Wednesday, December 1, 2010

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King George and his army must have been having a good laugh. George Washington and his Continental Army had been whipped in battle after battle in their campaign to become independent from Britain. British troops had driven the Americans out of New York City, across the Hudson River, across New Jersey, and finally into Pennsylvania. Then came the winter of 1777, at a place outside of Philadelphia called Valley Forge. Washington's troops faced not only a physical winter there, but an emotional winter. Discouragement and defeat may have been their worst enemies. But General Washington wasn't about to let those enemies win. He fought back by immediately deploying his soldiers to fortifying their camp. Then the drills began. A veteran European military officer began to drill those soldiers every day, teaching them a single set of maneuvers rather than the multiple approaches that had created confusion in those past battles. That winter, they were learning one way of doing things while Washington worked on getting more recruits and building his army into a real fighting force. Many historians believe that the outcome of America's battle for independence was decided at Valley Forge more than any battle - an army that came out of Valley Forge to stun the British with major victories. One army went into the winter at Valley Forge - divided, discouraged, demoralized. Another army emerged from that winter. They were unified, they were fortified, they were confident because of what they had done with their winter.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

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In ongoing attempts to establish more regular exercise in our lives, my wife and I moved into this walking kick at one time, and we should get back into it now, I guess. Actually, my wife took the research approach, including reading books on walking, which I wasn't sure was necessary since I've been walking since I was about a year old. One of those books was by a man who literally walked across America. I was hoping that was not one of my wife's goals for our exercise program. Well, I was intrigued by an observation made by this super-walker. When someone asked him what the greatest obstacle was in his long hike across the country, he gave a pretty surprising answer. He said, "The little pebbles I got in my shoes."

Monday, November 22, 2010

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Don't you sometimes wish you could see the world as little kids see it at least for a little while? It's so refreshing to hear their perspectives on things, expressed simply - and usually expressed very directly. I was blessed recently by an observation made by a three-year-old granddaughter. A friend asked her, "What's your granddad up to these days?" To which she simply replied: "Oh, he's getting taller." I am? I'd like to think she's right. I think I'll go measure.

Monday, November 8, 2010

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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. It was no Mt. Everest, but it was a pretty daunting mountain of sand. The reward for reaching the top was 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 "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 very hot. We were very tired, but the view at the top and the joy of conquest made it worth it!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

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If you travel America's interstate highways much, you've seen lots of cars, lots of scenery, and lots of road kills. Yes, many animals still think they can beat the cars that are storming down the highway - and they're wrong. They end up as those carcasses we see by the edge of the road. It must be a full-time job just picking up all those road kills. At one spot on an interstate in Pennsylvania, they didn't pick up one of them. The news reported that a paving crew found a dead deer in their path and they didn't remove it. They just paved right over it! Great! No one could see it now, but they sure felt it!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

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Our son can usually tell when the weather's about to change. His knee is his own personal "weather channel." He seems pretty young to have pain like that, but it actually goes back to one day on a football field in high school. When one hit tore his anterior cruciate ligament - that infamous "ACL" injury so many athletes dread. Since he was five, his dream had been to play football, and he did and he was good, but then the injury. I was with him in the office of a sports medicine specialist when the doctor said, "You'll never play football again." That was the day his dream died. And, as he says now as part of his life testimony, it was the day his god died. His sports dream was dead. But that began a series of events that led to a time of tearful repentance, then the redirecting of his life goals, and ultimately to the incredible ways God has used him among Native American young people. And lest he forget who's in charge, he's got this alarm in his knee.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

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It's been a fun assignment over the years to speak for some professional football chapels, especially my old hometown team, the New York Giants. Of course it's pretty funny seeing me in a room with them. It looks like the New York Giants with special guest, the New York Midget. But on several occasions I have been able to go to the game that same day with the team chaplain. In one game he leaned over to me and he said, "Now I want you to see one of the most powerful men in this stadium." There were 70,000 people there and I knew how powerful some of the men on the field are. And I wondered maybe if it was an owner or an executive. Nope! The chaplain pointed to this little man with a big bright orange glove on one hand. "Him," I said? He said, "Just watch." And after a play, that man stepped out on the field, put his orange-gloved hand on his chest and the game totally stopped. Now that is power!

Monday, September 20, 2010

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God has the most amazing ways of getting our attention. My friend, Brian, has been involved in evangelism for many years. Which of course, means he spends a lot of time on the road. Which, in his case, meant a lot of opportunities to mess up in an area where he has struggled for many years; a weakness for pornography. Now, Brian was determined to get the victory over this slave master, so he took some very bold defensive action. He stayed away from places where he might encounter pornography. He even asked those who invited him to speak to put him up in private homes rather than motels. But one college he was invited to insisted on lodging him in a motel. Well, he's driving through Iowa on his way to this school, and he stops at a gas station in the middle of nowhere for a cold drink. When he walked in the store, there was a whole wall covered with pornographic magazines. After just a moment, the old Brian thought, "Nobody knows I'm a minister here. I could get a couple magazines and take them to my motel room." Right then, someone came running in the store and asked, "Does anyone here have a gray Firebird?" Brian knew that was his car. "It's sitting out in the middle of the highway." Brian raced outside to find that his car had somehow, inexplicably, rolled into the highway in the flats of Iowa! Needless to say, he didn't go back inside that store. And he's been winning his battle for a long time.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

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Dr. Harry Ironside used to tell a story about a man who lived in a small country town in England. One day, he went to London where he would need to stay for several days. He was glad to be there on a Sunday because that gave him opportunity to hear some of the great preachers of that day. He wrote home to his wife, and he said: "Last Sunday morning I went to hear Dr. Jones, and in the evening I went to the Metropolitan Tabernacle to hear Charles Spurgeon. I was so greatly impressed by both of them. Dr. Jones is certainly a great preacher, but Mr. Spurgeon has a great Savior."

Monday, July 6, 2009

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If an American soldier gets wounded in combat these days, his chances for recovery just got a whole lot better than they have ever been because of the beads. It's actually a new technology that is being used to treat combat wounds. These dissolvable beads are applied to the wound and they go deeper than any previous cleansing agents have ever gone. In fact, they can even penetrate bone. One of the doctors who helped develop this new treatment made this interesting observation about the battle to head off infection in a soldier's wound. He said, "The wound is the battle; the infection is the war."

            

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