Tag Archives: Efree Church of Diamond Bar

Pastor’s Corner: Snow Days

By Mark Hopper

It only snowed 2-3 times a year in Dallas. It was a nightmare to drive in the traffic. Most residents had little experience driving in snow and on ice covered roads. One time in early January, the Superintendent of the public schools canceled classes because of the weather. It seemed like a wise decision but the sun came out by noon, the snow melted and the Superintendent looked foolish.

A few weeks later, when snow was again forecast for the Dallas area the Superintendent did not cancel classes. Students and teachers were expected to report to school. Unfortunately this was a serious snow storm and there were many accidents on the roads. In fact, my wife and I were in an accident as a car slowly slid down a hill into the side of our car. A mother who was trying to get her children to school hit our car while I was trying to get their teacher to school!

Many people were critical of the Superintendent when he canceled classes on a snow day in January and many people criticized him when he did not cancel classes on a snow day in March.

This sounds strangely familiar as we face the current Corona Virus situation. It is easy for people to be critical of government officials for decisions and actions they have and have not taken. Some feel leaders did not act early enough. Others feel that many of the actions and restrictions are an overreaction. State and local officials are making decisions regarding school closures, canceling public events and restricting travel. It is easy to criticize them.

We are living in an uncertain time. It is easy to focus our frustrations on our government and business leaders. Many people are fearful and concerned about how long this will last and how bad it will get. I think our parents and grandparents felt the same way when our nation was attacked by the Japanese in 1941. I’m sure there was fear and concern about how long the war would last and how bad it would get.

There is a wonderful promise found many places in the Bible that says, “Fear not for I am with you” (Isaiah 41:10 / Acts 18:9-10). Let me encourage you to open your Bible and read these verses for yourself. Pray for our country and our leaders. Help a neighbor or a classmate.


With God’s help and by helping one another we will get through this together.

Pastor’s Corner: Sharing With Others

By Mark Hopper

Several years ago after my wife finished an extensive series of treatments for breast cancer, some friends invited us to use their house while they were away to give her an opportunity to rest and recover from this exhausting journey. Their home was on the water in Newport Beach, California. When we walked up to the house, we were amazed at how beautiful and peaceful it was. It was not on the beach with all the tourists and bicycles but on Newport Shores where it was quiet and restful.

She began to regain her strength as we went for short walks along the water. As the days went by, she felt more ambitious and determined to walk further. By the end of our stay she was walking all the way from the house to the pier and back. It felt like we were on an extended vacation even though we were only thirty miles from home.

On several occasions over the years other friends have shared their cabins in the mountains east of Los Angeles. My wife was a school teacher and after the end of a busy school year, we often went to the mountains to get out of the foggy June Gloom and enjoy the blue skies and warm sunshine. Our wedding anniversary was also in June so this provided a perfect setting to rest and celebrate together. When our children were younger, a friend loaned us his motorhome for our family vacation.

We are so thankful for the people who have shared so much with us. There is a verse in the Bible that says, “Instruct those who are rich in this present world to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and willing to share” (First Timothy 6:17-18).

You may not think of yourself as rich but I am confident that you do have things that you can share with others. You may have a mountain cabin, a beach house or a motorhome. You may have an extra car or some tools that you can lend. You may have experience, knowledge or skills that you can share with others. Let me encourage you to watch for an opportunity to share some things you have with neighbors, friends or people in need. You will be glad you did and they will too!

Pastor’s Corner: Navigation

By Mark Hopper

I grew up during the Space Race of the 1960’s as America and Russia worked furiously to be the first to land a man on the moon. It was an amazing time in our nation’s history. Apollo 8 was the first time men orbited the moon and Apollo 11 was the first landing of men on the moon in 1969. America won the Space Race.

It is hard to believe that was fifty years ago. In 2019 I enjoyed reading several books and watching TV documentaries and movies about both of those remarkable moments. One of the things that caught my attention was how essential reliable navigation was to the success of those missions. I learned that the American astronauts were required to memorize the locations of a number of stars and constellations. Even though they had computers and sophisticated navigational equipment the astronauts knew they could rely on the locations of constellations and stars to chart their course to and from the moon.

I have read that Polynesians used the stars to navigate their way across the vast Pacific Ocean. They rested in the day and paddled and sailed by night aiming toward certain stars and constellations. The European explorers like Henry the Navigator from Portugal and other nations used the location of the sun and the stars to identify their location and chart their courses, too. They knew the locations of the stars were predictable and reliable in ancient times and they still are today. Now we have GPS (Global Positioning Satellites) to chart the paths for ships, aircraft and our own automobiles. These provide a reliable source for navigation and travel.

The Bible says that God created the universe. He placed the sun, moon, earth and stars in their places. The planets follow predictable orbits and the location of the stars are consistent and trustworthy. The Bible says, “Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens – who created all of these? God calls each of the stars by name. Because of His great power and mighty strength not one of them is missing” (Isaiah 40:26).

Let me encourage you to reflect on the beauty and order of the stars in the sky. When you see a beautiful full moon rising up in the eastern horizon I hope it reminds you of the regularity of the seasons and the reliability of each day and month. Give thanks to God who created the world we enjoy. You will be glad you did and He will too!

Pastor’s Corner: Meet the President

By Mark Hopper

Recently my wife and I were traveling to Texas to meet some friends in San Antonio. Our flight on Southwest airlines took us to Dallas first and then we waited at Love Field for our short flight to San Antonio. After we found our departure gate we noticed a familiar looking person in the waiting area. I had just seen his picture in the Southwest Airline magazine on our last flight. It was Gary Kelly – the president of Southwest. He was going on the same flight we were to San Antonio.

