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Rite of passage: Snakes in the church
Apr10

Rite of passage: Snakes in the church

I have never been afraid of snakes. They were just a part of everyday life for a boy growing up in the country. There, I was taught that snakes were good; they ate the rodents that would destroy the crops. When I was in fourth grade, a large glass box sat in the corner of my classroom. Inside lived a full-grown Western rat snake. Most of the time, we called snakes like this “blacksnakes.” Every farmer in my part of the country knew...

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Rite of passage: Spam alert
Apr03

Rite of passage: Spam alert

When I hear the word “spam,” my first thought is of the meat. I grew up eating Spam. For a long time, I thought everyone ate it, and now I realize that, back then, it was for poor folks. I still eat Spam, but these days, I tend to think of it as a health food (at least that’s what I tell myself when I’m eating it). I know it contains the vitamins E-I-E-I-O. The rest of its ingredient list should probably read, “Contains an oink, oink...

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Rite of passage: The power of a book
Mar27

Rite of passage: The power of a book

It was a Sunday night in Georgia. As usual, I was sitting on the front row of the church. I don’t know what it feels like to sit on row three or four. Most of you can identify each other by the back of your heads; I can’t. This particular evening, a young lady came up to me and asked, “Can I tell you my story?” “I would love to hear it,” I said. So she began to share with me about her life, growing up in foster homes and being moved...

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Rite of passage: ‘The Kid’
Mar20

Rite of passage: ‘The Kid’

I was flying into Orlando, Fla., where I had been invited to speak at a local church. The Orlando airport is different from most airports I fly into; it is a city unto itself. You get off the plane and follow the herd until you find a shuttle filled with excited children and weary parents. Most of them are on their way to see a mouse and a duck. As you exit the shuttle, a crowd awaits that is bigger than some of the towns I have lived...

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Rite of passage: Drive-through prisoner
Mar13

Rite of passage: Drive-through prisoner

It has been pouring rain for days. The skies have been cold, dark and dreary; if I didn’t know better, you might convince me I live in Talkeetna, Alaska, instead of Tulsa, Oklahoma. During this messy weather, our newest staff member has been in town house-hunting. Yesterday, she flew back to Indiana but left her jeep at our office. She had told me the oil light had come on, and she was concerned because the vehicle is fairly new. I...

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Rite of passage: 1,000 and 20
Mar06

Rite of passage: 1,000 and 20

The other night, I went to hear a friend of mine preach. He, his father and his son had helped me carry the cross up Mount Kilimanjaro, and he was sharing what he had learned from our journey. After the service, many people came up to tell me they had been following and praying for us as we made that climb. Then we got to laughing at some of the antics I have shared in this column about my two grandsons and myself. As I write this, my...

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