Tag Archives: Efree Church of Diamond Bar

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

 

Strong Feather

By Mark Hopper

I have probably written about this in the past, but I was reminded of it again when my wife and I were in Arizona recently.

 

My wife and I grew up in the Phoenix area in the 1950’s and 1960’s.  We actually met during our freshman year at Scottsdale High School.  We have many fond memories of Arizona and it is nice to go back to visit family members and reconnect with old friends.

 

Early one morning, I went for a walk along some green belts that meander through the neighborhood where we were staying.  These tree lined concrete trails are perfect for bicycles and casual walkers.

 

These paths are peaceful and relaxing teeming with birds and other wildlife as they enjoy these shady areas too.  The desert Doves sing in the early morning and there are usually cotton tail rabbits enjoying the abundant grass.

 

Other people get up early to enjoy the cooler morning air and take their pets for a walk before it gets too hot.  Daytime temperatures were over 100 degrees when we were in Arizona. One day the temperature reached 109!

 

My favorite sight to see on my early morning walks was the Gamble Quail.  They are very graceful with their slim size and red top knot on their head.  One morning, I saw a mommy Quail escorting 2-3 small babies as they crossed the path in front of me. I think they were looking for breakfast.  Those little ones looked so tiny but they kept up with their siblings as their mother watched over them.

 

One of the reasons I love the desert Quail is because my father wrote a book about a family of Quail in Scottsdale.  When he jogged along the canal bank years ago, he observed the activity of a covey of Quail near a horse corral.  The Quail were always busy in the early morning and early evening, but they sought shade and shelter from the hot desert sun during mid-day.

 

His book is titled, “Strong Feather – The story of the last Covey in Indian Bend Wash”. Strong Feather is a young Quail who goes from childhood games to leading the covey to safety as urban sprawl threatens his family’s survival.  Children and adults enjoy the adventures of Strong Feather and his fellow Quail.

 

Radio personality Paul Harvey actually featured the book at the end of one of his daily broadcasts. Paul Harvey shared that when he was in the 3rd grade, his teacher read a few pages from a good book at the end of every school day.  He liked “Strong Feather” so much that he said, “Every third-grade teacher must share this book with her last class of the day”. I agree!

 

Whenever my wife and I see a Quail, we think of my dad.  He worked as a writer for several newspapers, UPI and a large bank in Phoenix.  His typing skills transferred well into being a telegraph operator in World War Two. He was a writer at heart. Maybe that is why I am still writing today. It must be in our family’s DNA!

 

Next time you see a Quail in your travels, I hope it will put a smile on your face.  If you need a good book to read to your children, you might look on line or at your local library for a copy of “Strong Feather” by Richard Hopper.  You will be glad you did and I will too!

 

Pastor Mark Hopper

Efree Church of Diamond Bar

3255 South Diamond Bar Blvd

Diamond Bar, CA 91765

Sunday services: 9:00 & 10:45 AM

Efreedb.org

 

Baby Birds

By Mark Hopper

I have written several articles over the years about the birds that build nests and raise new babies at our house.  My initial reaction is that they are messy and they don’t clean up after themselves!  Bird’s nests would never pass inspection by the health department.

 

In addition, they infringe on our outdoor activities.  When I want to work in the back yard or clean the patio, I have to be extra careful to not disturb our feathered guests.

 

On several occasions, we have found nests that have been abandoned with small eggs inside. I think that my lawn mower and other outdoor activities have frightened the parents away and left the eggs unattended.

 

But, I must admit that we actually do enjoy seeing new baby birds at our house.  It is fun to hear their voices early in the morning and to see the flurry of activity as their parents continuously bring food to the nest throughout the day.

 

Back and forth, back and forth the mommy and daddy birds keep bringing food all day long.  The little babies keep demanding more food.  It seems like they are never satisfied.

 

Two of our grandchildren were at our house last week.  They loved standing at the window inside the house and watching the constant activity on our patio.  It is more entertaining than watching TV.

 

It is remarkable to watch the new born babies grow. We think there are two or maybe three small birds in the nest this year.  It looks like they are running out of room as the babies get bigger every day.

 

There is a verse in the Bible that uses the image of hungry babies who have an insatiable appetite.  The Apostle Peter wrote in his first letter, “Like newborn babies, hunger for the pure milk of the Word, so that you may grow in respect to salvation since you have tasted the kindness of the Lord” (I Peter 2:2-3).

 

I think Peter is saying that if we have had tasted God’s kindness in our own lives, we should have an insatiable appetite to get to know Him more and more by reading His Word.

 

Have you ever started reading a book and enjoyed it so much you “couldn’t put it down”?  I mentioned in a recent article how much I enjoyed the book, ”Wonder”.  I couldn’t put it down!  I wanted to know what would happen next.

 

I believe the Bible is that kind of book – once you start reading, you want to know what will happen next. And, don’t just read it once. Read it again and again.  The Bible provides spiritual strength and practical lessons that never get old.  I always recommend that you start reading in the book of Mark in the New Testament.  Then try Matthew or John and the book of Acts.  The Bible is a library with sixty six books. Start in Mark – that’s my name!