I wasn’t sure it was him until I introduced myself and my wife and asked if he really was Gary Kelly. He greeted us warmly and assured us he was the guy in the magazine and he was glad to take a picture with us. I told him we loved Southwest Airlines and we had been flying Southwest since the time it began in Dallas when I was a graduate student in Dallas in 1971. I enjoyed our brief conversation and told him how much we appreciated the way Southwest has personally helped us on several occasions. I told him we had recently flown on one of the new Southwest flights to Hawaii a few months ago.

He was very gracious and gave the credit to the airlines’ helpful employees. As we prepared to board our flight I noticed Gary and his wife were in line with all the other passengers. He did not request or expect special or preferential treatment. I suspect most of the passengers on our flight had no idea that the president of the airline was flying with us. I have enjoyed reading many of Gary’s articles in the Southwest magazine. Many times he has stressed Southwest’s philosophy of customer service. I am confident he models being a servant leader and putting the needs of others ahead of his own. There is a verse in the Bible that says, “Jesus did not come to be served but to serve others and give his life for us” (Mark 10:45). Let me encourage you to watch for opportunities to serve people around you – in your company, your community and on your school campus. They will be glad you did and you will too.

Pastor’s Corner: The “Otel”

Pastor Mark Hopper of eFree Church in Diamond Bar

By Mark Hopper

In golf they have a term called a “Mulligan” which allows a player to hit another shot. It is like a “do over” after you hit a really bad one. Can you remember a time in your life where you wish you could rewind the clock or calendar and do something over? A few years ago, my wife and I were invited to attend a wedding north of Santa Barbara. She had recently finished chemotherapy so we decided to drive half way to the wedding, spend the night at a hotel and drive the rest of the way the next day.

I looked online and found a few hotels near Ventura. One looked nice and had a view of the harbor. There was also an Embassy Suite in the area on the beach where I had attended a pastor’s conference, but it was twice the price. I reserved the harbor one.

When we arrived a few days later, we were very disappointed. The paint was pealing, the TV in the room looked like it was from the 1950’s and the view of the harbor wasn’t like the website!

After we unpacked, I suggested we drive over to show my wife the conference site at the Embassy Suite. It was gorgeous with flowing waterfalls, an impressive lobby and an ocean view. The contrast was devastating. I felt terrible. I checked to see if they still had any rooms but they were double what we saw online. Why didn’t I book the Embassy Suite when I had the chance?  Why did I trust the website and select the hotel by the harbor? I wished I could have a Mulligan. As we drove back to our hotel we noticed the sign on the building was missing the letter “H” – it read “otel”.  It was clear I had made the wrong choice.

I’m sure that all of us have done something or said something that we wish we could “do over”. Thankfully, the Bible says God is willing to forgive us for our sins and mistakes. He is gracious, compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love and kindness (Psalm 103:8 / Jonah 4:2).  He is the God of the second chance. He gives us “do overs” we don’t deserve! Thankfully my wife was gracious and forgiving, too. I hope I don’t make this mistake again and hope you don’t either.  When in doubt, go with the Embassy Suite and not the “otel”. You will be glad you did!

This article was written by Pastor Mark Hopper of Efree Church of Diamond Bar. Sunday Services are held at 9:00 am & 10:45 am at 3255 South Diamond Bar Blvd. You can contact the church at 909.594.7604 or visit them online at Efreedb.org

The Name of a Road

Photo Courtesy: Pixabay

By Pastor Mark Hopper

I love history and biographies. I enjoy learning about the lives of people and their journeys through life. It is fascinating to learn how a road or a street got its name. Recently I was driving down a major road in Scottsdale, Arizona and the saw a sign on a side street named “Joe Foss Way”.  I suspect that very few drivers even notice the street and even fewer know who Joe Foss was.  But I actually saw Joe Foss at Scottsdale Bible Church when I was a teenager.

Joe Foss was the first American Ace in the Pacific in World War Two. He was a cigar smoking, hard drinking fighter pilot who was the first American to shot down five Japanese planes in the war.  After the war his life changed dramatically when he became a Christian.  He was elected Governor of South Dakota and was one of the people featured in Tom Brokaw’s book, The Greatest Generation.

There is another road that you will see along Interstate Five between Los Angeles and San Diego. If you watch carefully you will see a sign that reads, John Basilone Memorial Highway.  This sign is near the Marine Base at Camp Pendleton.

I did not know anything about John Basilone until I watched the HBO series about World War Two in the Pacific. I learned that John Basilone fought in the bloody battles on Guadalcanal in the south Pacific in 1942. He was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his courage and bravery in the brutal combat against the Japanese.

He came home to a hero’s welcome but decided to dedicate himself to training other Marines for future combat.  Instead of just training them he decided lead his fellow Marines in the landings on Iwo Jima in 1945.  In the midst of this terrible combat, John Basilone was killed. The nation was stunned that a Medal of Honor recipient would go back into battle with his fellow Marines and give his life to help win the war.

These are just two examples. There are countless streets and highways that bear the names of men and women who have been recognized for their service and sacrifice in the military and in public safety. Let me encourage you to research some of the names that you see along the streets and highways in your community. You will be glad you did!  

This article was written by Pastor Mark Hopper of Efree Church of Diamond Bar. Sunday Services are held at 9:00 am & 10:45 am at 3255 South Diamond Bar Blvd. You can contact the church at 909.594.7604 or visit them online at Efreedb.org

Breaking Ground

By Mark Hopper

 

Recently, my wife and I were able to attend the Ground Breaking service for Vantage Point Church in Eastvale, California.  Our effort to launch a new church in this new community actually started 15 years ago in January, 2003.

