It's the Christmas season, and everywhere you go these days you see those brown trucks-it's UPS running everywhere, delivering Christmas surprises to people. Those UPS drivers work really hard this time of year. I mean, they get a lot of long hours to get everything where it's supposed to be in time for Christmas. I expect they sleep pretty well at night. Even though they have a big job, at least they don't have to go out and buy all those packages. Their job is just to deliver what someone else has paid for.
It was one of the most compelling television documentaries I think I've seen. It aired on an anniversary of the September 11th attacks on the twin towers of the World Trade Center. The stories of rescuers and survivors, told first-person, literally took the viewer into what that day felt like for the people who really lived it. One story I just can't shake was told by this British young woman who worked in a brokerage firm high up in Tower Two. She recalled with remarkable composure the confusion in her office on whether or not to evacuate the building. She's alive today because she made the right decision. But many of her coworkers never made it out. She actually broke down for the first time as she talked about her good friend in the office. All she could say was, "I keep thinking, 'I should have asked him to go with me.' I can't get that out of my mind."
I was teaching at a national seminar on how to communicate an unchanging Christ in our rapidly changing culture. Well, at the end of a session, a pastor from Kentucky came up to tell me his story he thought really illustrated some of what I had been saying. He said, "When I was a young man, we used to have some big tent revivals in my community. Each night an invitation was given for folks to come forward if they wanted to be, well as this country preacher would always say, ‘borned again.'" The pastor went on to describe how some of the deacons would actually go out into the audience and go row-to-row, and shall we say they were "encourage" folks to make that choice. Near the back, one of the deacons came to a young man who gave him an honest and memorable response. The deacon said, "Son, do you want to be borned again?" To which the boy said, "No." The deacon pressed the point, "Why don't you want to be borned again?" The young man answered in all seriousness, "Cause I'm afraid this time I'd come out as a girl!"
They're just pieces of cardboard, but some of them are worth hundreds, even thousands of dollars. We call them baseball cards. Actually, our son got interested in them when he was a little guy, and pretty soon they became a pretty serious investment for him. He really knew how to, well like they say on Wall Street, buy low and sell high. Because he watched up-and-coming players, then he would get the rookie cards of some of those players who later became major stars, and there aren't many of those rookie cards out there. So they're rare and they're valuable. Lest we trivialize the baseball card business, I want you to realize that it helped pay a significant part of our son's way through college. I remember when he told me as a teenager, "Dad, I know my room is a mess, but there's one thing I take care of-my baseball cards." That's true! His valuable ones were neatly organized in these plastic folders in these carefully guarded notebooks. And the reason most of those cards were high value was very simple. You know. They were rare!
Jeremy was a young man who worked in our office every year after he got out of college, and then he became a veteran of our On Eagles' Wings Native American team. But something was different this particular year for him - a woman! Yes, a woman in Jeremy's life! And, believe me, it was no secret. He started telling us all about her as soon as we saw him again. The romance had just developed in the weeks preceding, and there was nothing he would rather talk about. She lived quite a ways from where we were, and the more he talked about her, the more he wanted to be with her. At first I was kind of amused by this young love, until I remembered that was me not so many years ago, telling anyone who would listen about the woman I loved. By the way, I still like to talk about her - I do.
O.K., let's put away all the junk food snacks for a minute and reach for a healthy snack today. Yes, it's time for some fresh fruit. It could be an apple, an orange, a pear, but the next time you eat one, would you look for the example on the inside? There is one. Oh, I wouldn't recommend you eat that entire apple; you'll probably want to stop when you get to the core. But notice what's there in the middle of that apple. Yep, seeds that can make another apple!
She was one of the most admired women in the world-Mother Teresa, that angelic woman who devoted her life to the least of the least in the slums of Calcutta, India. The world's greatest leaders wanted to meet her and to experience her love and her moral authority. And actually, she was just a diminutive woman who made such a difference in the world. Some years ago, a young man wrote a letter to Mother Teresa, asking her how he could make his life count as she had with hers. He waited six months for a reply from this very busy lady. When it came, it was just a postcard with just four words on it-four very powerful words-"Find your own Calcutta."
I've only been to Israel once, and just for a short visit, but I will never forget the thrill of seeing those places where Jesus walked when He was there, and watching all those names and places in the Bible suddenly come alive. It really was one of the highlights of my life, I'll tell you, except for one thing. I went alone, on my way back home from a ministry trip to Africa. As I stood on the Mount of Olives, and as I walked the streets of old Jerusalem, as I experienced the feel of Capernaum and the Sea of Galilee, you know what I kept thinking? "I want my wife to see all of this. I want to experience this with my kids!" Yes, Israel was terrific, but I really wanted to share it with the people I love.
Somehow the driver lost control on a small California bridge. In an instant, the car with a family of four in it catapulted through the railing and into the water. Immediately, that car, of course, began to disappear beneath the water. There was this frantic moment that followed, and the two parents emerged from the car, and they were able to swim to the top. Mom had actually been able to free one of her children and help her get out, but their little boy was trapped in the car at the bottom. Meanwhile, a few passersby had gathered on the bridge above, and one man, who heard the mother's screams for help for her son, dove from that bridge and into the water. A nurse was actually one of those who happened to be on the bridge that day. Realizing that the boy was going to need immediate CPR if he was rescued, she shook off her fear and she also plunged into the water. After a short time, the man surfaced-carrying that boy with him. The nurse immediately began working on him, right there in the water. His life was saved that day by two people who certainly had not planned to rescue anyone that day.
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 his 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."