 

I hope you enjoy reading and learning.  I hope you will instill a love of books in your children.  Read to them when they are young and teach them to read while they are young.  Reading is something they will enjoy the rest of their lives.

 

And, let me encourage you to read the Bible, too.  Read it to your children when they are young and model it for your children as they grow up.  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

 

Hats

By Mark Hopper

I was sitting on a park bench a while ago and I noticed that I was the only person wearing a hat!  There I was enjoying a little snack in this open pedestrian area watching people go by and it dawned on me that no one was wearing a baseball cap except me.

 

This pedestrian shopping area was in a Central European country.  The spring weather was great.  There were blue skies, a cool breeze and plenty of sunshine.  It was pleasant, peaceful settings as I relaxed by myself and watched the world go by. But, the only one wearing a hat was me!

 

I started to watch more carefully.  Was this really true?  Was I really the only one among dozens of shoppers that was wearing a hat?  Finally, I noticed a man and woman walking in my direction.  The man was wearing a baseball cap.  Finally, I thought to myself, people do wear hats in this country.  But, as they got closer to me, I noticed the woman had something in her hand.  She was carrying a map.  Then I realized they were tourists just like me!

 

Slowly I began to realize that people who live in this European country don’t wear baseball type hats.  No one!  And because I had my baseball cap on, I stuck out like a sore thumb.  I suspect people were looking at me thinking – this guy is a tourist.  He is wearing a hat!

 

There is an interesting passage in the Bible in Mark chapter 14.  Jesus instructs two of his disciples to go into the city of Jerusalem and make preparations to celebrate the annual Passover meal.  When these two disciples ask him where they should go, he told them to look for a man who is carrying a pot of water on his head and follow him the to place Jesus had reserved.

 

This clandestine encounter always seemed to me like it was out of a Spy movie.  “Look for your contact at the Train Station – they will be wearing a red carnation”.  Jesus told his disciples to follow the man carrying water.  Jesus had reserved an upper room so he and his followers could enjoy the Last Supper alone and undisturbed.  He wanted to get away from the crowds and his critics.  He knew the Cross was only hours away.

 

Why the man with the water pot?  Because, in Bible times the women were usually who would go to the well to get water.  In the culture in Israel, the men did not carry the water.  When the two disciples went into the city, they would easily notice the man with the water pot on his head.  He would stick out just like an American tourist wearing a baseball cap in a European city.

 

Our country and our community are a blend of many different cultures.  This diversity of cultures and customs enriches our community and provides us with a remarkable opportunity to experience and appreciate cultures from around the world.  The world has come to us!

 

I don’t know if you wear a baseball cap or if you transport water in a particular way.  But, I hope you will take time to observe and enjoy the diversity of cultures in our community.   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

 

Watch for Camels

By Mark Hopper

We saw a lot of camels on our recent trip to Israel.  We saw some camels at tourist stops where people could pay the owner five dollars to sit on a one and get their picture taken. We also saw a lot of camels on the hillsides as we rode down the highway on our tour bus.

 

I frequently noticed a sign along the highway that made me smile.  We have similar signs along our highways and interstates that have a picture of an animal.  These signs don’t need words on them – the picture says it all.

 

We have some of these signs in Diamond Bar with an image of a deer on it.  In other words, it is warning drivers to be careful and “Watch for Deer”.  I have seen other signs in the mountains with a picture of an Elk or Bear which means – “watch out for local wildlife” on the highway.

 

I must admit, I have never seen a sign along any highway with the picture of a Camel.  But I did in Israel.  These signs were everywhere, especially in the vast desert areas in the southern part of the country.  Apparently, camels do sometimes wander out onto the highway.  Roadside signs warn drivers to be careful and watch out for camels on or near the highway.

 

Just seeing the signs made me smile.  I laughed to myself as I imagined seeing a sign like that in our country.  I doubt if you will ever see one even as you drive across the desert to Phoenix or Las Vegas.  Caution – watch for camels, seems pretty unlikely in our country.

 

The Bible has some warning signs, too.  The authors of the Bible warn us to not covet neighbor’s possessions and to not lie and to not steal.  We call these commandments – like the Ten Commandments in Exodus chapter 20.

 

These commandments are warning signs on the highway of life.  They try to alert us that there are dangers and consequences ahead if we ignore the warning signs.

 

Parents try to alert their children of the hazards and dangers that may be in their future.  Teens will be tempted by drugs, drinking and reckless behavior that can be harmful to their lives and the lives of others.  Wise parents try to warn their children and teens of temptations and dangers ahead.

 

We post signs to alert children and adults of the risks of swimming in the ocean or in a hotel pool.  Warning – no life guard on duty.  Caution – rip currents.  The warning signs are there to protect us from unseen or unexpected dangers.

 

You may not encounter any camels on your next road trip, but let me encourage you to pay attention to the signs along the highway. There are real dangers ahead as you drive down a vast interstate highway or a windy mountain road.  Stay alert and heed the warning signs.  And, watch for camels, too! You will be glad you did and others 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