 

Several families from our church had moved to this new community in 2000-2002.  It was called Corona Valley at that time.  Developers were buying up the Dairy Farms in area from Archibald to the 15 Freeway along Lymonite Road. Hundreds of homes were being built at attractive prices.  I often said that you could buy twice the house for half the price in Eastvale.

 

In early 2003, a family from our church asked me if I would help them start a Bible study in their new neighborhood.  Their names were Greg and Carol Crawford.  They invited neighbors and we launched a Bible study in Eastvale in their new home.

 

However, we quickly sensed that we should do more than have a Bible study – we should start a new church in this rapidly growing community.  There were three things we began to pray for – a leader, a location to meet and land for a future church site.

In 2007, God provided two leaders – Mark Lee and Tom Lanning from our church staff in Diamond Bar.  They offered to enlist the people from the Bible study and recruit people from Diamond Bar to launch a new church in Eastvale.   About 40 people banded together to launch this new church.

 

Throughout the summer of 2007, these people worked hard to promote the new church.  They handed out free bottles of cold water to people driving their cars near Hamner and Lymonite.  They gave away free gas and did free car washes to meet people in the community.  In September, they launched preview services once-a-month in a local Middle School.  And, in February 2008, they launched weekly church services with 200 people coming the first Sunday.  As the church grew, they were able to move to the auditorium at Roosevelt High School.  They now have four church services at the high school with about 2,000 people attending each week.

 

The church was able to purchase ten acres of land on Archibald Road just north of the Santa Ana River in Eastvale.  Our church in Diamond Bar gave a generous gift to help with the down payment.  The land had been a dairy farm.  On Sunday, September 29, 2018, church leaders broke ground to begin construction on their new facility.  It was a historic moment with about 1500 people on the property to celebrate and dedicate this land for the future site of Vantage Point Church.

 

It will take time to construct and complete this new facility.  I am sure their will be roadblocks and unforeseen challenges ahead.  This has been a remarkable journey.  We prayed for a leader and God provided two.  We prayed for a location for them to meet in and God provided a Middle School and eventually a High School.  We prayed for land and God provided 10 acres in the middle of this beautiful new community.  We are very thankful.

 

If live near Eastvale and don’t have a church home, I hope you will visit Vantage Point.  You can find information on their services and ministries on their website.  If you live near Diamond Bar, I hope you will visit our church on a Sunday morning.  I think you will be glad you did and we will too!

 

Pastor Mark Hopper

Efree Church of Diamond Bar

Sunday Services: 9:00 & 10:45 AM

3255 South Diamond Bar Blvd

Efreedb.org

 

Entertainment

By Mark Hopper

 

My wife and I have eight grandchildren.  The oldest is ten and the youngest will be two in November.  It has been a wonderful experience watching them grow up.  There have been a number of milestones like taking their first steps and saying their first words.  I actually got my name from our first granddaughter.  She couldn’t quite figure out how to say grandpa so she started saying “Pop Pop”.  That has been my name ever since!

Some of our grandchildren live out of the area, so we did not get to experience some of these milestones firsthand.  However, the youngest of the eight lives nearby and we actually babysit her and her older sister once a week.  So we have been able to see some of her first steps and hear some of her first words. In the past few weeks, this little one has started saying a lot of new words and putting some of them into sentences!  She repeats words that she hears from us and her parents and from her olde sister.  We are continually amazed at the words and phrases that she comes up with.

One day we were startled to hear her count from one to ten.  One, two three….and on she went!  I don’t think she actually understands the counting part of what she was saying, but there were the words in the correct order – one to ten!

Another time I asked her to say the word “entertainment”.  I don’t remember where we were, but I just said, “Janie, can you say the word entertainment”?  She did not hesitate.  She repeated the word exactly as I said it!  I think there are three or four syllables in that big word and she got every one of them right.  I should also add that she has leaned some other words quite early – words like “no” and “mine”.  I suspect that your kids and grandkids learned these words too. It is amazing to hear the words that come out of the mouths of young children.  But, I wonder what kind of words do they hear from your mouth?  Do they hear harsh words of criticism and anger?  Or, do they hear kind words and compliments?  Do your words strengthen their confidence or do they sow seeds of insecurity?

There is a verse in the Bible that says, “Do not let any unwholesome words come out of your mouths, but only words that are helpful for encouragaging others” Ephesians 4:29).   I hope your vocabulary is filled with words of affirmation, appreciation and encouragement.   I hope that the words you say to others are not selfish and critical, but kind and thoughtful.  Let me encourage you to watch your words this week.  I hope you will add some new uplifting words of praise and thanks to your vocabulary.  You will be glad you did and others will too!

This article was written by Pastor Mark Hopper, Efree Church of Diamond Bar, 3255 South Diamond Bar Blvd, 909-594-7604, Sunday Services: 9:00 & 10:45 AM, Efreedb.org

 

 

 

Three Generatons

By Mark Hopper

My wife and I grew up in the Phoenix area. When we were young, our parents took us to Southern California for summer vacation. We didn’t know each other at the time, but our families went to a lot of the same places like San Diego, Mission Beach, Sea World and Disneyland.

After we got married and settled in Tucson, Arizona, we brought our own children to Southern California, too. It was a big deal for us to take our four kids to San Diego, Mission Bay and the San Diego Zoo. On a few special occasions, we brought them to Disneyland. One of our favorite family memories was packing their suit cases while our kids slept and then picking them up at school and driving out of town as they tried to guess where we were going. We will never forget their shouts of excitement when they discovered we were going to Disneyland.

