Saturday, May 23, 2009


The Beauty of the Big Sur

One of the most beautiful drives I have ever driven was California's scenic Highway 1 through the Big Sur region. A number of times I had speaking engagements in the San Francisco area and would travel to view this area always to our delight.

The northern end of Big Sur is about 120 miles south of San Francisco, and the southern end is approximately 245 miles northwest of Los Angeles.

Usually we would stay in Monterey, which was the capital when it was the Spanish colony of Alta California; or Carmel-on-the-Sea, so we would have more daylight for the outstanding beauty.

Big Sur is a sparsely populated region where the Santa Lucia Mountains rise abruptly from the Pacific Ocean. The name "Big Sur" is derived from the Spanish-language "el paĆ­s grande del sur", "the big country of the south". Between 10 miles south of Carmel and 30 miles north San Simeon on Highway One, for about 50 miles, the Santa Lucia range plunges directly into the Pacific. Waves pound big boulders offshore. Big Sur's Cone Peak is the highest coastal mountain in the lower 48 states, ascending nearly a mile above sea level, only three miles from the ocean.

One of the most photographed bridges on this route is the famous Bixby Bridge. Going south after crossing the bridge, you have an overlook that pushes out into the ocean allowing you to look back from a higher level in an angle to gain a marvelous view of it. This is just one of the many turnoffs where you can view the wondrous scenic coastal drive.

On one occasion, my wife and I saw a road up a mountain that offered one a very high elevation with many parking areas at the top. When we finally found an available spot, we began to walk to an observation point when we noticed a man with his back near a steep ledge that dropped for hundreds of feet. I watched him lift a couple of cords and suddenly the bursting wind filled his rectangular parachute that was unnoticed on the ground. He immediately ascended high into the sky above us. For quite awhile, I watched him circle high above us and the valley far below him.
What a sight! I still shake just remembering what could have happen to him had the chute not opened when it did.
This lingering memory reminds me of the ascension of our Lord who accented into heaven and will come again that we may also be with Him. If we are alive we will also ascend or if we have already died we will be caught up together to be with him. In either case it will be the blessing the believer is waiting for.

“And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with him the believers who have died. We tell you this directly from the Lord: We who are still living when the Lord returns will not meet him ahead of those who have died. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the Christians who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever. So encourage each other with these words.” --1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. NLT

Saturday, May 2, 2009


“How long have you been a minister?” My friend Ed asked. At which time I told him.
Afterwards, my thought was directed to my ministerial mentor who had come to Christ during a fierce battle during World War II. Beforehand he had found a Testament lying beside a new replacement that had just been killed on his first day in battle and my friend placed it in his pocket. “Just a boy,” he often told me. A short time later he was hit by a shell that went through his left shoulder wrapping his left arm and hand around his neck and knocking out the little New Testament. The cry from this sergeant was, “If you will get me to a hospital today I will serve you.” Within minutes a medic was in the trench with him and noticed his hand tightly grasping the little Bible.
After telling my mentors story, my coffee partner “Giff” shared with me what had happen to him and his brothers during their war experiences.
Giff said, “In 1945, at age 18, I was inducted into the Army at Jefferson Barracks in St. Louis, Missouri. At this time I was presented a small Gideon Testament. I immediately wrote my name and home address on the inside cover. I carried this Bible with me to Korea, Japan, the Philippines, and then back to Korea.
“Upon my second visit to Korea I was pleasantly surprised to learn that one of my younger brothers was stationed there as well. I was fortunate to see him for a week before I was scheduled to return home. We spent some happy hours together and before I was to leave to come home I gave him my little Bible. I requested he take good care of it and bring it home with him. Several months later he and the Bible both came home safely.”
“By this time a second younger brother had joined the Armed Forces and was preparing to leave for Japan. So, I gave him the small Bible and it was again sent overseas and he in turn brought it back safely.
“It was now time for a third younger brother who had joined the Air Force to leave for overseas. That small Bible was again on its way to another foreign country. Now somewhat worn and showing age from it’s many travels with sad homesick men; who had turned it’s small pages so often and had jotted notes or memos of friends and countries never to be forgotten.”
Then Giff concluded, “Four years later the “Word of God” again returned home with the fourth son. Out of six brothers, four had carried this small Testament wherever the military had taken them. After thirteen years of military duty; slightly ruffled and worn that Bible is again at home with me. It has served its country and my family well; and along with all its memories is one of my most treasured possessions.”
What a story! I thought. God had traveled in their pockets everywhere they had gone and had spoken or blessed them as they needed it. And that is exactly what the Bible does for those who believe and trust it. It reflects what Jesus said, “I will never leave you or forsake you.”
Testaments like these have been given to millions of soldiers and were the comfort they needed in dangerous or lonely times. Only God knows how many died with one his pocket or hand and buried with him on foreign soil.
Over the course of the last 35 years I have seen many monuments to war, famous Generals, or the unknown warriors buried on foreign soil. Thousands of dollars has been spent to portrait such hero’s and rightly so.
However, today I want to salute a warrior that has gone, but little has been said about it. That little testament!
“But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.”-- 1 John 2:5-20
“But he said,….blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it.” --Luke 11:28