We've had a lot of fun in our family with some of the tapes I made when the kids were little. I can hear what they sounded like before they had much of a vocabulary - before their voices changed. It's special memories. So is the tape of our wedding over 30 years ago, it's always a pretty tender time when my wife and I sit and listen to the day we made our lifetime vows to each other. Happy tapes - and then, there was President Richard Nixon - not happy tapes.
The Watergate accusations flew back and forth without making any fatal damage until an aid testified that the President had tapes of his oval office conversations. There was a big legal battle over releasing those tapes, but, eventually the world heard the not very pretty things that were said behind closed doors. I wonder if President Nixon just forgot sometimes that the recorder was running, or if he thought none would ever hear what he was saying. Well, he was wrong.
I was in mid-shave one morning recently, all lathered up, attacking my whiskers with my razor and I heard a little "bang" down the street, and suddenly the power went out. Now fortunately I was still able to find my face in the dark - it was approximately where it usually is. But I knew the rest of the morning was going to be very interesting. You see, it wasn't just a circuit breaker, oh no, no, the power was out on the whole block. No toasted bagel today! No hair dryer, no lamp to read my Bible by - why? That grey cylinder that hangs on that telephone pole down the street - we had no power because the transformer had blown!
Now it's always been my impression that the police like to have the element of surprise in their favor. Suddenly there's a police car coming up behind you, or appearing out of nowhere. That's why I was surprised by something I saw when I was meeting with our Latin American team in Guadalajara, Mexico. At night we were driving around with our Director, David Isais and we saw a police car in front of us. Now, he was in no particular hurry, but his lights were flashing - and David said, "You know the police cars here do that all the time, they leave their lights on whether they are on call, or not." Now, that's an interesting approach to law enforcement - let them know you're coming.
You know a sunny winter day can fool you, you look out the window and you say, "Oh it looks warm," then you go out there and you shiver your timbers and catch a cold for next week! But that sun can get something really warm. Yeah, even on a cold winter day. You know, if you put a board out there, a two-by-four, and you know the old science experiment, you hold a glass over that board and then you let that same sun shine on that through the glass. Eventually that board's going to get very warm, and it may start to smoke...I mean you could probably burn your initials in there if you did it long enough. Now, it's the same board, same sun, what's the difference? That piece of glass makes the difference. Why? Something transforming happens when you focus all that heat, on one spot.
I really enjoy picking out gifts for the people I love, I enjoy giving the gift, I don't enjoy wrapping the gift. In fact, it's tempting just to hand them the present, but it just isn't so special to get a gift in a K-Mart bag. It's nicer to have it wrapped in wrapping paper and bows. But there's something about my motor coordination I guess, the lines must be down between my brain and my hands. My wrapping looks alot like a five-year-old's, so I usually prevail upon my wife, or if it's for her, my sister-in-law. You see, wrapping is extra trouble but a nice gift should come in a nice package.
My wife and I were zipping down the interstate one day when we saw this long cloud of thick, blue smoke ahead of us. As we got closer, we saw that it was belching out of the smoke stack of a semi. The smoke was so heavy you could hardly see as you passed it. It was a good time to hold your breath. These two guys were driving along laughing, seemingly oblivious to the smoke, and the smell that they were spreading down the interstate. Then I noticed some black spots on our windshield, and of course I did what would be instinctive to do, I started to reach for my windshield wipers, and man I'm glad I didn't. I looked at the car in front of me and saw he had turned his on, and all he had done was streak oil all over the window of his car; he could bearly see. That driver probably thought the smoke was just his problem. Hey, it was a problem for everyone who got close to him!
Now there are some American cities that I just really love, and San Diego, California, has to be one of them. Not too long ago I was there for three days - I look forward to that man. I just love to get around San Diego - well I didn't, like an awful lot of meetings I go to. Of course I never got out of the hotel. I could have been anywhere! They put me in a nice room, and I was hardly ever in the room! Now, it was a great time of ministry, and that's actually what I went for so that was fine. But, I would race into my room between meetings and there was bearly time to use the facilities and change clothes and race on out. But no matter how much of a hurry I was in there was one thing I always checked on - the message light. Some phones in some hotel rooms have this little red message light and when they have a message for you at the desk - someone's called you, or sent a fax, or something - that light's on. That means you've got a message - and it's usually information I need. So no matter how fast I'm running, I always look for the message light.
The world's best selling book, but hardly anyone knows what's in it. It's the Bible, of course. Maybe you've had a hard time getting somebody to read the Bible, I think I can make you feel better. I mean, your problem is nothing compared to a fellow named Gabrielle. I was at dinner with a leader of an international Bible distribution organization and their representative in the country of Zimbabwe is named Gabrielle. Now his problem is not dust collecting on peoples Bibles, it's the Bible literally going up in smoke. You see, the pages of a Bible in some African countries are thought to be just perfect to roll a cigarette with. So, he met one man and was offering him a Bible and the man said, "Well, I'll take the Bible," but he said, "I need to let you know that if I take it, I'll smoke it." I'm going to give it to you, Gabrielle said, "I'll give you the Bible if before you smoke it, you read it." Well, he did what he said he would do - he read it, and then he smoked it, until, well, that's the exciting part...
It used to be that two armies would line up, then they would plunge into combat, and the best army would win. It was simpler then. Today it isn't necessarily the fellas with the best army who win, it's the one with the best air-force. It happened in World War II, it happened in certain Vietnam engagements, and it happened dramatically in the Persian Gulf War, remember? I mean, the air-force went in, they immobilized Iraq's capacity to respond, and then they kind of softened up the opposing forces, and there was an air war before anybody moved on the ground. And then once the troops started to move, the planes provided that vital air cover for their operations. Saddam Hussein had a big army, but he lost because his air cover just didn't function.