Now, there is a third generation of Hopper kids and grandkids that have enjoyed going to Disneyland together. Recently we went with six of our grandchildren and their parents to the Magic Kingdom.  It is fun to see the excitement and wonder in their eyes and in their voices. There is no place like Disneyland!

The younger members of our family prefer rides like Dumbo, Peter Pan and the Tea Cups. Their parents like to try more adventurous rides like Indians Jones, Runaway Mine Train and Star Tours. The grandparents enjoy more mellow rides like the Monorail, Mark Twain steam boat; it’s a Small World and Pirates of the Caribbean.

Everyone enjoyed the Pixar Parade and the Fireworks display. My wife and our daughters managed to do a little shopping and we found time for some good food and snacks, too. It was a memorable day for our family.

Our budget doesn’t allow us to go to Disneyland very often and your budget may not either. But, I do think it is priceless to make some memories with our family from time to time. They were glad we did and we were too!

Pastor Mark Hopper

Efree Church of Diamond Bar

3255 South Diamond Bar Blvd

909-594-7604

Sunday Services: 9:00 & 10:45 AM

Efreedb.org

 

Love And Work

By Mark Hopper

One of our daughters and her husband bought a house in Orange County about a year ago. They were thankful to be able to purchase a house to raise their two young daughters.

Our son-in-law and daughter worked hard to get settled and make their house into their home.  They purchased new furniture, new curtains and attractive decorations to hang to the walls.  Their house looks very nice.

However, the garage was cluttered with a variety of things that needed to find a place in their new house. I helped them hook up their clothes dryer in the garage and worked with my son-in-law to hang drywall in unfinished areas of the garage.

One thing that my daughter wanted was a shelf over the washer and dryer to hold laundry soap and other things. It seemed simple enough. I actually had some left over shelving material in my garage and some sturdy metal brackets to hold it up.

As I was gathering tools and materials to work on their project, I realized that my wife might want a shelf over our washer and dryer in our garage too. When I asked her about it, she was thrilled with the idea. I’m sure she wondered why it took so long to suggest this. We’ve only lived in our house for 30 years. That is a long time to wait for a small shelf in the garage.

I already had the material. It didn’t take very long to cut the wood and attach the brackets to the wall. It took less than an hour to measure, cut, drill and mount the shelf. It looked pretty nice. I was impressed with my work. My wife was too.

She was really excited to have a new shelf.

A friend used to say, “To a wife…a house means love. To a husband…a house means work”! The longer I have been married the more I agree with that statement. Women love it when their husband works on the house. Wives always have a wish list with more projects in mind. Men often avoid working on the house because they know that after one project is completed there are ten more waiting to be done.

There is a passage in the Bible that says, “Husbands love your wives, just as Christ loves His church” (Ephesians 5:25).  Jesus modeled love by serving and helping others and laying down His life for us. You can read more about this in New Testament books like Mark, John and Romans.

The Apostle Paul instructed husbands to love their wife. You can express your love with your words and by your works.  You can purchase expensive gifts and give her thoughtful cards. But, when you work on projects around your house, you send a clear message that you love your wife.  Even the simple act of putting up a small shelf is a reminder that you love her.

Let me encourage you to send a message to your wife this week. Fix something around your house. She will get the message! She will be glad you did and you will too!

Pastor Mark Hopper

Efree Church of Diamond Bar

3255 South Diamond Bar Blvd

909-594-7604

Sunday Services: 9:00 & 10:45 AM

Efreedb.org

 

Saying Goodbye

Pastor Mark Hopper

By Mark Hopper

My family and I are very sad to say “Goodbye” to an old friend.  Actually the friend is not a person but a restaurant in Diamond Bar.  The word began to circulate this week that the Whole Enchilada restaurant is closing. It has been a part of our family for 30 years.

 

On one of our first visits to Diamond Bar in1988, we were taken out to lunch by some church families to the Whole Enchilada.  We enjoyed the food and the warm atmosphere.  Little did we know then that we would become frequent guests over the next three decades.

 

As our children grew up, we would often celebrate their birthdays at the Whole Enchilada.  For many years, they offered a free meal and dessert to guests on their birthday. They would let the birthday guest wear a large Sombrero and the waiters would sing “Happy Birthday” (“It’s the Whole Enchilada and we are here to say…”). They would take a Polaroid photo, too. We could probably fill a whole wall in our house with those birthday photos from the Whole Enchilada.

 

I still remember the day when we were at the Whole Enchilada and learned that one of our daughters was pregnant.  She lived out of the area but she asked one of her sisters to take us to “the Whole” and present us with a small gift – a pair of baby shoes. Then she called to tell us that she was pregnant with our first grandchild!

 

We have enjoyed many meals with friends, neighbors, church members and out of town guests.  Whenever we asked ourselves, “Where should we eat dinner”, the answer was always the same – the Whole Enchilada!  We live so close we could actually walk there. It has been part of our family for many years.

 

We were able to go to the Whole Enchilada one last time before they closed.  It was packed!  People were standing outside waiting for an empty table.  We saw a number of old friends and neighbors.  It was like a reunion with current and former residents gathered one last time to enjoy the food and fellowship at Diamond Bar’s most famous restaurant.

 

Managers and waiters were personally expressing their thanks to loyal customers and customers were expressing their thanks to the staff, too.  At the end of our meal, several of us stood up and invited fellow guests to join in singing the famous Whole Enchilada Birthday song one more time.  It seemed like a fitting way to honor and express our thanks to our old friend.

