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."

Wednesday, September 19, 2001

When you hear a helicopter going over, you probably look up. I know I do. But it's probably not a major emotional experience for you. It is for Megan's dad. She told me she and her dad were outside recently when a chopper flew over. In her words, "My Dad suddenly hit the deck." In other words, he just instinctively fell to the ground. Now, you know you could look at that reaction and say, "Is he a little strange, or what?" No, he isn't strange. He's a Vietnam veteran. Obviously, Megan was really surprised by her father's unusual behavior - so she said, "What's wrong, Dad?" He said, "It's just part of post-Vietnam trauma. When I hear a chopper, it just triggers something inside. I'm suddenly in combat again." Now Megan understands.

Tuesday, September 18, 2001

Our daughter is all grown up, and married, and even a mom. But the other day she told me about the Bible verse she learned as a little girl and never forgot - "If God be for us, who can be against us?" (Romans 8:31). Then she told me why she never forgot it. One day when she was pretty young I had brought her to my office. And at lunchtime, we walked downtown to get something to eat. And, as she remembers very vividly, we passed this storefront that must have been a fortune teller's place. There was a picture of a big human palm in the window, signifying that the occupant did palm reading. Our daughter tells me that I explained to her what that all meant - and that night she got to thinking about it. And really she was too scared to go to sleep. At which point she says I knelt next to her bed and I gave her a word for today from the Word of God - "If God be for us, who can be against us?" She went to sleep repeating those words - she never forgot them - and she hung onto them many times in the years to come.

Monday, September 17, 2001

It's been a long time since my wife and I had a baby around. And now that our daughter and son-in-law have given us a wonderful grandson named Jordan, we're into the baby thing again. And I want to assure you there is nothing wrong with this boy's appetite! Ooooo! I could tell that during his first couple of days on earth. He'd start crying to announce that it was time to eat. And he would not stop crying until he had his fill. And then that second day, he had just eaten, but right away he was again announcing that he had a need. Oh, we were able to distract him briefly by playing or singing or changing positions - but only briefly. Pretty soon he was at it again - until he got fed some more. Now even though our grandson is, of course, very special, I don't think this appetite thing is very unique. Babies will get their milk!

Friday, September 14, 2001

My wife recently received a lovely, family heirloom, diamond ring. And she took it to the jeweler the other day so he could look at it with that magic eye that jewelers have. As he looked at it under magnification, he let out a curious "hmmm." He told her that the diamond had a fracture in the middle of it, invisible to the naked eye, which caused her to ask how there could be a fracture in the middle. Why didn't it go all the way across the diamond? Mr. Jeweler gave a very interesting explanation. He basically said that while some diamonds are developing, some underground disturbance - maybe a quake or a tremor - causes the diamond to crack. But apparently some diamonds continue to develop anyway. Like the one we have. It was fractured, but it didn't stop growing!

Thursday, September 13, 2001

There was just something about those great vacation adventures I would plan for our family- somehow our kids got to dreading my announcement that I had another one scheduled. Maybe it was that day on Cape Cod. Near Provincetown there are these monster sand dunes. And I had heard that if you climbed to the top of this particular mountain of sand, you would have a beautiful panoramic view of the ocean. So on a hot July day, we started trudging up that dune. And I kept encouraging the troops with the prospect of that fabulous view at the top. And when we finally reached the top, there it was - a panoramic view of another sand dune! Well, against strenuous protests, I moved the troops down that dune and up the next one, sure that our view was one dune away. And there, atop that next dune, we were rewarded with , yeah, another sand dune. And so went our afternoon, up a dune, down a dune, up a dune, down a dune. My mistake - I was sure that what I was looking for must be just over that next hill. It wasn't.

Tuesday, September 11, 2001

Hooper Bay, Alaska. It's a little Eskimo village on the edge of the Bering Sea. And it was a place missionaries had repeatedly wanted our Native American outreach team, "On Eagles' Wings," to go. They all spoke of the unparalleled desperation there. Well, thank God, we were able to go and see an amazing response to the Gospel - although we almost didn't get there! The weather closed in as our small missionary plane made its landing approach. My wife was in that lead plane with several of our Native team leaders. The clouds were very low, the rain was falling, fog was all around. And our seasoned missionary pilot was making literally moment-by-moment judgments as to whether he needed to turn back. Now, hanging out over the Bering Sea, approaching that tiny runway, there was a lot of praying going on. But my wife, who knows enough about flying to read the critical instruments at least, said everything was lined up perfectly. Oh no, not according to their senses, not according to their stomachs, but according to the instruments. And moments later, sure enough, they were safe and sound on that runway! With a total instrument landing!

Monday, September 10, 2001

One of the great privileges of my life was serving in the leadership of the Northern New Jersey Billy Graham Crusade in the Meadowlands. For many of us who had been trying to reach people in this very hard corner of America, it was thrilling to see that arena nearly full on that opening Wednesday night. The arena seats 18,000 people, and filling it in Jesus' name was a victory of historic proportions. By Thursday, it was totally full--but I was strangely restless. By faith, we had set up 8,000 chairs and jumbo-tron video screen in the parking lot, just in case there was overflow. It looked like we wouldn't need it - as the press so graciously reminded us. Even though we were seeing unprecedented attendances and spiritual harvests, I felt led to pull together several of our Crusade leaders after the second night. After thanking God for all He had done, I asked them to pray with me a prayer that I had never prayed before. "Lord, if anyone other than You is holding a lid on this thing, if there's even more You want to do - blow the lid off!"

The next night the arena filled pretty quickly. I was on the platform, seated next to Dr. Graham, when they handed him a note. He showed it to me. It said, "There are 13,000 in overflow!" Dr. Graham said, "I think you should go see it." Well, I did. And what a sight! Eight thousand chairs full, 5,000 people standing, sitting on car hoods, on the ground, even on the porta-johns...and Billy Graham preaching the Gospel on the big screen! It looked like a cross between the feeding of the 5,000 and a drive-in movie. And the rate of response that night was higher in the parking lot than it even was indoors! So much for that lid!

Thursday, September 6, 2001

Maybe it's because my father-in-law was a corrections officer for a while, and I've heard his stories about the wasted lives behind prison bars. But whatever the reason I've always admired the men who minister as prison Chaplains. It's tough ministry but it's ministry where it's desperately needed. I've got a new friend, Bill, and he works as a prison Chaplain and he recently told me about an incident that touched me when he told me and it continues to touch me. Bill had been visiting this cell block and he went out in the exercise yard for some fresh air, he said. There was this clean cut, young inmate who walked up to him and said, "Hey mister! Are you broke?" Well, Bill kinda' fished around in his pocket and didn't find any money in there and the inmate said, "It doesn't matter, your money is no good in here anyway. Are you broke?" Only this time the inmate had tears in his eyes. And then here's what he said, "Mister, don't try to minister to people in here if you ain't broke, cause we all are." Now, that's not just inside prison walls.

Tuesday, September 4, 2001

Not long ago we met some wonderful radio listeners from the Sault St. Marie area of Michigan - way up north, you know, near the Canadian border. They told me this amusing, and slightly amazing, true story about a woman they met recently. She was driving from Detroit, which is about six hours south of them, and she was lost. So she stopped in at our friend's workplace, looking for directions. Now that's not anything unusual. But she walked in the door blurting one frustrated question, "Which way's Texas?" Texas! Well, for starters, ma'am, you need to turn that car around and go six hours back to the place where you started!

            

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