Sometimes I'll say kiddingly, "I've figured out what my thorn in the flesh is. My metabolism." It's true. It just doesn't turn calories into energy fast enough. Translation: I get fat easily. Years ago, my not-very-tall body weighed in at 210 - I've been about 40 or 50 pounds less than that for a long time now. And I want to stay that way. But I still have the same metabolism that got me to 210 - and the bakery, candy store, ice cream place look just as tempting - but I have to remember how hard it was to get that weight off! It's worth saying no to some temptations to avoid the struggle of getting back in shape!

Isn't it amazing how intrigued so many people are with the Titanic - 85 years after it hit an iceberg and sank? Two TV mini-series on it, a blockbuster movie, explorations of the wreckage, even sales of pieces of coal from the Titanic. But it's hard to get the picture out of our minds. The proudest ship ever built - the supposedly unsinkable ship - on its maiden voyage, and then the haunting images of her disappearing into the icy waters of the Atlantic. Some 1,500 people died that night! It wasn't that the Titanic didn't try to get help. They set off flares and radioed an S.O.S. - which was picked up by a ship named the California. Historians have generally thought the California was about 20 miles away that fatal night - too far to away to help. That was until we learned exactly where the Titanic went down. Looking at the location of the California that night and the location of the Titanic has revealed an awful historical secret. It turns out the California was only about five miles away! Which means they were close enough to save people - and they just didn't respond.

The scene is a high school assembly where I was speaking. I've asked five students to come on stage with me. One young man is blindfolded and standing in the middle of his four friends. They form a square around the blindfolded guy - one has a $10 bill to give him - if he chooses to come to their corner of the square. The problem is the other three are going to tell him they have the $10 - even though they don't. In fact, they each have something else to give Mr. Blindfold if he comes to their corner. One has a super-soaker squirt gun to baptize him with, one has a full trash can to dump in his arms, and the other has a whipped cream pie to put in his face. This poor young man in the center knows three of his friends will be lying about having the money, one will be telling the truth - but he has to decide, sight unseen, which corner he will go to. They each make their convincing pitch for why what he wants is in their corner. Then, he has to decide which voice he will follow. Right choice - he walks away better off. Wrong choice - uh, messy ending!

I met Gary when we were both working with our local high school football team. He was a coach - I was the football. Actually, I was sort of an unofficial chaplain for the team. Gary's basically a happy guy, pretty laid back. Until they come up in the conversation. They are the men who were prisoners of war or missing in action in the Vietnam War. When it comes to the subject of the MIA's who have not been accounted for, Gary isn't laid back anymore. He becomes very intense, very serious. He is one of a number of veterans who are determined to do whatever they can to make sure we do everything we can to locate or account for those missing soldiers. I was at a flag-raising ceremony where Gary participated in uniform. The rallying point of the veterans there was that black flag - you may have seen it. It has the silhouette of a man's head on it - the words P.O.W. and MIA - and a stirring four-word motto - "You are not forgotten."

Spring is nice - it means flowers! Spring is not nice - it also can mean floods! One North Dakota town saw it coming - the floods, not the flowers. And they decided they weren't just going to sit there an float away. Because of a winter that had produced mountains of snow, they knew where that snow would go when it melted - right into their homes and businesses. So, while the snow was still deep, they started to make an island out of their town. Everyone pitched in to literally build an earthen dike around the town. Yes, they would be an island - yes, they would be surrounded by a flood - but they made a wall so they would be safe in the middle of it!

When my friends tell me they get a headache, they don't get much sympathy. I usually just tell them that pain always attacks at the weakest point. They really appreciate that! Actually, we all have our favorite headache remedy - one or two of this pill or that and we wait for the relief as those pills race through our system. I know they do - I saw it on a commercial once. But maybe you remember a twisted act of individual terrorism that happened a few years ago, it turned relief into tragedy. Someone had managed to put poison in some pain relief capsules - there was a sudden series of deaths from some people who took this particular brand. I remember reading, for example, about a flight attendant who arrived home after a trip with a serious headache. She reached for a couple pain relief capsules. I'm sure she thought they would make her feel better soon. Instead, she died from them.

Imagine a train traveling about 1,000 miles - and the passengers are almost all teenagers! And I was one of them. You say, "You mean they had trains back then?" Yes - they had just been invented. Thousands of us were on our way to this national youth convention on specially chartered trains. And don't you wish you could be a chaperone for something like that?

I had a busy schedule of speaking in the Chicago area that week - but I had one night free. It happened to be during Founder's Week, the outstanding Bible Conference that's held by Moody Bible Institute every year. When I heard that one of my favorite speakers was there that night, I told my wife - who was able to make this particular trip with me - that I wanted to attend. And we did, along with some of our ministry team members. Now, since we would be arriving a little late, I called and asked that some seats be reserved - they were kind enough to accommodate us. But something very unexpected happened that night at Founder's Week - very unexpected. The president of the Moody Alumni Association began reading a brief biography of the person who was to be honored as this year's Alumnus of the Year. The more he read, the more familiar this life story sounded - to my total shock, he was describing me. Well, my wife says I slowly sank in my chair and fought a losing battle with the tears in my eyes over God's amazing grace in my life. Now, afterwards, I had a thousand questions about how I had actually ended up at that meeting that night. My family and team members had been involved in an eight-month process to maneuver me to Chicago for that week and to a schedule that led right to that place. I was sure it had been my choice - but I had actually been skillfully directed to that choice through the imperceptible workings of someone else. And as for the seats I reserved that morning, they had been reserved for a long time!

Angels, angels, and more angels. Somehow, the world has suddenly gotten very interested in angels. In fact, one of America's most popular TV shows has been a positive show called "Touched by an Angel." It's about these two angels - sort of a rookie and a veteran - who are sent on various assignments to deliver God's messages to people who are in critical situations. Now, I've watched it every once in a while - and the one I saw recently was about the rookie angel's performance review by a senior angel. Now, in the process, they flashed back on the highlights of some of the situations where she had touched people's lives and they had touched hers. There was one brief excerpt from a previous show that really hit me hard, even though I don't know what the whole story was. The young angel was kneeling at the feet of a man who appeared to be a dirty old derelict. The angel had a basin of water - and the man was telling her not to do what she was about to do - wash his feet. But she looked up at him with tears in her eyes and gave an answer that obviously came from deep in her heart - "I have to do this," the angel explained, "so I remember who I am."

Boutros Boutros-Ghali is gone - the man who was Secretary General of the United Nations through much of the 1990s.

Boutros Boutros-Ghali was replaced by a highly respected African diplomat with the comparatively boring name of Kofi Annan. As the spotlight shifted to the new Secretary General, reporters began to learn more about his life, including an enlightening true story he told from his childhood. His teacher came into his class one day when he was a boy, and hung a big white piece of paper on the board with a little black dot in the lower right hand corner. The teacher asked a simple question of his class, "What do you see, boys?" Everyone shouted out eagerly, "The dot! The black dot!" That's when the teacher said, "That's interesting. Doesn't anyone see a big white piece of paper? After all, the dot is just one little spot on this huge page." The Secretary General of the U.N. said he never forgot the lesson from that day - in areas such as negotiations, let's say. Don't get stuck staring at a little dot!

            

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