 

 

Pastor Mark Hopper

Efree Church of Diamond Bar

3255 South Diamond Bar Blvd

909-594-7604

Sunday Services: 9:00 & 10:45 AM

Efreedb.org

 

A Cup of Coffee

By Mark Hopper

There are a lot of coffee places in Diamond Bar. We have at least two Starbucks; the It’s A Grind and The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf.  Plus McDonalds has the McCafe.  I’m sure that the possibilities are endless.

 

My wife likes me to bring home a cup of coffee for her from one of these local shops. It is called Julie’s Cafe. It is near our home and located in the Walmart – Crunch Fitness shopping center at Diamond Bar Blvd and Grand Avenue.

 

Since I don’t drink coffee, I can’t compare the tastes and flavors offered at Julies with other coffee shops in town.  But I know that my wife prefers the Hazelnut coffee with two packets of sweetener and a lot of cream.  I have memorized the formula.

 

I think that one of the things that make Julie’s so popular is the hospitality. The setting is peaceful and comfortable. I have seen Julie (the owner) personally trimming the potted plants on the patio and tending to the flowers that enhance the atmosphere.

 

They serve a variety of breakfast items and they have a large lunch menu. They prepare each item with great care on site. They are not open for dinner and are closed on Sunday and Monday. Julie’s Cafe is often filled with people of all ages enjoying good coffee and great food.   Guests enjoy the pleasant atmosphere and warm hospitality.

 

There are a number of verses in the Bible that emphasize the importance of hospitality.  You can examine a few for yourself like Romans 12:13, First Timothy 3:1, Hebrews 13:2 and First Peter 3:9. All of them highlight the importance of welcoming others into your home, church, business or office and treating them as your guests.

 

I wonder how you are doing in this area of your life.  Do people feel welcome and comfortable in your home or business?  Do you greet them with a warm welcome and friendly smile?  Do you make an effort to learn their name and how you can help them?

 

I think we could use more emphasis on hospitality in our culture today. Let me encourage you to do more to exercise hospitality to your clients, friends and strangers, too. You will be glad you did and they will too!

 

Pastor Mark Hopper

Efree Church of Diamond Bar

3255 South Diamond Bar Blvd

909-594-7604

Sunday Services: 9:00 & 10:45 AM

Efreedb.org

 

Fun With a Grandson

Pastor Mark Hopper

By Mark Hopper

 

My brother and I grew up in Arizona. We didn’t have major league sports in the Phoenix area when we were young but there were several Major League Baseball teams that did their Spring Training in Arizona.

 

One of my memories as a little kid was going to a Major League Baseball game with my brother and our grandfather.  The stadiums were much smaller and we got to see some well known players in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s.

 

Now, sixty years later it was my turn to take one of my grandsons to a Major League Baseball game at Angel stadium.  We have gone to several games with our whole family but this was the first time it was just grandpa and grandson. I wondered how the two of us would do on our baseball adventure.

 

We stopped at In N Out Burger for a quick dinner. We both enjoyed burgers and fries and shared a Milk Shake for dessert. We saw other Angel fans who were going to the game. We arrived at the stadium in time for the National Anthem.  As we entered the stadium we each received a free T-shirt marking all star player Mike Trout’s 27th birthday!  My grandson was impressed!

 

A friend had given us two tickets to the game. We didn’t realize they were near the Angel’s dugout less than 15 rows from the field.  My grandson and I were very excited to be sitting so close with a great view of home plate.

 

It was a great game to watch.  The visiting team got off to a quick start getting two runs in the first inning.  But, the Angels came back in the bottom of the inning scoring five runs. They would score six more runs during the rest of the game and win 11-5!

 

We brought some snacks with us to enjoy during the game and my grandson also brought his own baseball glove and hoping to catch a foul ball. A couple came in our direction but none were close enough for us to catch. We also did some shopping in the Angel’s team store. He selected a souvenir so he could remember this special time with Pop Pop.

 

I wondered how long my grandson would want to stay. I asked him a couple of times if he was getting tired and was ready to go home. To my surprise he said that he didn’t want to leave early but wanted to stay until the end of the game. So we stayed until the last out and cheered the Angel’s victory.

 

I took a lot of pictures with my cell phone and sent them to my wife and his mom and dad. In addition, we were on the Jumbotron during the game as a cameraman captured us and other enthusiastic fans in our section. My grandson was also excited to be part of the “Wave” where fans stand and cheer as the “Wave” sweeps around the stadium. And, we sang “Take me out to the ball game” in the 7th inning.

 

It was an eventful night at the ballgame.  I’m sure it is an adventure that we will remember for a long time.  I held his hand as we walked across the parking lot and I couldn’t help but smile – Grandpa and his grandson at a baseball game.  As we drove home, I asked my little buddy if he enjoyed the game.  He said “Yes”.  Then he asked, “Can I close my eyes now?”

 

Pastor Mark Hopper

Efree Church of Diamond Bar

3255 South Diamond Bar Blvd

909-594-7604

Sunday Services: 9:00 & 10:45 AM

Efreedb.org

 

A Familiar Face

By Mark Hopper

Some of our grandchildren and their parents have been staying with us for a few weeks.  It has been fun to have a house full of four energetic and enthusiastic young children.

 

One day one of them found a small newspaper on our driveway and brought into the house. I suggested that we look through the paper and see if there was a picture of anyone we might recognize in it. I said, “I wonder if there is a picture of Pop Pop (me) in the paper”.  My six year old grandson replied, “No Pop Pop – they only put pictures of famous people in the newspaper”.

 

I wasn’t exactly sure how to reply to his comment, but I thought it might be fun to look through the paper anyway. As we proceeded to turn the pages, he did not see anyone he recognized.  Several of the advertisements had pictures of people and several of the news articles did too.

