Wednesday, January 7, 2004

We tend to know the TV shows that were big when our children were growing up. So, I happen to know something about a program called "The A-Team." Our guys had a must-not-miss date each week with Hannibal Smith and B. A. Baracus, and the rest of this team of fugitive Vietnam vets who took on the causes of people victimized by the bad guys. The basic plot of each show was fairly predictable - bad guys pick on person, person hires A-Team, bad guys are about to win, A-Team comes up with a brilliant, and usually unlikely, plan, A-Team wins. These elaborate plans were hatched by the leader of the team - Col. Hannibal Smith. And he never seemed to tell anybody, including his team, why he was doing what he was doing, or asking them to do. But at the end, when the strategy finally unfolded victoriously, Hannibal would always smile and say those trademark words, "I love it when a plan comes together."

Tuesday, December 30, 2003

So how much would you pay for a piece of cardboard - $100, $500, $2,000? Actually, people do it all the time, if that cardboard is a valuable baseball card. Now, my sons have really profited from collecting that cardboard strategically. They tried to anticipate rookies who would be stars and bought their cards before there was much demand. Later, when lots of people wanted those cards and there weren't many to be found, our guys cleaned up. Our oldest son did so well that his cards actually helped pay his way through college. He didn't have any of those cards that sell for thousands. They're most valuable for one reason. There just aren't many of them. You have something like that.

Friday, December 19, 2003

It's time to wash the bathrobes again - for the boys to wear in the Christmas pageant. Like thousands of boys at Christmastime, I, too, was drafted into being one of those shepherds. I'm not sure my bathrobe got washed any other time of the year actually. Not to be petty, but I always thought the guys playing the wise men had a better deal. They got to wear some fancy clothes, and they had something to give to Baby Jesus when they came - I think we used to call it gold, frankenstein, and myyrh. But not us shepherds. Oh, no! Since the Bible doesn't describe any specific gift the shepherds brought, we came empty handed. I thought we looked a little cheap. But I've learned something since then.

Thursday, November 20, 2003

Actor Mel Gibson's movie, "The Passion," has broken new ground for Hollywood - and triggered a firestorm of controversy. "The Passion" tells the story of the day of Jesus' death with an attempt at Biblical accuracy that is seemingly unprecedented in movie-making history. The dialog is even spoken in the languages spoken at that time. And the portrayal of the crucifixion of Christ is said to be intensely realistic, following as closely as possible the Bible's description of what happened that day on a place called Skull Hill. The controversy revolves around the portrayal of the role of the Jewish leaders on that day in conspiring to have Jesus crucified by the Romans and their statement inviting His blood to be "upon us and our children." So, for centuries, Jews have been wrongly persecuted as "Christ-killers," allegedly guilty of "deicide." What a tragic mistake! The truth of why Jesus died so brutally on that cross is far more shocking.

Thursday, November 13, 2003

The day is about to end. I invite my wife to go for a romantic walk with me as we look toward the West at the beautiful colors of the - well, you'll probably say sunset, right? And so would I. But we would be scientifically incorrect. Since when does the sun set? The sun doesn't go anywhere; it's the earth that's moving! So, "Honey, let's go for a romantic walk and watch the beautiful ... earth set?" No, I don't think so! Well, actually, the American Scientific Association discovered in a survey that 21% of the Americans they asked thought the sun orbited around the earth, and 7% didn't know! That's almost one out of three Americans who's confused about what is revolving around what!

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Well, I'm not much of photographer, but I'm married to one. So, a few years ago I was able to open doors to minister to our local football team by being on the sidelines and shooting slides of them in action. Now, my wife gave me this crash course in photography, and one thing I had to learn fast was how to focus my lens. See, I was shooting from all different angles, all different distances. If I said, "Well, I'll just focus my lens on this first photo, and then I'll leave it like that," I would have had a pile of blurry pictures and not many friends on the football team. See, the picture kept changing, and I had to constantly refocus for each new situation.

Monday, November 3, 2003

Missionary pilots are my personal heroes - especially since the incredible job they did moving our Native American team across Alaska recently. Often there really wasn't much of a runway to land on or good weather to fly in, but they always got us there safely. Now, on one flight, I was in the co-pilot seat in our little six-seater aircraft, and our pilot, Gary, was flying us to a Yukon River village through some low visibility, low ceilings - just generally lousy weather. And as we neared our destination, he said, "I hate this part. We're in the dead zone." Now "dead zone" isn't exactly what I want to hear from a pilot when I'm flying with him, so I asked Gary what he meant by that. He described that part of a flight where you cannot communicate with the tower or with any other aircraft. You're kind of all alone. It doesn't last long, he explained, but if you're in trouble or you're going down, nobody knows. It's a lonely stretch. Well, after a couple more minutes, Gary broke into a big smile and he said, "Good. We're back." I smiled, too.

Friday, October 24, 2003

The first hijackers I remember in the headlines were terrorists who kidnapped airplanes and their passengers and released them if and when their demands were met. But since the events of September 11, 2001, the word "hijacker" has taken on a new and more deadly significance. Now we know it can mean someone who takes over a plane and its passengers with the intent of using that plane as a deadly weapon. On a smaller scale, some of our big cities have had to deal with the relatively new threat of carjacking, where a criminal forcibly takes over the car of some unfortunate driver. I think most of us would agree, hijacking in any form is wrong, and it should be punished with serious penalties.

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

It drove our kids crazy. In the countdown to Christmas, the basement door had a sign on it, banning our children from going down there. And every night, Mommy and Daddy would disappear downstairs. And, off and on, the kids would hear hammering sounds in the basement. They knew some kind of "Christmas business" was going on, but they didn't know what. The first year, the surprise turned out to be a doll house that our daughter discovered on Christmas morning under the tree. We'd built it for her. The next year, same scenario - closed basement, vanished parents, building sounds. Man, did they bug us, wanting to come down there, wanting to know what was going on. Hey, not until Christmas, kids. That's when our oldest son got the barn that we had built for him. Following year - they were frustrated again by the waiting and the not knowing. And on Christmas morning, our youngest son got his general store. They loved - and still love - what we made for them. But the waiting drove them crazy!

Thursday, September 25, 2003

We met Dan and Rita and their dog when we took our Native American team to a reservation in South Dakota. They live in this dusty little village, doing their best to make a difference for the people there. They have this little dog named Gal. Now most dogs are pretty aggressive in meeting strangers - they come right up to you, even on you. But not Gal. She retreats when she sees people. She cowers, she trembles. Dan and Rita explained why. Their dog had been severely abused by several previous owners before they got her. So she has a hard time trusting even people who want to treat her right, but she's missing a lot of loving that way.

            

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Harrison, AR 72602-0400

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