rom July to October 1987, dozens of fires scorched more than 1.2 million acres of Yellowstone National Park, destroying forest land in approximately half the park. To many watching television across the nation, this was a total disaster.
But not to former Yellowstone Park Superintendent Thomas O. Hobbs. "Good things come out of seemingly bad things," he said. Even though the current scene was marked by ruined landscape, Hobbs explained that major fires can actually benefit the park in the long run. Burnouts rejuvenate park land by cleansing it of insect and plant disease before the natural growth cycle starts again.
— Sherman Burford Fairmont, West Virginia
ortable camcorders have a battery pack for power. Instructions for such camcorders typically recommend that users allow the battery pack to completely discharge before recharging, especially the first few times. This actually increases the endurance of the battery.
In like manner, our trials "discharge" us, emptying us of our dependence on human strength and increasing our capacity to receive God's limitless
— Philip Bourdon Norwalk, Connecticut
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n article in the September 1991 National Geographic tells of a young man from Hanover, Pennsylvania, who was badly burned in a boiler explosion. To save his life, physicians covered him with 6,000 square centimeters of donor skin, as well as sheets of skin cultured from a stamp-sized piece of his own unburned skin. A journalist asked him, "Do you ever think about the donor who saved you?"
The young man replied, "To be alive because of a dead donor is too big, too much, so I don't think about it."
Difficult to do, yes, but Christians have also received a similar gift — overwhelming, and worth thinking about.
— Bob Kapler Bakersfield, California
n A Pretty Good Person Lewis Smedes writes: The white people of New Orleans were scared. So were the black people. A federal judge had ordered the city to open its public schools to black children, and the white parents decided that if they had to let black children in, they would keep their children out. They let it be known that any black children who came to school would be in for trouble. So the black children stayed home too.
Except Ruby Bridges. Her parents sent her to school all by herself, 6 years old: the first, and for a little while, the only black child to learn a lesson in a white New Orleans school.
Every morning she walked alone through a heckling crowd to an empty school. White people lined up on both sides of the way and shook their fists at her; they threatened to do terrible things to her if she kept coming to their school. But every morning at ten minutes to eight Ruby walked, head up, eyes ahead, straight through the mob; two U.S. marshals walked ahead of her and two walked behind her. Then she spent the day alone with her teachers inside that big silent school building.
Harvard professor Robert Coles was curious about what went into the making of courageous children like Ruby Bridges, and went down there to find out. He talked to Ruby's mother and, in his book The Moral Life of Children, tells what she said: "There's a lot of people who talk about doing good, and a lot of people who argue about what's good and what's not good," but there are other folks who "just put their lives on the line for what's right."
— Bob Campbell Lima, New York
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n 1991 a judge fined brothers Geno and Russell Capozziello, owners of a Bridgeport, Connecticut wrecking company, nearly $900,000 for operating an illegal dump. In 1986, on the empty lots surrounding their facility, the brothers began dumping debris from buildings. Eventually the mound of rubble and muck covered two acres and reached a height of 35 feet, the equivalent of a three-story building.
The state ordered them to clean it up, but the brothers claimed there was no place to dump it legally in Bridgeport, and they could not afford to have it hauled away. While spending more than $330,000 the previous year to have debris hauled away, they barely dented the pile. According to Geno, "It was never supposed to get this high."
Like garbage, sinful habits have a way of accumulating beyond our plans and beyond our control.
— Michael E. Hardin Cochran, Georgia
hen complimented on her homemade biscuits, the cook at a popular Christian conference center told Dr. Harry Ironside, "Just consider what goes into the making of these biscuits. The flour itself doesn't taste good, neither does the baking powder, nor the shortening, nor the other ingredients. However, when I mix them all together and put them in the oven, they come out just right."
Much of life seems tasteless, even bad, but God is able to combine these ingredients of our life in such a way that a banquet results.
— Greg Asimakoupoulos Concord, California
or years William Wil-berforce had pushed in Britain's Parliament for the abolition of slavery. Discouraged, he was about to give up. His elderly friend, John Wesley, heard of it and from his deathbed called for pen and paper.
With trembling hand Wesley wrote: "Unless God has raised you up for this very thing, you will be worn out by the opposition of men and devils. But if God be for you, who can be against you? Are all of them stronger than God?
"Oh be not weary of well-doing! Go on, in the name of God and in the power of His might, till even American slavery shall vanish away before it."
Wesley died six days later. But Wilberforce fought for 45 more years and in 1833, three days before his own death, saw slavery abolished in Britain.
Even the greatest have needed encouragement.
— Carol Porter
ana Keeton told this story in The Democratic Union of Lawrenceburg, Tennessee: The sun had just risen on a hot August day in 1944 in the small village of Plelo, in German-occupied France. The 15-year-old boy did not know why he and the other citizens of Plelo had been lined up before a firing squad in the middle of the town square. Perhaps they were being punished for harboring a unit of Marquisards, the French underground freedom fighters. Perhaps they were merely to satisfy the blood lust of the German commanding officer who, the evening before, had routed the small group of Marquisard scouts. All the boy knew was that he was about to die.
As he stood before the firing squad, he remembered the carefree days of his early childhood, before the war, spent roaming the green of the French countryside. He thought about all he would miss by never growing up. Most of all he was terrified of dying. How will the bullets feel ripping through my body? he wondered. He hoped no one could hear the whimperings coming from deep in his throat every time he exhaled.
Suddenly, the boy heard the sound of exploding mortar shells beyond the limits of his little village. Quickly rolling tanks could also be heard. The Germans were forced to abandon the firing squad and face a small unit of U.S. tanks with twenty GI's led by Bob Hamsley, a corporal in Patton's Third Army. A Marquisard captain had asked Hamsley for help. After three hours, fifty Nazis were dead, and the other fifty were taken prisoner.
In 1990 the town of Plelo honored Bob Hamsley on the very spot where dozens of the town's citizens would have died if not for him. The man who initiated the search for Hamsley and the ceremony honoring him was the former mayor of Plelo, that same 15-year-old boy. He had determined to find the man who saved his life and honor him.
It's hard to forget your savior.
— Tim Stafford Florence, Alabama
n 1990, centerfielder Brett Butler left the San Franciso Giants as a free agent, joining the Los Angeles Dodgers, cross-state rivals. When Butler returned to San Francisco for the first time as a Los Angeles Dodger, Giant fans greeted him with a mix of boos and cheers.
The cheers turned to boos, however, when Butler hugged Los Angeles manager Tommy Lasorda. "It turned a page in my career," said Butler. "I'm an L.A. Dodger now; I'm not a Giant. That just kind of solidified it. I wanted them to know, I'm a Dodger."
When people become
Christians, in one way or
another they need to "hug
Jesus" in the sight of all
their family, friends, and
— Richard C. Kauffman Jr.
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