 

As we looked at each page, I asked him, “Is there a picture of Pop Pop on this page?” His  answer was always the same – “no”.  But, when we got to page eight, he was startled to see a picture of me!  The expression on the face of my grandson was priceless.  He looked at the photo and looked at me several times. He couldn’t believe it – there was a picture of his grandfather in the newspaper!

 

I explained that I get to write articles for the “Weekly News” publication. I assured my grandson that a lot of people read my article every week. I don’t know the exact number of readers but I’m sure there are a lot.  He asked what kind of things I wrote about so I showed him a few copies of articles that I had cut out from past issues.

 

We sat on the couch and read a few of the articles together. I was surprised at his level of interest in what his grandpa had written. I told him that I had even written a few articles about him and his sisters. He was surprised but seemed happy to hear that I had written about them.

 

I couldn’t help but smile as I thought back on that conversation. “Only famous people have their pictures in the newspaper”.  I don’t consider myself famous.  I’m just glad I get to share my thoughts with a few readers each week. But, if my grandson wants to think that his Pop Pop is famous – I’m ok with that!

 

Pastor Mark Hopper

Efree Church of Diamond Bar

3255 South Diamond Bar Blvd

909-594-7604

Sunday Services: 9:00 & 10:45 AM

Efreedb.org

 

Peanuts And Cracker Jacks

By Mark Hopper

Some of our grandchildren have been visiting us for the past few weeks. We have enjoyed having them and their parents staying with us at our house. One of the things I have enjoyed while they have been here is playing baseball with them in our front yard.

 

We use a plastic baseball and plastic bat. We play in the front yard so there is plenty of room to hit the ball. The best time to play is late in the day as the temperature cools off and the sun is going down.

 

Baseball has a lot of rules and regulations. It is difficult to explain and takes a while to get used to. While they have been learning how to play baseball, we have also talked about going to a real baseball game together.

 

They have been to a few games in past years, but now they seemed ready to really understand the game. We decided to go to a Saturday night game at Angel stadium. The Saturday games start earlier and they usually have a fire work show after the game.

 

Food at the games can get pretty expensive, but the Angels allow people to bring their own snacks and food into the stadium. So, we purchased two large bags of peanuts and two large bags of Cracker Jacks at a local grocery store and brought them and some bottles of water with us to the game.

 

The grandkids were in awe of the big stadium.  We had good seats in the upper deck on the shady side of the field.  The grandkids were very excited and had a lot of questions about the field and the players. They were excited to see Mike Trout hit a home run in the first inning.

 

Our peanuts, Cracker Jacks and water bottles came in handy as we munched throughout the game.  I was surprised at how much they consumed.

 

It was a good game for the home team. The Angels scored eleven runs and they defeated the Seattle Mariners by a score of 11-6.  During the 7th inning stretch we sang “Take Me Out to the Ball Game”.  The grandkids knew most of the words!

 

Between innings, they often show photos of fans in the stands. They actually showed our family on the big screen!!  It happened so quickly that we didn’t have time to take a photo. It was our family’s ten seconds of fame on the big screen at Angel stadium!

 

After the game, they had a great fireworks show.  All of us really enjoyed it. They also showed a movie after the fireworks, but we didn’t stay. Our young fans were pretty tired out and we were too.

 

Did I mention that our baseball experience actually continued the next day?  Because the Angels scored at least ten runs, a local restaurant chain offered all of those in attendance a free chicken Taco the day after the game.  We enjoyed eating our free Taco at Fresca’s Mexican Grill in Brea on Sunday afternoon!  It tasted great!

 

I suspect that whenever we play baseball in the front yard with our grandkids in the future, we will remember our special adventure to Angel stadium together.  It was an evening we will remember for a long time!

 

Pastor Mark Hopper

Efree Church of Diamond Bar

3255 South Diamond Bar Blvd

909-594-7604

Sunday Services: 9:00 & 10:45 AM

Efreedb.org

 

Who Ate My Cookie?

By Mark Hopper

Recently, I was playing golf with some friends in the mountains outside Salt Lake City, Utah. It has been pretty hot here in Southern California, so it was nice to get away and enjoy cooler temperatures in the Wasch Mountains in northern Utah.

 

The sky was blue and the hillsides were covered with pine and aspen trees. There were several sparkling mountain streams running through our golf course.  It was a perfect setting for a round of golf with some old friends.

 

While our wives are out shopping, the husbands usually spend part of the day playing golf. Our wives think it is only fair that they get to spend the same amount of money on shopping as the men spend on golfing. This arrangement has worked out well for many years.

 

The men usually eat breakfast before heading to the golf course. Then we pack some snacks to take with us on the course.  We are too old to carry heavy golf bags and walk 4-5 hours playing 18 holes, so we rent golf carts to help us get around.   There are usually two golfers in each cart.

 

We load our golf bags on the carts and bring a few snacks with us, too. Sometimes we bring a bottle of water or purchase a soft drink at the snack bar to keep us hydrated on the course.

 

However, there are not only golfers on a golf course; there are small animals and critters living on the golf course too. In fact, we saw at least one deer each day we played.

 

Some of the full-time residents like squirrels and birds have learned that there is food on those golf carts. Often they will steal food when the golfers walk away to a tee box or putting green.

 

This year was no exception.  While we were taking turns on the putting green, we discovered that a squirrel had climbed up into our cart and was searching for a granola bar or bag of peanuts.  They knew exactly what they were doing and when to launch their raid on our goodies!  It was clear that they had become skilled, professional thieves who knew exactly how and when to attack.

