Skunks are kind of cute; you just don't want to get near them. Humans seem to understand that pretty well. Apparently, some dogs just don't get it. Like the one a pastor friend of mine told me about. The dog belongs to a man in his congregation. Somehow his canine companion got into a tangle with one of those striped kitties. Needless to say, the dog reeked! His owner did his best to bathe him thoroughly. But the smell was still so strong that, before it was over, literally the poor man got so sick in the night he had to go to the hospital!
During holiday seasons in America, and especially Thanksgiving, you can actually call the Butterball Turkey Hot Line. And, yes, you can get an answer to whatever turkey questions you may have. A famous news commentator said that they had monitored that hotline last Thanksgiving; and one lady called and she said, "I've had this turkey in my freezer for 23 years. Can I still use it?" Okay, this is a true story! The man on the hotline said, "Well, if your freezer has been set on zero degrees the whole time and it hasn't been defrosted, then the turkey is probably okay. Maybe the taste isn't though." Well, the lady decided she wouldn't use the turkey after all. She said, "I know, I'll give it to the church."
It was one of those real short nights. I had just spoken for a large youth event, and the night went late for the best of reasons: God brought hundreds of young people to faith in Christ that night. The counseling of all those kids took a blessedly long time. Now Jason, who was one of the organizers, took me to my hotel that night and he told me he would be picking me up in a few hours for my very early morning flight. I said, "I'm sorry you have to get me so early when you've been up so late." He said, "Oh, don't worry. I'll just roll out of bed, throw on a baseball cap, and come on over." (Which, by the way, I think is the major reason there are baseball caps.) Well, bless his heart, that's just what he did. When we got to the airport, I asked him if we could pray together before I went on my plane. He respectfully took off his baseball cap, and we had a neat time of prayer. When I opened my eyes at the end, he still had his cap off. And a very creative hair style - I mean, it was all over the place! He even laughed about it. The cap covered what he didn't want anyone to see-except when he was praying.
It sounded like strange justice. I heard about a judge who sentenced a juvenile offender to, among other things, go watch a movie. The movie was called, "Saving Private Ryan" - a movie that critics say portrayed with savage realism the D-Day Invasion and the awful brutality of war. I guess the judge wanted that juvenile offender to see what his freedom cost the people who fought for it.
The movie also introduced a new generation to that amazing invasion that was the turning point of World War II. The mission: retake Europe from the grip of Adolf Hitler. Now how did they capture something as big as Europe? By just dropping paratroopers in the middle and saying, "We are taking Europe!"? No-o-o-o. That's what D-Day was all about-tens of thousands of Allied soldiers putting everything they had into capturing a little beach on the coast of France. That's a long way from Berlin, but it's what the military calls a beachhead...a small piece of ground that you get under control. Then you move from that to another small victory and another beachhead. So the heroes of D-Day moved from that beach to take a farm, and then a bridge, and then a village and then another village. And one day they marched into Berlin. They had conquered all that ground, not in one blazing victory, but one beachhead at a time.
Alexander the Great conquered most of the then-known world by the age of 33. One of the reasons for that was the iron discipline he insisted on among his troops. That's why a young soldier was so terrified as he was hauled into Alexander's tent to answer for charges of cowardice and desertion in battle. The general was seated at a table, and the accused soldier stood before him. Alexander said, "Soldier, you've been accused of deserting during battle – guilty or not?" "Guilty," he replied almost inaudibly. The general followed up by asking, "What's your name, soldier?" The answer came, "Uh, my name is Alexander, sir." It was at that point that Alexander the Great leaped to his feet, reached across the table, grabbed the soldier by the collar and shouted, "Either you change your life or you change your name!"
It had been a long time since Karen and I did the baby thing, but then our kids started having kids. And our first grandchild came. Our wonderful grandson, and I forgot how those little guys could eat! I assure you there was nothing wrong with this boy's appetite. You could tell the first couple of days on earth. He'd start crying to make his announcement that it was time to eat, and he wouldn't stop crying until he had his fill. Of course, I'm like that sometimes. And then that second day, he had just eaten, and right away here he is again announcing he still needed to eat some more. We were able to distract him briefly. You know, we could play or sing or change positions, but only briefly. Nope! Pretty soon he was at it again – until he got fed some more.
One of the great privileges of my life was serving in the leadership of the Northern New Jersey Billy Graham Crusade in the Meadowlands. Now, for many of us who had been trying to reach people in this very hard corner of America, it was thrilling to see that arena nearly full on that opening Wednesday night. The arena seats 18,000 people, and filling it in Jesus' name was a victory of historic proportions for our area. By Thursday, it was totally full. But I was strangely restless. See, by faith, we had set up 8,000 chairs and a jumbo-tron video screen in the parking lot just in case there was overflow. It looked like we wouldn't need it – as the press so graciously reminded us. Even though we were seeing unprecedented attendances and spiritual harvests, I felt led to pull together several of our Crusade leaders after the second night. After thanking God for all He had done, I asked them to pray with me a prayer I had never prayed before. "Lord, if anyone other than You is holding a lid on this thing, if there's even more You want to do, would You blow the lid off!"
My wife, Karen, was waking up to a sound she hadn't heard before and she couldn't identify. It sounded like crinkling cellophane, and it was coming from inside our bedroom walls! Now, somehow I missed this little symphony, but Karen sure picked up on it. Since we were pretty sure no one was actually crinkling cellophane in our walls, we looked into other possibilities. Like carpenter ants, for example. And sure enough, that's what it was! Those little marauders were feasting on the wood in our house, and they were gradually eating our home! We didn't even have to think about what to do. "Hello, Mr. Exterminator?"
During one summer with our "On Eagles' Wings" Native American outreach team, we had some 5,000 miles to cover in about five weeks. In order to make it to all the reservations to which we had accepted invitations, we needed a comfortable bus. And God wonderfully provided that through some brothers in Christ. Now our bus driver, Josh, really knew his way across the West, and my wife Karen really didn't. It was often her job to drive another vehicle that we needed. That meant traveling many unfamiliar miles, but she found a way to simplify the process. She just kept her eyes on that bus. If Josh turned, she turned. If Josh stopped, she stopped. She made sure she could even recognize the lights of his bus in case they got separated. Karen said this trip that could have been so difficult and confusing turned out to be pretty relaxed and simple. She didn't try to figure out the route for herself. She had a great trip because one thing governed all her choices-following the man who knew the way.
When I'm on the road and staying in a motel, I'm often leaving pretty early that day for the responsibilities I have. But by the time I return late that night, something amazing has happened. The bed is made and I didn't make it! I've got new, clean towels! I didn't find them. Everything's straightened and neat. I even get these cool little soaps now that are in the bathroom! The Room Fairy has been there! Now, I know that not because I've seen the maid (actually I haven't), but because I can see the results of her work all over the place.