Wednesday, August 11, 2004

A beard really changes people - especially men. You can make a man look older, scruffier, wiser, or more suspicious. A beard does amazing things. Some wives and girlfriends can't wait for the man to grow it. Others can't wait for him to shave it. My friend, Lou, spent much of his life clean-shaven. He also spent many of those same years as an alcoholic. They were terrible years for his wife and daughters. One day, Lou became so desperate that he surrendered the control of his out-of-control life to Jesus Christ. From that moment on, the Savior beat that bottle that had always beaten Lou, and right about then, he started to grow a beard. He's actually had it for several years, but a couple of years ago he decided to shave it one morning. He walked out to his family, and he said, "Hey, what do you think?" His little daughter began to cry. She begged her Daddy to grow his beard back. See, the old face made her think of her old Dad. She was afraid the old Dad was back.

Monday, August 9, 2004

Ever since I was little, I've been fascinated by the American Revolution. I always wanted to see Concord Bridge where it sort of all began. You know, the shot heard round the world? By the time I got there, I had two little boys of my own who weren't fascinated by the American Revolution. I wanted to spend a while at Concord Bridge, you know, imagining those Colonial farmers descending on the bridge and the Red Coats stepping up to the bridge in their rigid formation. Unfortunately, my sons weren't interested in any of that. I tried to tell them the story - well, no progress, you know, this is vacation. Who cares about history? Right? Finally, I had one last idea. I got tri-corn hats for them, and we got some sticks for them to use as muskets, and I made them the Americans and I played the Red Coats. (Well, the Red Coat.) They came charging across one side of Concord Bridge. I went running away from them; I eventually ended up fatally wounded! And when they were done, they said, "Let's do it again, Daddy." Of course - they won! They were interested, but not until they had a part.

Thursday, August 5, 2004

Caterpillars are, well, ugly. Butterflies are beautiful! I have known people with butterfly collections. I've never known anyone with a caterpillar collection, actually. My guess is that every caterpillar gets pretty fed up inching along instead of flying. They get fed up with being hairy and ugly instead of being colorful and eye-catching. But, fed up won't do it. The caterpillar actually has to get into this cocoon and get metamorphed. Now, it's a word that we have for that miraculous process. It means changing your form - metamorphosis - right? There's something for you in that cocoon, by the way, especially if you're tired of crawling spiritually or if your spiritual experience gets pretty hairy sometimes.

Tuesday, August 3, 2004

Building a fire is one of those things a man is just supposed to know how to do. I hate to have my fire fail in front of other people frankly, so I can really empathize with my friend Rich who set out to get a fire going one winter that I was with him. He was trying to get this thing going in his fireplace when we were with him one Sunday afternoon. So, of course, he did all the right things. He rolled up the necessary amount of newspaper. He stacked logs with plenty of room for air circulation. Now, he didn't have much kindling. That was the only weakness in his fire. Well, the fire flared, and then it sputtered, and then it smoldered. So real quick, he rolled up two or three tight paper logs, and a newspaper, and that didn't do anything. Then finally, he said, I thought it was kind of strange, but he said, "I've done all I can do. Only God can start it now." We talked for about an hour without a fire, and suddenly this little flame appeared. It grew steadily, it became a really cozy fire, and Rich and I just looked at each other and smiled!

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

I've been told that during World War II, (which, of course, I don't remember personally), that they gave American soldiers more than bullets just before they went into combat. They also gave them a chocolate bar. It makes sense, when you think about a sugar rush, when they need all the energy they could muster. So, maybe sugar's not all that bad. Of course, if you give it to a man just before he's about to go and lie on the couch for a hour - now that's bad. That's the funny thing about sugar. You eat it, you exercise - it's energy. You eat it and just lie there - it's fat.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