 

Fortunately, we noticed they were in our cart before they could do any damage.  We chased them away and scolded them for trying to steal our snacks.  However, there are a lot more critters than there are golfers on a golf course.  This is their home territory. They know every tree and every hiding place on the golf course. They are permanent residents and we are only the visitors. They have home field advantage. We were at a distinct disadvantage.

 

Fortunately we were able to finish our round of golf without any loss of life or snacks. However, I must admit that we did leave a few goodies behind on the course to express our appreciation to the local residents for sharing their beautiful golf course with us.

 

Let me warn you the next time you go golfing, watch out for the local thieves and bandits on the course. If you are not careful, they will eat your lunch or steal cookies when you are not watching. But, you may want express your thanks to them by sharing a bite or two. You will be glad you did and they will too!

 

Pastor Mark Hopper

Efree Church of Diamond Bar

3255 South Diamond Bar Blvd

Sunday services: 9:00 & 10:45 Am

Efreedb.org

 

There Is No Taste Like Home

By Mark Hopper

Last spring, my wife and I traveled to see some of our children and grandchildren who live overseas. We actually flew to Poland and spent a couple of days with them touring Krakow. Then, we went south on a road trip from Poland to their home in Slovenia.

 

It was fun to see another part of Europe that we had never visited before. We drove through Poland, the Czech Republic and Austria on our way south to Slovenia. These beautiful countries are filled with endless miles of farms and fields producing crops of all kinds.  We saw some fields where seeds were just sprouting and others where the corn and wheat were growing rapidly.

 

Part of our road trip included a stop in the Czech Republic at the headquarters of the organization our children work with. This beautiful conference center is situated on a hillside overlooking the forests and fields below.

 

As we continued on our road trip, our son-in-law informed us that we needed to stop at a warehouse to purchase some food items that are not available in Slovenia. Our curiosity got the best of us as we inquired what we were looking for in Czech that was not available in Slovenia.  He was looking for authentic Mexican food.

 

Don’t misunderstand; you can actually buy Mexican food items at many stores in Europe.  For example, many of the large grocery chains sell Tortilla Chips and other items.  But they don’t always taste the same as what we are used to here in Southern California.

 

We were looking for a warehouse that actually imported authentic Mexican food.  It was quite an adventure trying to find this small warehouse.  It was not on a main highway.  We took some smaller two-lane country roads following the advice of Google Maps.  Even with the help of technology it was hard to find.  But eventually we found what we were looking for.

 

Here we were in the middle of Europe at a warehouse that imported real Mexican food.  They had Mexican spices, enchilada sauce, beer, tortillas, cheese, spices and a lot more.  All of these were authentic – made in Mexico. Our son-in-law was in heaven when he saw so many familiar items that he knew we would enjoy.

 

“They also had Tortilla Chips that were actually made in Mexico!  The chips tasted so good that we bought four cases that each contained 10 large bags. Yummmmy!”

Actually, some of the cases of chips were for other American friends who were hoping to get in on deal.  They would not be disappointed.  Four cases of Chips were on their way to Slovenia.  There would be no shortage of authentic Tortilla Chips in Slovenia for quite a while.

 

I suspect that there are certain foods that remind you of your home too.  We have a broad diversity of cultures in Southern California.  Along with these different ethnic groups comes the foods and flavors of their homeland.  I know we have grocery stores right here in our area that specializes in Indian, Chinese, Korean and Indonesian products and spices. There are probably many more that I am unaware of. There is something special about enjoying familiar food and sharing it with others.

 

Let me encourage you to step out of your comfort zone and go explore the grocery stores and restaurants in our area.  Find a familiar food from your home country and invite a friend or neighbor to enjoy it with you.  You will be glad you did and they will too!

 

Pastor Mark Hopper

Efree Church of Diamond Bar

3255 South Diamond Bar Blvd

909-594-7604

Sunday Services: 9:00 & 10:45 AM

Vacation Bible School July 23-27th

Efreedb.org

A Family Reunion

By Mark Hopper

My wife and I have four adult children and eight grandchildren. Some of our children and grandchildren live in Southern California but many of them live far away. We see the local grandchildren frequently, but we don’t get to see the ones who live overseas very often.

 

In addition, our grandchildren don’t get to see their cousins very often either. Since many of these eight cousins live so far away, they rarely see each other. In fact, our youngest grandchild had not met some of her cousins until this month.  She is 18 months old and she had not met over half of her cousins.

 

Recently, these four cousins flew to LA with their parents. Family members picked them up at LAX and brought them out to meet us. Other members of our family agreed it would be easier to meet at a restaurant so the weary travelers could get something to eat while the parents and kids got reconnected.

 

When we asked where everyone would like to meet, they unanimously agreed on In N Out Burger! The local family members warmly welcomed the weary travelers with yummy burgers, fries and shakes. There were lots of smiles and hugs at this informal family reunion.

 

Out of the corner of my eye I noticed the four older grandchildren circled around our youngest family member. The eighteen month old seemed a little overwhelmed by these older and bigger cousins. It was the first time they had ever met!  It didn’t take long for the little one to warm up to these older relatives. It was a moment to remember as these cousins met for the first time.

 

There is a memorable reunion in the Bible when Joseph is reunited with his brothers. They had been separated for many years and it was an emotional moment when these brothers were reunited in Egypt.  Joseph was even more overwhelmed when he embraced his aging father whom he thought he would never see again. You can read the details for yourself in Genesis chapters 37-50.

 

Summer is often the season for family reunions. Relatives travel from all over the country and around the world and go to great lengths to reconnect with relatives and friends. There is something special about spending time with older and younger family members.

