Every year as the President of the United States delivers his State of the Union Address, he introduces some everyday heroes in the balcony who embodies a point he's making. Actually, that custom began the night President Reagan introduced a man named Lenny Skutnik. To this day, reporters ask Presidential aides, "Who are the 'Skutniks' this year?'" Lenny Skutnik was one of thousands of Federal workers in Washington, D.C. - until the day Air Florida's Flight 90 crashed into the Potomac River.

As a kid, I often rode my bike up to the old theater on 79th Street for the Saturday afternoon flick. But this day was different. They handed me this strange-looking pair of glasses, made of cardboard with tinted plastic lenses. Those goofy-looking glasses opened up a whole new world where the events in a movie no longer just stayed flat on the screen - they leaped off the screen and right into your face - in 3-D!

I got a wonderful letter the other day from Mike, who was a teenager in one of my Campus Life Clubs a looong time ago. He was reflecting on those high school years and his summer job as a lifeguard. Let me just quote from his letter: "Lotsa city folk who couldn't swim came out to our beach, and we went in many, many times for them. I was paranoid that I would lose someone on my watch and we never did." Then he went on to describe another nearby beach as a place "where suburban-trained swimmers go. They did lose a child when no one else was looking."

Not long ago, I got a wonderful - and unusual - invitation. Gail, one of our ministry's most dedicated volunteers, recently invited us to attend her baptism. Now Gail has known and served Jesus for many years, but somehow she has never followed her Lord in His example of being baptized. Part of that might be because she has always felt very self-conscious about being in front of a group of people. But when she felt her Lord's urging to take this step, she went for it. It was in a church that baptizes by immersion, and she was one of several who were baptized that day. Each one was asked if they had accepted Christ as their personal Savior. They all said yes, but you couldn't hear most of them very well. But Gail was loud and strong in her "Yes, I have!" It was a beautiful moment when, after all these years, she was lowered into those baptismal waters. Several days later, she was back in our office working - and carrying a white handkerchief in her hand. She told me that was the handkerchief she used to cover her nose and mouth when she was baptized. Then she waved it gently and then added a touching "P.S." She said, "This is my surrender flag."

There are two words that will inevitably cause a look of excitement to appear on any face in our family - Ocean City. That's the name of this charming town on the Jersey shore where our family has made a lot of memories over the years. Not long ago, several of us rendezvoused there for a couple of days of time together and making a few more memories. As I was riding my bike along the boardwalk there, I passed some Herculean young men, jogging the boards. Their shirts had four letters on them: OCBP. That's Ocean City Beach Patrol. Actually, they recently celebrated their centennial - not the young joggers, but the Beach Patrol itself. A century ago, as Ocean City was becoming a tourist mecca, the number of drownings began to increase. So, the Beach Patrol was formed. They have a record to be proud of. In 100 years, they have never lost anyone at a guarded beach. Now I do remember a time some years ago when a young Amish woman drowned in the Atlantic Ocean, but that was on an unguarded beach.

Millions of Americans visit the emergency room once a week - on television, that is. The blockbuster TV hit, "E.R.," very convincingly takes its viewers into the tension and crisis environment of a hospital emergency room. They make you feel like you're there. Of course, they're not the only medical personnel involved in crisis care situation. I was reminded of that the other day on the interstate as this ambulance passed us. Of course, the back has those big red letters - "ambulance." But this particular ambulance had sort of a subtitle - one that raised my eyebrows and made me smile. The whole sign on the back said, "Ambulance - the real emergency room."

It's a huge job to try to keep the roadside by interstates and major highways from looking like garbage dumps. But somebody had this great idea: have clubs, and churches, and schools, and civic organizations volunteer to maintain just one mile of the road near them. You've probably seen the signs - "This mile maintained by the Forest Grove Garden Club," or a Boy Scout troop, or by the Busy Hands Presbybaptist Church, or even a family. Now no one of those groups could ever maintain say the entire roadside in their county - but they can do a mile. And if each group makes sure their mile is covered, the whole area will end up looking a whole lot better.

Several years ago it was my privilege to be a part of Billy Graham's Congress on Evangelism in Amsterdam, in the Netherlands. After several days packed with these challenging sessions, the 10,000 evangelists there spent one entire afternoon in what was called a Day of Witness. We were given these box lunches and sent across Holland that day to do evangelism in scores of places. And I was asked to be the bus captain for our 40 or so evangelists. Now when I mentioned those lunches to Richard, our bus driver, he was not a happy camper. He didn't seem particularly sympathetic with what we were going out to do - and he sure wasn't going to allow those lunches on his bus. He said, I always end up cleaning up a busful of garbage. The only way we ever got out of the parking lot that day was that I pledged to clean the bus myself.

Ian is an amazing man. If you only know the public Ian, the private Ian is going to shock you. If you only know the private Ian, the public Ian is going to shock you. He's a friend of mine who has been the leader of Youth for Christ's highly effective ministry in New Zealand. As you converse with him, you quickly learn that Ian has a stutter - which sometimes makes it difficult just for him to complete a sentence. While it's noticeable, it's not important. Ian is a godly, magnetic person. But then when you see him in action before a crowd - as I did at a national youth convention with 3,000 teenagers - well, prepare for a shock. I felt bad, wondering how he would communicate effectively to all those kids with that stutter. To my amazement, I discovered there suddenly was no stutter. His speech was perfect, and he emceed and preached flawlessly. That's what's so amazing about Ian - something happens to him when he has to speak well. And to you.

When you grow up in the city like I did, your neighborhood usually has a neighborhood bully. Ours did. His name? Boomer! I don't know if he was born with that name or if he earned that name. All I know is that for the little kids on our block, Boomer was like the original terrorist. He would beat us up for nothing, he'd take our stuff, and generally intimidate us. But one day I got tired of it - he had taken my White Sox cap. Sure, I was just a little guy. Sure, I was no match for him. But I walked boldly down our street to where no kid dared to go - to the corner apartment building where Boomer lived. I went to the back porch, knocked on the door, and asked for my hat back. You say, "My, what a brave little boy." There is one detail I left out - my father went with me. And that made all the difference. See, Boomer was bigger than I was. But my father was bigger than Boomer was!

            

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Ron Hutchcraft Ministries
P.O. Box 400
Harrison, AR 72602-0400

(870) 741-3300
(877) 741-1200 (toll-free)
(870) 741-3400 (fax)

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