My mother wrote a prayer for me called “Build Me a Son.” It is a prayer that still inspires me and one that God honors. On July 12,2013, our grandson Jadon celebrated his first birthday. Kathleen and I are grateful that our children love God and that our daughter Sarah and son-in-law Mark will share His love with their son. While the family gathered in Bend to celebrate this milestone, I missed Jadon’s birthday because of Army duty. Ironically, I am in the place where I was born, Colorado Springs. So by the Rocky Mountains I reach to heaven with this new prayer of blessing.
Every evening at sundown, 78 year-old Don Brittain stands on his back porch, places his trumpet on his lips, and plays Taps. At the first sound of the 24 notes his neighbors stop what they are doing and walk outside to stand at attention. Most of them have never served in the military. Nor has Don who suffered polio as a child. Yet, like this aerospace worker who chooses to honor our military veterans, they are gripped and inspired by the solemn music he so carefully plays. And as much as his ritual is for the military, it is also for his neighbors. Lyle shared reporter Steve Hartman’s story with me and you can view and listen as well if you go to
Acts 2:36,37—“Therefore let all the house of Israel know with certainty that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah!” When they heard this, they came under deep conviction and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles: “Brothers, what must we do?”
Roman Catholic monk Girolamo Savonarola, (September 21, 1452 – May 23, 1498), was shocked by the immorality in Italy and by the corruption he observed within the church. As a teenager, he walked beside the River Po where he sang to God and wept over the condition of the people. At the age of 22, he wrote “Contempt of the World,” comparing the sins of his time to Sodom and Gomorrah. Years later, while praying, the Holy Spirit gave him a vision in which he was told to announce to the people that hard times were coming to the church.
Coffee Cottage is a popular coffee shop near George Fox University. One of their favorite draws for students is the free wireless service. Often I come in to find many tables occupied with folks writing papers or working projects on their laptops. But unless a person knew that wireless was free and available, they could work on their computer and have no idea they could access internet connection capability simply by asking for the password.
Joan did everything they asked her. She studied the courses her managers recommended she take. She volunteered for the hard jobs and endured great stress because her leaders believed in her. She won awards for her speaking skills and was recognized by her peers as a superior performer with dynamic people skills. Besides loyalty to her organization, Joan invested much personal time and resources to make the company’s work environment better. When it finally came time for a new human resources manager to be hired, she was sure the company would promote her to the position. But Joan didn’t know that one of the applicants was the owner’s niece.
On the plane from Atlanta to Portland, I sat next to a salesman and a lawyer. We had a great time sharing stories, food and funny video clips during our five hour flight. Matt shared with us that he was headed to Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho to compete in the Ironman competition. On Sunday, his goal is to swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles and run 26.2 miles in 12 hours! We pumped him with questions and he shared his training regimen, thrills and spills in past competitions. And then he told us the secret to his perseverance.
Day one: Piles of dirt, stacks of tree limbs and lots of pickup trucks, cars and tractors. Men are standing around drinking coffee and talking. Day two: see day one. Day three: see day one. Day twelve? For the first time I see trenches dug and fresh gravel heaps. For all the men and equipment, it does not seem like much has happened on this city project.
I suppose if I were to go away on an extended trip and return, the differences on that lot I prayer walk past would be significant. I know (by faith) that by the end of summer a beautifully constructed park will occupy what now looks like mere mound shifting.
In Chimpembelle Village, Zambia, Onedy Kalimina’s uncle died. When the Head Man dies, one of his relatives on the mother’s side is chosen to replace him. As it happened, the 22 year-old Kalimina was chosen. He was taken to the village witch doctor who prepared a charm called Chitumya. Then he was asked to kneel down and pray “Chitumya come into me and I come into you.” After praying this, Kalimina took a ceremonial bath and put on an arm band for protection that no one else was ever to see. This occurred in 1990.
David Ole Kereto was born in Narok, Kenya, the Maasai son of a witch doctor. By tradition he was expected to follow in his father’s footsteps. One of the highest honors for a Maasai male is to become a warrior. To achieve warrior status, one must kill a lion or a man. To kill a lion, tribesmen will surround the big cat and agitate it by shouting. One of the men then steps forward making himself a target. He holds a spear in his right hand and a stick sharpened to a point on both ends in the other hand. When the lion attacks it usually lunges for the spear hand. Just as it leaps, the Maasai shifts the stick to his right hand and as the lion opens its mouth he thrusts it between its jaws. David accomplished this at age 15 thereby becoming a Maasai warrior!