 

Let me encourage you to take time this summer to reach out to other family members. Make an effort to reconnect with siblings and cousins, aunts and uncles. Whether in person or by social media take the first step and tell those in your extended family that you love and appreciate them. They will be glad you did and you will too!

 

Pastor Mark Hopper

Efree Church of Diamond Bar

3255 South Diamond Bar Blvd

909-594-7604

Sunday Services: 9:00 & 10:45 AM

Vacation Bible School – July 23-27th

Efreedb.org

 

Sunrise

By Mark Hopper

I delivered newspapers in Scottsdale Arizona when I was in high school. In fact, I was the Arizona Republic’s Newspaper Boy of the year my senior year. In addition, I was awarded a college scholarship by the newspaper to help pay for my tuition when I enrolled at Arizona State University.

 

There were two newspapers in Phoenix in the 1960’s.  The Phoenix Gazette was the afternoon paper.  The Arizona Republic was the morning paper.  I decided to deliver the morning paper so I could earn some money and participate in sports and other after school activities.

 

Newspaper subscriptions were sixty cents per week.  I had about 100 customers on my route.  Initially, I had to collect money every week. Collecting the payments took a considerable time each week, but I had to pay for the newspapers every Saturday. Eventually, I was able to get most of my customers to pay once-a-month. This saved a lot of time.

 

Delivering newspapers involved getting up every morning at 4:45 AM, every day of the year. Delivering papers was like milking cows – you had to do it every day – rain or shine.  Newspaper boys never got a day off!  We worked 365 days of the year, even Christmas morning!

 

I used my bicycle to deliver the newspaper. Even when I bought my first car, it was still easier to ride my bike than to drive my car. You didn’t earn a lot of money delivering newspapers, but I did earn and save enough money to buy my first car – a ‘57 Chevy!

 

One of the things I remember the most about delivering newspapers every day was watching the beautiful sunrises each morning.  My family literally lived on the edge of town. Just beyond our neighborhood were cotton fields that stretched for miles. This provided an unobstructed view of the mountains on the eastern horizon. I could pause on my route to witness the sun come up over the Four Peaks and the Superstition Mountains. The colors were amazing!

 

On a recent trip back to Arizona, I enjoyed getting up early and going for a walk. The nicest time of day in the Arizona desert is just before sunrise. The birds and animals come to life and the eastern sky is filled with color. It brought me back to my newspaper delivery days fifty years ago.

 

In Psalm 19, it says, “God’s glory is on tour in the skies and on exhibit across the heavens”.  The author goes on to say, “The morning sun is like a new husband leaping from his honeymoon bed or like an athlete who races from sunrise to sunset” (the Message Bible).

 

Let me encourage you to pause and watch a sunrise or sunset this summer. Whether you are camping in the mountains, relaxing on the beach or enduring the morning commute – take time to admire the beauty of God’s handiwork on display. You will be glad you did and He will too!

 

Pastor Mark Hopper

efree Church of Diamond Bar

3255 South Diamond Bar Blvd

909-594-7604

Sunday services: 9:00 & 10:45 AM

Efreedb.org

Vacation Bible School: July 23-27

 

Slippery Stickers

By Mark Hopper

Recently I took one of my grandchildren to one of my favorite fast food restaurants.  She loves the french fries and I love the burgers.  Yummm!

 

The nice lady at the cash register took our order and then handed a page of stickers to my granddaughter.  This small page of stickers keeps the younger customers busy while the burger and fries are being prepared.

 

However, this small page of stickers was actually slippery.  I know that sticky and slippery are opposites, but this page of stickers kept getting away from us.  It started when we stopped at the Ketchup dispenser to fill up some small cups with Ketchup to use on our French fries.

 

After we sat down at a table, I noticed that the page of stickers was missing.  Where did it go?  It seemed like it had just slipped out of her hands. I retraced our steps and discovered we had left it by the Ketchup dispenser.

 

We really did enjoy my hamburger and her french fries.  They were a tasty treat.  But, as we got up to go back to our car, I noticed that the stickers were missing again.  Where did they go this time?  I glanced back to where we were sitting and saw them on the floor under our table.  I was able to go back and rescue our slippery stickers again.

 

When we got home, my granddaughter proudly showed my wife her sticker page.  We encouraged her to take them home and show them to her parents.   When our daughter picked up our granddaughter, I made sure that the stickers got into their car.

 

However, the next day, the slippery stickers were missing again.  My granddaughter thought she had left the stickers at our house, but I was sure I put them in their car.  Later in the day, our daughter called to say that the stickers were found on the floor at their house.  They really were slippery stickers!

 

I don’t know what slips through your fingers or what you tend to misplace, but I think there are a lot of “slippery” things in each of our lives. Some people misplace their cell phones.  Other people can never find their car keys.  My wife seems to frequently misplace her glasses. All things that we use and take for granted.

 

I’m guilty of the same thing.  I often can’t find my wallet or appointment book.  I can’t remember where I put them down and I have trouble finding them, too!  They are almost as slippery as those stickers!

 

There is an account in the Bible where an axe slips out of the hands of a worker and sinks to the bottom of a stream.  The axe was borrowed and the borrower was responsible to return the item to its owner.  You would be surprised at how God restores the slippery axe to the one who borrowed it in Second Kings 6:1-7.

 

My suggestion is that you keep a close eye and a tight grip on those things that really are valuable.  Hold your loved ones tight and keep your friends close.  Don’t let them slip out of your life.  They will be glad you did and you will too.

 

Pastor Mark Hopper

Efree Church of Diamond Bar

3255 South Diamond Bar Blvd

909-594-7604

Sunday Services: 9:00 & 10:45 AM

Efreedb.org