Expert Predictions

“The bomb will never go off. I speak as an expert in explosives.” –Admiral William Leahy, U.S. Atomic Bomb Project

“There is no likelihood man can ever tap the power of the atom.” –Robert Millikan, Nobel Prize in Physics, 1923

“Computers in the future may weigh no more than 1.5 tons.” –Popular Mechanics magazine, forecasting the relentless march of science, 1949

“I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.” –Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943

“I have traveled the length and breadth of this country and talked with the best people, and I can assure you that data processing is a fad that won’t last out the year.” –The editor in charge of business books for Prentice Hall, 1957

“Man will never reach the moon regardless of all future scientific advances.” –Dr. Lee DeForest, “Father of Radio & Grandfather of Television”

“But what … is it good for?” –Engineer at the Advanced Computing Systems Division of IBM, 1968, commenting on the microchip

“This ‘telephone’ has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us.” –Western Union internal memo, 1876

“The wireless music box has no imaginable commercial value. Who would pay for a message sent to nobody in particular?” –David Sarnoff’s associates in response to his urgings for investment in the radio in the 1920s

“The concept is interesting and well-formed, but in order to earn better than a ‘C,’ the idea must be feasible.” –A Yale University management professor in response to Fred Smith’s paper proposing reliable overnight delivery service. (Smith went on to found Federal Express Corp.)

“I’m just glad it’ll be Clark Gable who’s falling on his face and not Gary Cooper.” –Gary Cooper on his decision not to take the leading role in Gone With The Wind

“A cookie store is a bad idea. Besides, the market research reports say America likes crispy cookies, not soft and chewy cookies like you make.” –Response to Debbi Fields’ idea of starting Mrs. Fields’ Cookies.

“We don’t like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out.” –Decca Recording Co., rejecting the Beatles, 1962

Jamaica Independence Day 2011

Forty-nine years ago Jamaica won her independence from Great Britain. It was twenty-one years ago in October that I left Jamaica to move to the UK, but today I realized that I still remember these words from the Jamaica National Anthem.

Jamaica, Land We Love

Eternal Father, Bless our Land,
Guard us with thy mighty hand,
Keep us free from evil powers,
Be our light through countless hours,
To our leaders, great defender,
Grant true wisdom from above,
Justice, truth be ours forever,
Jamaica, land we love,
Jamaica, Jamaica, Jamaica, land we love.

Teach us true respect for all,
Stir response to duty’s call,
Strengthen us the weak to cherish,
Give us vision lest we perish,
Knowledge send us Heavenly Father,
Grant true wisdom from above,
Justice, truth be ours forever,
Jamaica, land we love,
Jamaica, Jamaica, Jamaica, land we love.

Just wanted to share this with you.
Happy Birthday, Jamaica, Land We Love!

Stay! Good Dog!

Last weekend was our annual family campout at Battleground Lake State Park, just north of Vancouver, WA. It’s about the sixth year for us and it’s become quite a family tradition.

The kids (Philip and Stephanie and Jesse) come down from Tacoma and the other kids (Colin, Melissa, Jude, and Zane) and Jean and I and Buddy the Dog drive up from Bend.

This year it rained about 2/3 of the time we were there. Camping for us is an “in tents” experience, so rain is definitely a factor affecting the overall enjoyment of the experience.

We had a canopy and some tarps and a broomstick or two and devised some ingenious covers for the common area so we could sit near the fire and stay not quite dry. The boys, especially Zane, really enjoyed splashing in puddles and making mud.

For a good part of the day on Saturday, I made Buddy the Dog stay in the tent trailer because it was just too muddy for him to be among us as we gathered round the fire and the table.

I made him stay in for his own good. But each time I went to the trailer, he looked at me with his big sad brown eyes as if to say, “Hey Boss, what have I done that is so wrong you’re making me stay in here while all of you are out there?”

There was no way I could communicate to Buddy that his having to stay inside alone was not punishment for some unknown sin.

I wonder if I’m like that. I wonder if sometimes God is requiring me to do something or be somewhere I don’t want to be or to miss out on the fun that others are having and it is, in fact, for my good. But I perceive it as punishment and feel guilty or feel wronged or feel unloved.

I wonder if it’s as hard for God to explain things to me as it is for me to explain things to Buddy the Dog.

I wonder!

Are People Supposed To Just Smile?

Are people supposed to just smile and say, “Fine!” and talk about unimportant things and move on?

Are people supposed to say, “I’m breaking apart on the inside and I just want to run away from something that I can’t run away from because it’s inside me!”

If people smile and say “Fine!” their hearts get hollow, then hard, then brittle, then break.

If people say, “My life is on fire!” and try to tell it to the wrong person, it is very uncool.