When I'm in a new city, I don't usually make visiting a local cemetery one of my sightseeing priorities. But I did during my recent ministry trip to Halifax, Nova Scotia. I visited the cemetery where 121 passengers of the doomed Titanic are buried; many with names still unknown. Not long after the midnight radio transmission, "Have struck iceberg," three telegraph cable repair ships were dispatched from Halifax to make the 500-mile trip to the collision site to pick up the bodies of victims. In a way, the aftermath of the sinking of the Titanic is a tale of two ships. One was the Carpathia, the ship that rescued hundreds who had made it into lifeboats, later taking them into New York Harbor. The Carpathia carried a ship full of rescued people. But not the Mackay Bennett, the first funeral ship to arrive at the scene of the sinking. All they found was 328 people, floating in their lifejackets, frozen to death. The first one they found was a little two-year-old boy, floating face up. They were devastated. By the time they sailed into Halifax Harbor with every church bell in town tolling, there were three long rows of bodies on their deck - every one a person who did not have to die. Those lifeboats had been half empty. But as the people in the water cried out for help, the people in the lifeboats just kept rowing away. So one ship carried those who had been rescued. The other ship carried those no one cared enough to rescue.

Monday, June 7, 2004

Wow! The world sure looks different on a foggy morning. I mean, the neighbor's houses aren't even there anymore, the hill I can see out the back door vanishes, and on the road, it's suddenly hard to find where you turn or to plan much beyond the car immediately in front of you. I remember one 40-car pileup that took place in our area because of dense fog. When it's foggy like that, it looks as if the world's going to be gray all day, but all day seldom lasts past, oh, 9:00 or 10:00 in the morning. Why? Well, the fog developed overnight when there was no sun to warm the air and evaporate all that moisture. Sometimes, when the fog gets thick, well, we just lose sight of the sun.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

I don't know if there was ever a time in our son's life when he checked the mailbox so many times. Now you're thinking "Oh, a letter from a girl, huh?" No, it was grades from college. See, this was during our son's last visit home when he was going to college, and the grades for the semester just completed were supposed to be mailed to him at home. Of course, I was thinking they should have been mailed to me, because they sure mail the bills to me! Well, it got a little frustrating and as he talked with all his college friends, because they, in other parts of the country, already had their grades. And every day that they didn't come, well, he got a little more frustrated. Now why was he so eager to get his grades? He had every reason to believe that he had done very well this time. And finally, they came. Best grades by far since he started college - he was on the Dean's List! High five's all around!

Monday, March 15, 2004

Some years ago, my wife got a very serious case of hepatitis. Later, the specialist told her that the battle for her liver was so acute he could hear the blood rushing to save it, "Just like Niagara Falls," he said. Thank God, she recovered fully with no trace today of that disease or any of its effects. But it took a while - seven months of bed rest. That was an interesting time for Daddy - suddenly known as Mr. Mom - and for our three children. Thankfully, our church brought dinner to our home almost every night. God bless them! It's a good thing. I mean, if it had been up to me to feed the kids, they probably would have been on the cover of something like World Vision magazine eventually. But as tough as it was, my wife said she had much to praise God for in her recovery from hepatitis. For one thing, no one could really look to her or count on her for seven months. Here's what she said about it: "God gave me the gift of cleansing my schedule!" He weeded out a lot that didn't matter after all and left only what did matter.

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

One of the great names for Jesus in the Bible is the "Lion of the Tribe of Judah." When noted author, C. S. Lewis, created a character to be his Christ-figure in his "Chronicles of Narnia" fantasies, he introduced us to Aslan, the lion-king of Narnia. In Lewis' enchanting books, Narnia is a land where the animals speak, where the forces of evil are strong, and where Aslan, though only seen on rare occasions, is the dominant figure. Lucy is one of the children who is transported to Narnia. In one of the later books in the Chronicles, Lucy is finally reunited with the Lion-King, Aslan. I'll let C. S. Lewis take it from here: "'Welcome child,' he said. Lucy said, 'Aslan, you're bigger.' And he answered, 'That is because you are older, little one.' 'Oh, not because you are?' Lucy said. 'Oh, I am not. But every year you grow, you will find me bigger.'"

            

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