Wednesday, June 26, 2002

There are few things more scary than the dormitory room of a college man. Let's just say that the average college guy does not put a high priority on order or cleanliness in his personal world. Some wife is listening and saying, "It's not just college guys, buddy!" Well, fine. I'm talking about college guys. One year in college, our son was in a suite where four guys shared two rooms and one bathroom. When I commented on the growing need for the bathroom floor to get washed, he told me about their neighbors' room. Those four men had somehow managed to go through the entire school year without once cleaning their bathroom floor. Of course, it got so gross that they didn't want to walk on it anymore. There were strange new organisms growing there. Oh, did they clean it then? Oh no, no - they put boards down on the floor to cover the mess!

Thursday, June 13, 2002

I’ve done some time at that infamous prison called Alcatraz. I was there about, let’s see, four, five, six hours. Yeah, I was there with a group of young people, originating our youth broadcast from that island that’s in the middle of San Francisco Bay. After we spent about six hours in the confinement of that penitentiary, man, we went outside! There was the skyline of San Francisco, the majestic Golden Gate Bridge, the sparkling waters of the Bay. One of the teenage guys with us made an interesting observation as he looked back at the prison. He said, "Just a wall. It was just a wall keeping them from all this good stuff."

Tuesday, March 12, 2002

They had just gotten the call to go to Afghanistan. Warriors from America's 101st Airborne were, with relatively short notice, on a plane transporting them to the unpredictable and still dangerous military environment in post-Taliban Afghanistan. The news report on their assignment was describing their long flight to their mission - and the moment in their flight when the atmosphere suddenly got more intense. It was late in their journey when their ammunition was handed out to them. One man described the sobering reality of holding his ammunition in his hand. Here's what he said, "Once you pull that trigger, there's no way to get that round back."

For several years, our offices were located on the third floor of an old factory building. An alley ran behind our building, and there was an antique elevator that was useful if you had to transport things to that third floor. If you parked back there, you had to walk by this big old electrical thing that was surrounded by a chain link fence - with a sign that had these words in big print: "High voltage. Do not touch." I never knew anybody who disregarded those instructions.

Tuesday, November 13, 2001

She was only 21 years old - but she was well on her way to becoming a superstar. Aaliyah was enjoying huge success with her music, and she was beginning to emerge as an actress with a great future, as well. But that all ended in one awful moment in the Bahamas when the plane carrying her and her crew crashed shortly after takeoff. What made the crash even more tragic was the fact that apparently it was avoidable - at least on the preliminary findings of investigators. The plane had been loaded with something like twice its maximum baggage capacity. And investigators believe that it was all that weight that made that plane go down.

Monday, October 29, 2001

When your life moves as fast as mine does, your food has to often move pretty fast too - as in drive through orders at fast food restaurants. Now, the one closest to us is a Burger King. This is not an endorsement, it just happens to be close to us. I, needless to say, know their menu pretty well after all these years and my order is pretty predictable, including my drink, which is usually an iced tea. Frankly, I'm not a real tea drinker, but, this tea is pretty good because it is pre-sweetened. To me, tea without sweetener tastes just a little bitter - just a little bland. So, being a fast food frequent flyer, I expect all Burger Kings to do it my way. The way my Burger King does it! Well, they don't. In other parts of the country I've gotten my iced tea, taken my first drink and discovered an unpleasant difference. They gave it to me unsweetened! And it isn't nearly as good that way.

Tuesday, October 16, 2001

This past summer I introduced a group of young people to someone they started calling "Evil Bert." You see, Bert was actually a hand puppet I asked one of our more creative leaders to make for me. He was limited to the few materials we had at this training camp, but somehow he managed to create a primitive puppet - who just happened to have very black eyes, eyebrows, nose, mouth - and a not-too-friendly expression. Some said he looked a little like "Bert" of "Bert and Ernie" fame on "Sesame Street" - so he was "Evil Bert". And he certainly lived up to his name. He held this styrofoam bat in his hand, and as I walked around the room with Evil Bert on my hand, he kept hitting people with it. But was Evil Bert really the problem?

Wednesday, October 3, 2001

President Ronald Reagan found it out the hard way. He was preparing to do his regular Saturday morning radio address (which by the way, is live radio) - and he offhandedly made some joking comment about bombing the Russians. Unfortunately, that comment went out over the airwaves. Oops! See, he didn't know the microphones were on. Take it from me. I spend a lot of time in a radio studio. That's something very important when you're doing live radio - knowing when the microphone is on - or you can actually end up saying something that you really didn't mean for other people to hear.

Friday, September 21, 2001

It was the countdown week to the birth of our first grandson. And, as you might expect, there were some of those mother/daughter conversations about the experience of actually birthing this child you've carried for nine months. Unfortunately, I didn't think there was a lot I could contribute here, so I graciously left this to my wife. And while our daughter was still at home with some of those first contractions, I overheard my wife giving her some insight - the words of the veteran who's been there and knows what's ahead. She said, "You're going to reach a point where you'll feel like you just can't take it anymore. Hang on, honey. That's when the baby comes."

Thursday, September 6, 2001

Maybe it's because my father-in-law was a corrections officer for a while, and I've heard his stories about the wasted lives behind prison bars. But whatever the reason I've always admired the men who minister as prison Chaplains. It's tough ministry but it's ministry where it's desperately needed. I've got a new friend, Bill, and he works as a prison Chaplain and he recently told me about an incident that touched me when he told me and it continues to touch me. Bill had been visiting this cell block and he went out in the exercise yard for some fresh air, he said. There was this clean cut, young inmate who walked up to him and said, "Hey mister! Are you broke?" Well, Bill kinda' fished around in his pocket and didn't find any money in there and the inmate said, "It doesn't matter, your money is no good in here anyway. Are you broke?" Only this time the inmate had tears in his eyes. And then here's what he said, "Mister, don't try to minister to people in here if you ain't broke, cause we all are." Now, that's not just inside prison walls.

            

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Harrison, AR 72602-0400

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