Our friends had bought a new horse and named it Peanut. What kind of horse does that suggest to your imagination? A cute little Shetland Pony? Nope. Try again. Peanut was the biggest horse in their pasture. You know those Clydesdale horses in commercials, you'll have some idea of the size of this big mama. Part Belgian, part Morgan. That meant she was so big my body's probably not big enough to ride her. And they named Peanut. Something is wrong in this picture.
My friend Ted was a high school football player - actually he was the starting center. But the game he remembers most is the one he didn't play in. All season, the second string center, Billy, hadn't played much. Well, actually he hadn't played very well. Until the day that Billy came to the coach and said, "Coach, I know you haven't felt I was good enough to start all season, but I want to ask you to start me this one game. Please. It means a lot, and I'm just asking for a chance." The coach agreed and Billy amazed not only his coach, but his teammates and his hometown fans. He played incredible game. No one had ever seen anything close to this kind of performance or ability from him. Needless to say, immediately after the game, the coach said, "Billy, what in the world happened? I didn't know you had it in you!" Billy's explanation was something the coach and my friend would never forget. He said, "My dad died last night, Coach. And he was blind, but not now. Tonight was the first time my father could see me play!"
Have you driven past a home or building that's under construction lately? Take a good look, because there are some things you will never see again, so you'd better look now. Like the foundation for example. You can see it right now while they're building, but pretty soon all you'll see is the house, or the office building, or the condo. The foundation will pretty soon disappear from view. But it's always going to be what's holding up that whole structure. The same is true of the support beams. Pretty soon they're going to be covered with walls, and paint, and wallpaper. But they will always form the invisible support for everything. If the foundation or the support beams go, the whole thing goes.
Our daughter-in-law got our then-baby granddaughter off to a great start - every day. In fact, if you're in any way related to one of Snow White's seven dwarfs (Grumpy, in particular) or even negative old Eeyore in Winnie the Pooh, this baby girl could have helped you. Each morning her mother would sit our little darling in her lap and say, "Honey, 'This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.'" After which she raised the baby's hands above her head and shook them as Mama said, "Ya-a-a-ay!" It was so cute. But what about that day when this little girl was throwing up about every fifteen minutes? That actually happened once when they were visiting us. It was so sad to watch it. I mean she had this troubled look on this little face, followed by a fountain of gross stuff erupting from her little mouth. Mom said, "Honey, even this day is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it." And before Mom could grab baby's hands, this time she raised one hand all by herself as Mommy said, "Ya-a-a-ay!"
It's a special thrill for a follower of Jesus Christ, like me, to be able to walk where Jesus walked. That's why, for many of us, a visit to the Holy Land is a special memory or a special dream. Years ago, one of America's premier preachers at the time - his name was Dr. Robert G. Lee - paid his first visit to Israel. Every place was special, but when his tour group reached Golgotha, the place where many believe Jesus was crucified, he couldn't contain himself. He suddenly started running ahead of the group to get there. The guide had to run to catch up with him, and he asked him breathlessly, "Sir, have you been here before?" Dr. Lee paused and then he answered, "Yes, I have been here before. Almost 2,000 years ago."
It was a wonderful/awful day in my life - the day my mother took my hand and walked me the two blocks over to Park Manor School in Chicago. It was the day I went to school for the first time. Kindergarten, here I come! It was exciting, but it was hard, too. We didn't do any pre-school stuff back then - my family didn't even go to Sunday School. So here was little Ronnie leaving the safety of his apartment, leaving his mother, leaving everything that was safe and familiar for a place I had never been. It sounds a little silly, knowing what I know now. Still, the fears and the feelings were very real then. But if I hadn't left home and stepped into the unknown called school, I would have missed so much!
My sister-in-law used to be involved with insurance claims. And it was not uncommon for her to have clients who had major messes to clean up. Imagine the damage flood waters could do to a home, or a major fire, or even frozen pipes that burst in the winter. That's when they called on a major company known for their specialty - they come in and clean those grossly soaked carpets, they restore that damaged furniture and those smoke-saturated drapes. They are known for being the ones who can clean up a mess that folks could never clean themselves.
Shades of the '60s: angry, discontented young people, occupying public places, trying to call attention to their cause. We've seen that before and we're seeing it a lot these days.
The '60s demonstrations were about a war, and they turned more violent. Then there were the 2011 crowds. They were occupying high-profile public areas like Wall Street, for example, around the world, with a different cause - they were claiming their protest was about jobs, and corporate greed, concentrated wealth, economic injustice.
Our kids played with it when they were little. Our grandkids have been playing with it since they were little. I play with it every once in a while. It's that colorful clay in the round can - it's Play-Doh! You can squeeze that Play-Doh into something flat, something round, something long. You can turn it into any shape you want it to be. Which is OK for a toy - it's not OK for people.
Lake Cumberland is a nice place to go in central Kentucky. It's not a nice place to have come to you. That's what the Army Corps of Engineers has been concerned about. The Wolf Creek Dam holds back millions of gallons of water from Nashville and other communities along the Cumberland River. Well the Army engineers had expressed some growing concerns about a possible dam break. They said a break could kill many residents and it could cause over three billion dollars in damage. A Corps spokesman said that the failure of the dam wasn't imminent at that time but that evacuation plans would be a good idea. So they decided they would lower the water level in the lake and try to fortify the dam, because they said that dam was all that stands between a lot of lives and a major disaster.