Sometimes people can’t smile and say, “Fine!” anymore and they just say “It hurts so bad I took the plunge into being uncool because I don’t know what else to do!”

What if I’m a wrong person? What if I wince and turn away and leave the cry of pain hanging in the air?

What if I don’t turn away and I listen and take some of the pain myself? Is that enough? Is there anything else I can do?

I mean what are people supposed to do, just smile and say, “Fine?”

Installing a Ceiling Fan

My second project for the day was installing a ceiling fan in the bedroom.  We’ve had the fan for a month and today is the day to git ‘er done!

I carefully opened the box, found and removed the packet containing the instructions.  I’ve learned from previous installation projects that it’s good to read the instructions before ripping open the box and scattering all the parts around the house.

So I read through 6 pages of step-by-step, detailed instructions (with photos and diagrams) and it really looks doable!  I can’t quite picture all the details, but it looks like it will make sense when I get to it.

The first thing is to make sure the electrical box you’re going to install it to is UAL approved and properly fitted, then go for it.

I took the existing light fixture down and discovered that the existing electrical box is plastic and is not properly anchored to a ceiling joist or support bar and I have no idea what to do next!

Thinking it through, it seems that one might go into the attic, try to avoid falling through the ceiling, and carefully fit a support bar between two ceiling joists at just the right location to match the hole in the ceiling sheetrock, install an approved electrical box, and properly attach and anchor the electrical wires.

Thinking it through again, that’s way beyond my agility level (climbing up a ladder, through a 16-inch hole in the closet ceiling, picking my way over the wall into the space above the bedroom, crawling across 14 feet of ceiling joists – and then discovering I forgot the tape measure).  It’s also way beyond my skill level to think I could get the support bar cut and installed so it would support the weight of a ceiling fan.  And I have no doubt we’d have a sort of oblong hole in the ceiling sheetrock about a foot from where the fan should go.

So I put it all back in the box for now as I settle down to await a visit from a carpenter-electrician angelic being who will figure out what to do next.

I did, however, manage to put the existing light fixture back and it still works.  So at least we’re no worse off than when I started.  Oh, and I vacuumed up all the sheetrock, insulation, and plaster dust I scattered all over the bedroom.

Because He Chose Me

1 I love the Lord because he hears and answers my prayers. 2 Because he bends down and listens, I will pray as long as I have breath! (Psalm 116:1-2 NLT)

I’ve learned so much about the relationship between God and me from my dog Buddy. On a Friday morning in January 2003, Jean and I visited the local Humane Society and I saw a black and brown dog in a cage. I’m pretty sure I loved this dog from the moment I saw him, and Jean and I immediately made arrangements to adopt him. When we chose to adopt him, we rescued him from an unknown fate. When we chose him his life (and ours) was changed from that moment. When we chose him, we chose accept responsibility for him for as long as he lives.

I love Buddy because he’s my dog and I chose him. He loves me (affectionately, trustingly, dependently) because I feed him, provide for him, and care for him in ways he cannot even think or imagine in his little doggy brain. Buddy has no idea how much Jean and I actually do to care for him and provide for him. As long as there’s food in the dish and water in the bowl and a ride in the car and a run in the desert, he’s happy with his life! He’s happy to be my dog Buddy.

God loves me because he chose me. God chose me because of his mercy, compassion, kindness, and grace. Because he chose me, I’m his born-again, rescued, adopted child Jimmy. When he chose me, he accepted responsibility for me for as long as I live. My relationship with God is based on my dependency and his sufficiency. He cares for me and provides for me in ways I can only imagine. And I so quickly forget how much he does for me. There’s nothing like prayer to keep things in perspective. I pray because I have needs. I love him because he hears me and responds to my prayers.

God loves me because he chose me. He chose me because he loves me. He hears me because he is God. He answers because He is good. I’m happy to be his rescued, adopted son Jimmy!


Father, 12 What can I offer you for all you have done for me? 13 I will lift up the cup of salvation; I will praise Your name for saving me. 14 I will keep my promises to You in the presence of all Your people. (Psalm 116:12-14 NLT)

That Some Day We May Ride Bare-back

To shrink back from all that can be called Nature into negative spirituality is as if we ran away from horses instead of learning to ride. There is in our present pilgrim condition plenty of room (more room than most of us like) for abstinence and renunciation and mortifying our natural desires. But behind all asceticism the thought should be, “Who will trust us with the true wealth if we cannot be trusted even with the wealth that perishes?” Who will trust me with a spiritual body if I cannot control even an earthly body? These small and perishable bodies we now have were given to us as ponies were given to schoolboys. We must learn to manage: not that we may some day be free of horses altogether but that some day we may ride bare-back, confident and rejoicing, those greater mounts, those winged, shining and world-shaking horses which perhaps even now expect us with impatience, pawing and snorting in the King’s stables. Not that the gallop would be of any value unless it were a gallop with the King; but how else—since he has retained his own charger—should we accompany him?

