Playing his first high school football game - that was our son's dream since first grade! And the day finally came! His first freshman game was an away game. And let me tell you, at freshman games the parental attendance was underwhelming to say the least.
Our daughter was just eight years old when we left her at a summer camp for the first time. That's kind of a milestone for the child and the parent. But our daughter was really excited. I guess it's the parents that have a little harder time letting go. But a beautiful island, Camp Tapawingo, is on an island in the middle of an Adirondack lake only accessible by boat. So as this boat pulls away, it really underscores the reality that you are leaving this girl. But to be honest with you, it wasn't all that tough.
It was the night before Thanksgiving. Boy, the Hutchcraft house was a very busy place! We were cleaning house like crazy. Everybody — I mean all five of us were cleaning house. We were decorating the house for the holiday weekend, hustling around getting ready to go get Grandma at the airport, a couple of folks in the kitchen working on some of the elements of dinner tomorrow, including my mincemeat pie. I'm the only one who will eat it and that's great!
He might be America's most famous bear - Smokey! Maybe you can picture Smokey Bear right there in his blue jeans and his Park Ranger hat. He's probably holding a shovel or he's looking straight at you very soberly. And he's saying, "Only you can prevent forest fires." Actually Smokey has been a pretty effective spokesman, especially if we can think of his big line as soon as we think of him. Oh we'll never know how many fires he's prevented, but he's drilled one very important idea into our heads. Take care of your fire; it could do terrible damage.
My wife and I were staying in this apartment at the Jersey shore for a weekend. We were going to save some money by cooking for ourselves. But, there was one small problem with the kitchen. We discovered it the first morning. We had this English muffin in the toaster. Suddenly I hear this high-pitched alarm in the kitchen. I went running out there. The smoke detector had gone off. Problem: There was no smoke, just a little English muffin cooking. It was just a little heat coming from across the room from the toaster. Oh, we got to hear that smoke alarm again several times while we were there. It was a very sensitive alarm. And the problem is because it would go off so often, guess what? Pretty soon you don't take it seriously any more.
You've probably been speeding down the highway as I have at times, and all of a sudden you'll come to a construction area that says, "Slow down-35 mph." So everyone, of course, slows down by two or three miles an hour. They're down to 57 mph or something like that. And then you'll see as you get a little more into the construction area these words, "Be prepared to stop." Well, I don't want to be prepared to stop. I don't know if you're like me, but I calculate how many miles I've got to go, how long it's going to take. Let's see, "Sixty miles – sixty minutes." Something like that. I don't want to be prepared to stop. I'm prepared to do the speed limit. You know, sometimes we live our whole lives that way. We're speeding too fast to stop.
So this friend of mine pulled out his wallet and said, "Ron, can I show you my pride and joy?" And he did. There was a picture of a little dusting compound called Pride and a dish washing detergent called Joy. So, here were these two household items. I was fully expecting to see his children, but then, of course, I have strange friends.
My wife is one of the most generous people I know. We've never had a whole lot to spend on gifts, but somehow she usually finds a way to give them. Over the years God has blessed us with some friends who have been very generous with us. They have invited us to get away to their cabin or their cottage or their farm. I can remember occasions where I've been all packed and ready to go and anxious to leave, and my wife hasn't come out yet. I'll go back inside and I'll say, "Honey, what are you doing?" You know where she is? She's rummaging through her gift box or her gift closet, and she'll say, "Wait a minute, Honey, I'm looking for a gift."
It's a bitter wound! I was undefeated in Scrabble until my son beat me at the age of 13. It was down to the end of the game, there were no letters left to draw and I was about to be stuck with a Z. Now, if you've ever played Scrabble, you know that a Z is worth 10 points if you can play it. You lose 10 points if you're stuck with it at the end of the game. Okay, this is heavy pressure. Finally I found one corner of the board that had the letters I and T and there was room for a Z. I suddenly remembered that slightly uncouth slang term the teenagers use for blemishes. I used my Z to spell zit. I've often heard kids complain about zits.
I wonder what the question most asked by Christian teenagers is? I don't have any formal research to report to you today, but I have been listening to teenagers for a lot of years, and a lot has changed over those years. But I'm not sure the big question they have has. It was and continues to be, I think the most asked. It's not, "How do I have better devotions?" Or, "How can I serve the Lord?" It's, "How far can I go?" Wish I'd have a dollar for every time I've been asked that question. And they're not talking about driving privileges when they ask that question. How far can I go? Actually, long after our dating years are over, you know, that still seems to be the question we're dealing with. That's too bad.