Friday, January 11, 2002

Dr. Christiaan Barnard died recently - a doctor who made medical history. He performed the first successful heart transplant in human history. Since then, the procedure has become much more advanced as a way to extend the life of someone with a failing heart. I've got friends whose lives were radically changed by a heart transplant - an operation from which they recovered in surprisingly short time. I mean, it's pretty amazing to think that a surgeon can literally put a new heart in someone. Of course, heart transplants have been going on since long before Dr. Barnard's historic surgery.

Thursday, January 10, 2002

If you happen to watch the Discovery Channel on cable TV, you can end up seeing some real "reality TV" - including some pretty unusual fare. How about this one, "The Search for the Giant Squid"? No, that is not an adventure flick - it was a documentary about one scientist's quest to film what no one has ever filmed - the giant squid. For the whole hour, the viewer follows this man's almost lifelong pursuit. You watch as the likely target area is identified -- as an expensive expedition follows clues that seem to be leading to the elusive prey - the giant squid. But at the end, you find out you got sucked into an expedition that ultimately failed to find what it was looking for.

Wednesday, January 9, 2002

Years ago a major art gallery sponsored a competition for painters. They were offering prizes for the best painting on the subject of "Peace." As attenders browsed through the entries, most had decided that a one certain painting was almost sure to win. It portrayed this lush green pasture under a vivid blue sky, with the cows grazing lazily and a little boy walking through the grass with his fishing pole over his shoulder. It really made you feel peaceful. But it came in second. The painting that won was a real surprise. The scene was the ocean in a violent storm. The sky was ominous, the lightning was cutting across the sky, and the waves were crashing into the rock walls of the cliffs by the shore. No peace. But you had to look twice to understand what was going on. There, about halfway up the cliff, was a birds' nest, tucked into a tiny hollow in the rock. A mother bird was sitting on that nest - with her little babies, tucked underneath her, sleeping soundly. That was peace!

Tuesday, January 8, 2002

He's a baseball legend. Cal Ripken Jr. played all 21 years of his Major League career with hometown Baltimore Orioles. He holds several defensive records and he is only one of seven players who got 400 home runs and 3,000 hits. But as sportswriters reflected on his career as he retired at the end of the 2001 season, what many considered his most significant achievement was that, for 16 straight years, he played in every single game, setting the all-time record of 2,632 consecutive games played. When the ill will from the 1994 players' strike was still in the air, he tied and passed Lou Gehrig's long-standing record for consecutive games played. The fans cheered loud and long. As one magazine said, "This wasn't Joe DiMaggio hitting in 56 straight games or Hank Aaron's clubbing 755 homers. This was a record that required a talent all mere mortals could display - faithfully showing up for work every day."

Monday, January 7, 2002

When the President of the United States declared a war on terrorism, the lives of millions of American military personnel suddenly changed dramatically. Some of the first to be affected were the crews of our major combat ships, like aircraft carriers. In a matter of days, thousands were shipping out. Reporters were trying to guess what their destinations were. But, of course, not even the crews knew. Except for a few commanders, their orders were unknown.

Wednesday, January 2, 2002

Several of our team members were driving together to ministry events in a nearby state. We were in two cars, but we stayed in touch by means of walkie-talkies. At a couple of points, one of the men in the car behind me pointed out a hawk he spotted soaring gracefully above us. We saw several of them, actually. Now, when you see a hawk or eagle, it is always an event for a city boy like me. But as my friend - who was not driving at the time - pointed out one of those hawks, the man who was driving said, "Well, I just saw a dead coyote on the shoulder." As our walkie-talkie conversations went on during the trip, that wasn't the last hawk the one man saw - or the last road kill that his driver saw.

Tuesday, January 1, 2002

When America decided to go after the Taliban in its war on terrorism, there were a lot of warnings about what a difficult battleground Afghanistan can be - and what a tough enemy the Taliban would be. That is why so many of us were so surprised when the Taliban fighters seemed to retreat so quickly from city after city in Northern Afghanistan as the Northern Alliance advanced. But Taliban defectors said that the relentless American bombing had really affected their morale. The U. S. military strategy going into the Afghan conflict was not a new one - begin with an air war - heavy bombing to "soften up" your enemy before the ground forces make a move. As we learned in the Gulf War, it can lead to a surprisingly quick victory.

Friday, December 28, 2001

My wife was just a girl when her grandparents down the road started building a little farmstead to live in. Because she had expressed a desire to be a missionary someday, Granddad thought she needed to know how to do things for herself - including laying block for a building. So, she got to help lay the block for her grandparents' house. Now in the amazing, surprising ways of God, we are now living in that house - many years after it was built. We kinda kid my wife that the crooked blocks are the ones she did!

Thursday, December 27, 2001

For three months, Dayna Curry and Heather Mercer had been prisoners of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, accused along with other aid workers of trying to convert Afghans to Christianity. In October of 2001 their prison cells was shaken by the thunder of U. S. bombs falling on the city of Kabul. Weeks later, after a cold, sleepless night in a steel shipping container, the girls and their colleagues found themselves in a new prison south of Kabul, with rockets crashing down on the contested town they were in. Suddenly, men were banging on their prison doors. They believed that their Taliban captors were returning, and now their fate was clearly uncertain as the situation around them dissolved into chaos. Then, to their surprise, an anti-Taliban soldier came in with reams of ammunition around his neck. He was just shouting two wonderful words - "You're free! You're free!"

Wednesday, December 26, 2001

My wife and I were traveling with our daughter and son-in-law and our two dynamite little grandsons. We were in adjoining motel rooms for a couple of days - and that's what occasioned our son-in-law's amusing comparison of our rooms. You see, our rooms were basically identical - when we each moved in. We moved our stuff into our room - they moved in themselves, their children, their children's world, and some "office on the road" stuff. Well, on our second day, our son-in-law plopped down in a chair in our room and he made this bemused observation - "You know, your room is three times bigger than our room!" Not true. See, our room was the same size. It was just one-third as crowded!

            

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Harrison, AR 72602-0400

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