Okay, I don't remember a lot of content from my science classes in school, but I remember some of the experiments. Remember the one with the hand generator? They connect it to this light bulb, and the harder you crank, the brighter the light gets? If you're gonna try and run your stove, your lights, your air conditioner, your TV with a little hand crank generator, now you've got a power shortage.
Remember some years ago when the Olympics were in Russia? I liked that news a whole lot better than more recent news about Russia. Yeah, they had fireworks that ended the Russian Olympics. And now the fireworks are in Ukraine. And suddenly part of Ukraine was part of Russia. Hello? Russia flexing its expansionist muscles on the world's stage, I'm hearing those two words again that I haven't heard for a long time - Cold War.
Part of our ministry team has worked on a remote Native American reservation in the Southwest. In fact, our sons launched this ground-breaking outreach to Native young people many years ago there. The ministry at that reservation is part of our bigger initiative, "On Eagles' Wings."
Well, in the summer it's nice to think about winter Olympics. Well, you know what? I'm not like most people who watch the Olympics. You know, like the winter Olympics, the women's Olympic figure skating? Well, a lot of people just enjoy the grace of the "twizzles" and the "triple lutzes" (whatever those are). Not me. No, I love the stories. I'm a story guy. So I'm sitting there mulling the stories of those skaters. And thinking, "We've got something to learn from her."
The man who first climbed Mt. Everest said his reason for risking it was simply "because it was there." That's how it was with that monster sand dune near a Bible conference where I was speaking. Now, it wasn't exactly Mt. Everest, but it was a pretty daunting mountain of sand. The reward for reaching the top? A scenic view of a nearby lake and the satisfaction that you did it. I convinced two of our team members to climb that dune with me. Climbing sand is kind of like, you know, "much effort, little progress," as your shoes start filling with sand and your legs start yelling "Stop this!" We were about halfway to the top when my younger colleagues said, "Is this far enough?" They were ready to quit. We stopped to catch our breath and I pointed to the bottom of the dune and I said, "Hey, look at how far we've already come! Let's not turn back now!" They rolled their eyes and grudgingly agreed to follow the old guy all the way to the top. We were really hot. We were really tired. But I'll tell you what, the view at the top and the joy of conquest made it worth it!
Okay, I guess I'm a typical American, because I like football, baseball, and basketball. Now, luge, bobsled, slopestyle, halfpipe - not as much. But, like millions of others, there's something about the winter Olympics that drew me in to watch sports that I know little about. It's because of the drama; the world's best on the world stage, with much of their life invested in what will be only minutes of their life, giving it all for the glory of winning or the agony of losing.
I had 18 hours in the city of Rome. That's how long it was between my flight connections to Africa. I decided not to waste that time sleeping in the airport when I could be seeing one of the world's great cities. Right? And, my missionary friend, Dave, was kind enough to be my chauffeur and guide. With his help, I got a whirlwind tour that included the Coliseum, the Sistine Chapel, and some beautiful piazzas. But the highlight of my day in Rome was my visit to the Catacombs, those ancient caverns that wind beneath the streets of Rome. Dave's been there many times so he said he'd wait while I went in. Well, here were the caverns where some of the first Christians hid from the Roman soldiers who would take them to their execution for believing in Christ. And here's where they carved in the walls the ancient symbols of their faith - like the cross and the sign of the fish. Those symbols are still there as a silent testimony to their faithfulness. And here in the walls, they buried countless loved ones who'd been torn to pieces by lions in the Coliseum all because they would not renounce Christ for Caesar. As I emerged from those Catacombs, Dave said, "Well, what did you think?" All I could say was, "Our faith is very, very expensive."
Jenny was a counselor with a student group we had taken to a youth organization conference at the New Jersey Shore. She was walking along the Boardwalk enjoying all the attractions, and suddenly she heard what she thought was a scream. It seemed to be coming from the ocean. Now, it was night and it was, of course, too dark to see out there. So Jenny ran down the steps, across the beach, and to the water's edge.
Recently, a friend of mine had a ringside seat on a family of birds. They actually decided to nest under the roof on the porch. The fun part was watching the birth and development of those baby birds. My friend actually got to see them hatching out and then settling down into their nest. They all fit in there so nicely - at first. See, Mama kept filling their open mouths with more and more food, and the little birdies didn't stay little! They grew and the nest seemed to shrink. As it got more and more crowded, each baby did more and more wiggling around to kind of keep his position in the nest. Then they feathered out and they forgot about all of them sitting in the nest ever again! Well, they began to perch on the edges of the nest until they were pushed off the edge by their siblings in a battle for whatever food Mama brought. One by one, as crowding pushed those little birds to the edge - and then over the edge - they were forced to fly or die. They decided to fly. The last nester stayed in the nest for actually another full week, being fed as an only child by Mama Bird. Finally, Mama must have gotten disgusted with her nest-addicted child. She quit feeding him. First, there was a lot of squawking and fussing, and then even he abandoned the nest to finally touch the sky.
All of a sudden The Son of God was in theaters all over the place. Actually, a movie by that name - Son of God. And based on its opening weekend, it was drawing a crowd. Of course that was not the first time something like that had happened. "The Passion of the Christ" turned out to be a blockbuster, too. Who would have guessed that?