched into Berlin. They had conquered all that ground - not in one blazing victory - but one beachhead at a time.
Tuesday, October 23, 2001
John and Becky were gone when this huge windstorm hit their neighborhood recently. Although no one could be sure a tornado was involved, the winds were clocked at 70 miles an hour. John and Becky told me that when they returned later that day, their street was closed. A huge pine tree had been blown down, and it fell right across the road. Now other kinds of trees had lost some branches, but the wind had actually totally uprooted this evergreen. Well, a neighbor explained to John that it really isn't that hard to uproot a pine tree - no matter how big it is. Because even though it's a big tree, it has shallow roots - so it's relatively easy to bring it down.
Monday, October 22, 2001
You know, sometimes people just overwhelm me with their love and their kindness. Some dear people from the church I grew up in learned about some needs we've had in our home for a long time. And well, with the schedule I have, there really hasn't been much time to make some of the desperately needed improvements or repairs--not to mention the fact that I am constructionally challenged, shall we say. And with our limited budget, we haven't been able to pay anyone else to do it either. Well, in this amazing expression of God's love, a work crew from my childhood church came to our house for three intensive days of house transformation. And now we can see all over the house the wonderful results of their labors.
But while they were in the middle of that work, life got very interesting around our house. We couldn't park in the driveway. Walking through the house was like walking through a minefield of cans and tools and workers. Our clothes were out of closets and laying all over tables. Furniture that had to be moved out of the worker's way made it very exciting just to walk through the house. It was a total mess! And even though I didn't enjoy the mess, I could handle the mess--for one simple reason: they were making our house a mess in order to make it better than it's ever been before.
Tuesday, October 16, 2001
This past summer I introduced a group of young people to someone they started calling "Evil Bert." You see, Bert was actually a hand puppet I asked one of our more creative leaders to make for me. He was limited to the few materials we had at this training camp, but somehow he managed to create a primitive puppet - who just happened to have very black eyes, eyebrows, nose, mouth - and a not-too-friendly expression. Some said he looked a little like "Bert" of "Bert and Ernie" fame on "Sesame Street" - so he was "Evil Bert". And he certainly lived up to his name. He held this styrofoam bat in his hand, and as I walked around the room with Evil Bert on my hand, he kept hitting people with it. But was Evil Bert really the problem?
Wednesday, October 10, 2001
You've probably seen the G. I. Joe action dolls. I never bought one of those for my boys - but I did buy a special version of G. I. Joe lately - as an object lesson for our "On Eagles' Wings" team of young Native Americans. This particular, limited edition doll portrays a group of unsung heroes from World War II called the Navajo Code Talkers. They were soldiers who worked in wartime communications in some of the fiercest battles of the Pacific campaign. They used their Navajo language to communicate in a code that baffled the Japanese. Some surviving Code Talkers were recently honored by the President in Washington. The Code Talker G. I. Joe actually says a few Navajo phrases when you pull his string. I wanted to use that doll as an example of how some young Native Americans helped determine the outcome of the battle - and how God wants to use young Native Americans to do that today in the battle for their people. Now my Navajo G. I. Joe has stayed unopened in his box for nearly a year since I bought him - they're pretty rare. Because he's almost a collector's item, I didn't really want to take Joe out of his box. But you can't get him to do what he does if you leave him in the box.
Friday, October 5, 2001
Every year with our "On Eagles' Wings" team of young Native Americans is an adventure, no matter what reservation or villages we're going to. But our two summers in Alaska were especially challenging. Our usual mode of operation is to travel by bus to each reservation, and we carry under the bus everything we need for our outreach events, literature distribution, and the care of our team. Not when we went to Alaska. Some of the Native villages there are 400 miles from the nearest road! So, goodbye, bus! Goodbye, carrying everything we need with us! Hello, airplanes! Hello, boats! Hello, shipping everything ahead for each village! Hello, whole new way of doing things!
Wednesday, October 3, 2001
President Ronald Reagan found it out the hard way. He was preparing to do his regular Saturday morning radio address (which by the way, is live radio) - and he offhandedly made some joking comment about bombing the Russians. Unfortunately, that comment went out over the airwaves. Oops! See, he didn't know the microphones were on. Take it from me. I spend a lot of time in a radio studio. That's something very important when you're doing live radio - knowing when the microphone is on - or you can actually end up saying something that you really didn't mean for other people to hear.
Tuesday, October 2, 2001
Our kids' first pet was one of those furry little fellows called a gerbil. Frankly, I think gerbils need to get a life. Did you ever watch a gerbil? They do the same thing almost all the time. I'd walk over to our gerbil's cage and there he was - on the wheel. Running on the wheel. Go back two hours later, there he is - on the wheel. Running on the wheel. Going nowhere. If you could talk to Gerbie, you might just say to him, "Do you know you're not going anywhere on that wheel? You're just burning up a lot of energy. Don't you think you should maybe change something?" So he does. He runs faster on the wheel, going nowhere! Dumb gerbil.
Monday, September 24, 2001
Our neighbor Dan is a walking miracle. Last year he was in a terrible automobile accident that many would say should have killed him. He was evacuated from the crash site by a helicopter, actually with multiple injuries, including his back being broken in two places. But God wasn't finished with Dan yet. He miraculously spared his life - and miraculously delivered Dan from the paralysis that his injuries should have given him. And through it all, Dan surrendered his life to Jesus Christ. What a testimony Dan has! Now, I've never had a serious injury in my life - I've never been in a hospital facing possible death or paralysis. Now look at what God healed Dan from! So my story is nowhere near as dramatic as Dan's. But that's OK. I'm excited about how God put Dan back together - but I'm glad I didn't have to be put back together!
Friday, September 21, 2001
It was the countdown week to the birth of our first grandson. And, as you might expect, there were some of those mother/daughter conversations about the experience of actually birthing this child you've carried for nine months. Unfortunately, I didn't think there was a lot I could contribute here, so I graciously left this to my wife. And while our daughter was still at home with some of those first contractions, I overheard my wife giving her some insight - the words of the veteran who's been there and knows what's ahead. She said, "You're going to reach a point where you'll feel like you just can't take it anymore. Hang on, honey. That's when the baby comes."