C.S. Lewis – From Miracles

Glimpses of Beauty

Here’s a line from my list of To Do’s for today: Look for glimpses of beauty in the moment. Point out beauty spots to others who may have missed them.

So when I walked Buddy the Dog four blocks around the neighborhood, I consciously looked for glimpses of beauty. Here’s some of what I saw:

  • Glittering diamond-drops of water on the grass.
  • Glowing pearls of ice-drops on branches in the shade.
  • Flowers – lavender, purple, red, yellow, pink, more yellow.
  • New leaves glowing fluorescent green as the morning sun shone through.
  • Buddy the dog, high on sniffing a hundred morning smells.
  • Buddy pulling the leash and swaggering the way he does when he sees another dog.
  • Miniature elm leaves just forming on the branch.
  • Snow peaks ahead as I turned toward home – all white with only spots of black rock showing.
  • Lawns fresh-mowed with the cut pattern still sharp.
  • Fuzzy lawn, needing mowed (mine!)
  • Cold breeze blowing on my face when I walked east and at my back on the way home.
  • Fresh red bark dust next to weathered brown bark dust in a yard, smells great.

That’s what I saw this morning.  I just wanted you to know.

Memorial Day Thoughts

It’s Memorial Day. Memorial Day is supposed to signal the beginning of summer in my part of the world! This year we’re reduced to hoping it signals the approaching end of winter!

Anyhow, it’s a day to remember those who have served and sacrificed in the many wars of our lifetime. I suppose there are just wars and unjust wars. I know there are popular wars and unpopular wars. My war, the war in Vietnam, was an unpopular war.

When I came home after serving my tour of duty in Vietnam in 1967, only my family welcomed me home. I know there wasn’t any public welcome. I know my church didn’t make a big deal of welcoming me home.

Through the years, the memories of Vietnam kind of faded. I never talked about it. No one asked so I didn’t tell. In fact, it wasn’t until I returned back to the US in 1999 after nearly two decades of another kind of overseas service as a missionary that I remember anyone actually asking about where I served in Vietnam (Cu Chi), what branch of service (Army), what it was like (Life one day at a time).

It was at Westside Church that it happened. After I had preached one weekend at Westside and had made some reference to my Vietnam service, a man about my age approached me after the meeting, stuck out his hand, and said, “Welcome Home! Thanks for serving!”

Now it’s different. We’re two or three more popular wars along and the attitudes have changed. It’s now an honorable thing to have served in Vietnam. I’m glad.

Today I’m thinking about my cousin, James A. Stephens, who died in battle in WWII, the year I was born, and after whom I’m named. I’m thinking about the guys I knew in Cu Chi, Vietnam in 1967. I’m thinking how thankful I am for the 44 years of life and love I’ve enjoyed since I came home from Vietnam.

Today I’m so thankful!

Here’s the best Vietnam War song ever written or sung. Don McLean’s “1967”  And the best answer to the question, “Why did you go?” “Because they sent me!”

Who We Really Are

Princess Eve, the King’s oldest daughter, was kidnapped from the palace by an evil witch. The Kingdom was in an uproar as a fruitless search was made of every town and village, every farm, every forest camp. The princess was gone.

Nearly ten years later, Andrew, the King’s most trusted aide, was passing through a dismal town near the southern border of the Kingdom. As he watered his horse at the well in the town square, a raggedly-dressed girl came to the well for water. She was dirty and bruised and walked with her shoulders slumped and her head down, yet there was something, just a hint of dignity in her walk and her manner.

Andrew called her to him and asked her name and where she lived. She shyly replied, in the local accent, “My name is Sadie. I’m an orphan. I belong to the wealthy man who owns the bank in this town.” “Give me your hand, Sadie,” Andrew said. He took her hand and pushed back her sleeve and there on her forearm was the heart-shaped birthmark that confirmed to him she was really Princess Eve!

Andrew took her from the town and within two days she was back in the palace. It took weeks for Princess Eve to become healthy again. It took even longer for her to learn to trust, to smile, to realize she was safe now from the abuse she had suffered. But what a glorious day it was, when the King called a national holiday, a day of rejoicing, and brought Princess Eve out on the palace balcony for all the people to see! Then, at last, the story could be told, that Sadie the slave was really Eve the Princess and that she was home, safe at last!

18 Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later. 19 For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are. (Romans 8:18-19 NLT)