Thursday, November 29, 2001

Maybe you've seen those old world maps that were created when a lot of the world was still unexplored. When they reached the edge of what had been explored, they drew a line and they showed dragons and monsters beyond it--which didn't exactly encourage exploration. The story is told of a first century Roman commander who had to lead his troops beyond the line on the map and into "dragon" territory. He sent a courier back to Rome with a straightforward message - "We have just marched off the map! Please send new orders!"

Tuesday, November 20, 2001

It was a fogged-in morning at the country house we were using for our vacation. The valley below us, the mountains beyond us were nowhere to be seen. In fact, you couldn't see much beyond the front porch. But by about 10:00 A. M., the sun was obviously doing its thing. I could sit there and literally watch the mist being sucked upward and up and away by the heat of the sun. I called my wife's attention to the vanishing moisture, and she made an interesting observation. She said, "That's what happens to you when you dehydrate" - which I did a few months ago. But actually watching the moisture being sucked away - and thinking of that happening to me - well, it will make a fellow be sure he's got a bottle of water with him most of the time.

Friday, October 26, 2001

It was one of those real short nights. I had just spoken for a large youth event, and the night went late for the best of reasons: God brought hundreds of young people to faith in Christ that night. The counseling of all those kids took a blessedly long time. Now Jason, who was one of the organizers, took me to my hotel that night and told me he would be picking me up in a few hours for my very early morning flight. I said, "I'm sorry you have to get me so early when you've been up so late." He said, "Oh, don't worry. I'll just roll out of bed, throw on a baseball cap, and come on over." Well, bless his heart, that's just what he did. When we got to the airport, I asked him if we could pray together before I went on my plane. He respectfully took off his baseball cap, and we had a neat time of prayer. When I opened my eyes at the end, he still had his cap off. And a very creative hair style--I mean, it was all over the place! He even laughed about it. The cap covered what he didn't want anyone to see--except when he was praying.

Wednesday, October 24, 2001

It sounded like strange justice. I heard about a judge who sentenced a juvenile offender to, among other things, go watch a movie. The movie was called, "Saving Private Ryan"--a movie that critics say portrayed with savage realism the D-Day Invasion and the awful brutality of war. The judge wanted that juvenile offender to see what his freedom cost the people who fought for it.

The movie also introduced a new generation to that amazing invasion that was the turning point of World War II. The mission: retake Europe from the grip of Adolf Hitler. Now how did they capture something as big as Europe? By just dropping paratroopers in the middle and saying, "We are taking Europe!"? No-o-o-o. That's what D-Day was all about--tens of thousands of Allied soldiers putting everything they had into capturing one little beach on the coast of France. That's a long way from Berlin, but it's what the military calls a beachhead - a small piece of ground that you get under control. Then you move from that to another small victory and another beachhead. So the heroes of D-Day moved from that beach to take a farm, and then a bridge, and then a village and then another village. Until one day they marched into Berlin. They had conquered all that ground - not in one blazing victory - but one beachhead at a time.

Tuesday, October 23, 2001

John and Becky were gone when this huge windstorm hit their neighborhood recently. Although no one could be sure a tornado was involved, the winds were clocked at 70 miles an hour. John and Becky told me that when they returned later that day, their street was closed. A huge pine tree had been blown down, and it fell right across the road. Now other kinds of trees had lost some branches, but the wind had actually totally uprooted this evergreen. Well, a neighbor explained to John that it really isn't that hard to uproot a pine tree - no matter how big it is. Because even though it's a big tree, it has shallow roots - so it's relatively easy to bring it down.

Monday, September 10, 2001

One of the great privileges of my life was serving in the leadership of the Northern New Jersey Billy Graham Crusade in the Meadowlands. For many of us who had been trying to reach people in this very hard corner of America, it was thrilling to see that arena nearly full on that opening Wednesday night. The arena seats 18,000 people, and filling it in Jesus' name was a victory of historic proportions. By Thursday, it was totally full--but I was strangely restless. By faith, we had set up 8,000 chairs and jumbo-tron video screen in the parking lot, just in case there was overflow. It looked like we wouldn't need it - as the press so graciously reminded us. Even though we were seeing unprecedented attendances and spiritual harvests, I felt led to pull together several of our Crusade leaders after the second night. After thanking God for all He had done, I asked them to pray with me a prayer that I had never prayed before. "Lord, if anyone other than You is holding a lid on this thing, if there's even more You want to do - blow the lid off!"

The next night the arena filled pretty quickly. I was on the platform, seated next to Dr. Graham, when they handed him a note. He showed it to me. It said, "There are 13,000 in overflow!" Dr. Graham said, "I think you should go see it." Well, I did. And what a sight! Eight thousand chairs full, 5,000 people standing, sitting on car hoods, on the ground, even on the porta-johns...and Billy Graham preaching the Gospel on the big screen! It looked like a cross between the feeding of the 5,000 and a drive-in movie. And the rate of response that night was higher in the parking lot than it even was indoors! So much for that lid!

Monday, September 3, 2001

My wife was waking up to a sound she hadn't heard before - and she couldn't identify. It sounded like crinkling cellophane - and it was coming from inside our bedroom walls! Now, somehow I missed this little symphony, but she sure picked up on it. Since we were pretty sure no one was actually crinkling cellophane in our walls, we looked into other possibilities. Like carpenter ants, for example. And sure enough, that's what it was! Those little marauders were feasting on the wood in our house...and they were gradually eating our home! We didn't even have to think about what to do. "Hello, Mr. Exterminator?"

Tuesday, August 21, 2001

After our grandson was born, he wore these cute little mittens much of the time. No, it was not freezing cold in his house. It's just that he had these long fingernails - and since he wasn't very good at aiming his hands, he kept scratching his face with those nails. But in an early visit to the pediatrician, she recommended that the gloves come off. "Try to keep his nails trimmed," is what she said, "but even if you can't, it's better for him to have his hands uncovered." Then she said something that was news to me - "We've learned that when an infant can feel and touch things, their brain cells grow!"

Friday, August 17, 2001

Not long ago I got to take one of my favorite East Coast walks. You know, growing up in Illinois, I didn't know much about the ocean. So when we moved to New Jersey, I quickly developed a pretty deep love for the ocean. So it's no surprise that Ocean City is one of my favorite places to go, right? And I love to walk out on one of the long, rock jetties that reach out into the sea from the beach. I really love it at high tide when the surf is crashing in around those rocks. When you see some of those monster waves surging toward those rocks, it looks like there's going to be a classic confrontation between the irresistible force (the ocean) and the immovable object (the rocks). Well, I'll tell you, the ocean sure overwhelms everything else in its way. But every time those rocks I stand on meet the mighty power of the sea, the winner is always the same. The wave is shattered. The rock remains.

Tuesday, August 7, 2001

When I'm on the road and staying in a motel, I'm often leaving early for that day's responsibilities. But by the time I return late that night, something amazing has happened. The bed is made! I have new, clean towels! Everything is straightened and neat. I even have new little soaps in the bathroom! The Room Fairy has been there! Now, I know that not because I've seen the maid (I haven't), but because I can see the results of her work all over the place.

            

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Harrison, AR 72602-0400

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