The angel, Gabriel, clearly told Zechariah that his wife Elizabeth would have a child and they were to call him “John” (Luke 1:13). Nine months later, elderly Elizabeth miraculously conceived this special baby and the neighbors and relatives gathered to celebrate his circumcision and to give him his name. According to well-established custom they assumed he would take the name of his priestly father.
Nicolo Paganini, (1782-1840), ranks as one of the greatest violinists of all time. One night while playing a difficult piece of music a string on his violin snapped and hung down from his violin. Surrounded by the orchestra he continued to play. Then a second string broke. Still, this clever musician improvised and continued playing. A third string snapped forever worthless. Undaunted, Paganini played magnificently on the one remaining string before a stunned crowd. When he finished they jumped to their feet screaming and cheering “Bravo! Bravo!” Paganini waited until the noise abated then as everyone sat back down he raised his violin high for everyone to see. The violinist nodded to the conductor to begin the encore. He placed the single-stringed Stradivarius beneath his chin and played one final piece. Can you imagine the buzz of that crowd as they returned home from that concert?!
Turn on the television these days and you’re likely to see a “reality” program. Spawned by the show Survivor, Hollywood churns out Fear Factor, Temptation Island, the Bachelor, etc., in ever-increasing bizarreness to titillate our senses. But these shows have little to do with reality, they are all about the pursuit of thrills. A bored nation craves standing on the edge of immoral precipices. It’s not enough to know someone is inebriated, now viewers must see vomiting—as if such disgusting behavior will in some way rivet more eyes to the box of shame.
It was a bright and hot Saturday outside Palm Springs as my family wandered through the Living Desert. Inside one of the exhibits we encountered a fascinating tunnel system full of Heterocephalus glabers—naked mole rats. These pale rodents are the only known mammals that live in a eusocial (truly social) system. All members of the group huddle together when sleeping in colonies that may consist of 20-300 creatures. Like bees, ants and termites, naked mole rats divide into classes of hierarchy. First in order is the dominant queen who may have up to five litters in a year with 1-27 newborns. Next, there are one to three breeding males followed by two to three soldiers who protect and care for the colony. Finally, there are many workers. These asexual workers exist to dig the tunnels and find food. A mole rat can live 15-20 years in captivity and has the strongest jaw muscles for a mammal its size.
Our neighbors have a new puppy, Sadie. She is a lovable Pit Bull full of energy and eager for attention. To keep her from getting lost or running away, it was necessary to finish fencing in their yard. So, with help from family members, holes were dug, cement was poured, and metal posts for a chain-link fence were sealed into the ground. That fence is not going anywhere; Sadie is quite secure.
He humbly sits at our head table in his Dress Greens. Around his neck a blue ribbon holds a precious five pointed star that symbolizes the highest award for valor in combat action a soldier can earn. We admire this World War II veteran and he seems genuinely touched that we have made him an honorary member of our battalion.
Driving down the road on the back of a motorcycle in India is an experience any thrill-seeker would love. Picture weaving through vehicles and pedestrians on narrow, worn roads where there is almost no margin for driver error. Fortunately, I was seated behind Dr. Kester Frederick, the only driver among hundreds with a helmet on.
In 1937, Pastor Rubio Beltazar challenged young men in his church to take missions seriously. The Holy Spirit used his words particularly to inspire Juan Cueva with the task of taking the gospel to the world.
Professor Howard Hendricks once related a story of how as a student he often walked by the home of one of his college professors. It seemed at all hours day or night the light would be on in the man’s study. One day he had the opportunity to ask him what kept him studying so much. The teacher replied, “Son, I would rather have my students drink from a running stream than a stagnant pool.”
While Kathleen was talking to me in my office, Stephen came running in and said a man at the door wanted to see one of us. We hadn’t heard the doorbell and to keep him from waiting long I hurried. It was a deliveryman from UPS. He asked me to sign for a large box and then went back to his truck to pick up an even larger one. As he returned to his vehicle, I said to my wife, “I think I will put these in the garage.” Almost to his truck, the deliveryman turned around and asked if he could carry them for me.