Tag Archives: Evangelical Free Church of Diamond Bar

Rescuing a Lizard

By Mark Hopper

I recently heard in the news that a woman called “911” because she was being strangled and bitten by her Boa Constrictor.  Fortunately, she was rescued by local law enforcement and survived this frightening event.

My story is on a much smaller scale and not as dramatic.  Actually, I was not attacked by a lizard.  I rescued a lizard!

When I went out to wash my car, I opened the front wrought iron gate to get the garden hose.  As I opened the gate, I noticed something unusual.  Something was caught on the bottom of the gate.  I thought is was a leaf or piece of paper.  But, when I looked closer, I realized it was a lizard.

I had attached some wire screen to the lower part of the front gate to keep rabbits from getting into my back yard.    The screen is made of wire with small squares about a quarter inch wide.

Unfortunately, the lizard got trapped in this wire screen and was unable to get free.  At first, I thought the lizard was dead.  He appeared lifeless and was not moving.  But he reacted quickly when I touched him.  Thankfully, he was still alive.

How do you free a lizard who has squeezed himself into a fix like this?  I decided that surgery was required.  I went into the garage and found a small pair of wire cutters.  I went back to the gate and began to cut the wire screen around the lizard being careful to not injure my small friend.

I felt a little like one of those technicians you see in the movies who defuse bombs.  They have to carefully cut each wire without detonating the device.  I finally cut the section of wire away from the gate.  Now I just needed to cut the last few pieces that were still holding the lizard.  With the precision of a brain surgeon, I cut each piece as carefully as possible.  Finally, the lizard broke free! Success!

Of course, after freeing my little friend, you would expect that he would stay behind to thank me.  But, that was not the case.  He quickly dashed off into the nearby bushes glad to be freed from this life threatening predicament.

I am glad that my rescue attempt and surgical strategy was a success.  I enjoy having lizards around the yard and I’m glad I was able to rescue this one.

I wonder how often God has rescued us from some unanticipated situations?  I wonder how often He has protected us from serious injury or an unforeseen problem that we are unaware of?

I do know that the Bible promises us that when we call on Him for help, He hears our prayers.  Psalm 145:18-20 says, “The Lord is near to those who call on Him…He will hear their cry and rescue them”.

But, don’t wait until a crisis comes into your life.  Call on God every day.  Begin and end each day with prayer.  He is near and He will hear every prayer!

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 Manila Envelope

By Mark Hopper

 

Recently, I received a large Manila envelope in the mail from my brother.  He is my favorite brother. Actually, he is my only brother! He sends me a birthday card every year and signs it – “Your Favorite Brother”. I wasn’t sure what he was sending me .  My birthday is in August.  I knew it was too early and too big for a birthday card.  So I was curious.  What was in this large envelope? He must have been cleaning out some old files and boxes, because he sent me some old photos and newspaper clippings.  I suspect that these were things that my father and mother collected over the years.  My brother must have found them as he cleaned out some files after they died.

There were some real treasures among the things he sent.  There were pictures of our children when they were in elementary school.  There were a few pictures of some family gatherings.  And, there was a picture of my brother and me and our wives with my dad after our mother had died.  There were a few photos of my wife and I with my parents at my graduation from seminary in 1975.

The envelope also contained some old newspaper clippings of me when I was in high school and college.  One news article was about a good looking young man who had been named “Newspaper Boy of the Year” in Phoenix Arizona by the Arizona Republic in 1968.  That good looking guy was me!  There was a nice picture of me receiving this special award.  According to the article there were over 2,000 newspaper carriers in Phoenix at that time.  Somehow, the Arizona Republic selected me!

Another newspaper article reported that two young men had been selected to represent Arizona at the annual “Boys Nation” gathering in Washington, DC in July, 1968.  The American Legion sponsored “Boys State” in all fifty states each year.  In each state, young leaders gathered on a college campus to learn about leadership and government.  They  held elections and selected representatives for the various branches of state government.  I was one of over 300 young men who attended the Arizona Boys State convention in 1968.  I was one of the two young men selected to go to Boys Nation in Washington, DC.  That brought back many memories.  During that week in Washington, we met with President Johnson in the White House Rose Garden.  We also met with Vice President Hubert Humphrey later that week.  We had private tours of the nation’s Capitol, the White House, the  Pentagon and the State Department.  It was a week that I will always remember.

There were a few other items in that large Manila envelope.  There were a few cards written by our mother.  There was my second grade spelling book.  I don’t think my parents saved my report cards.  That is probably best! There are many passages in the Bible that urge us to remember our past and reflect on God’s blessings.  The Bible also instructs us to share these stories with our children and grandchildren.  In the book of Deuteronomy chapter six it says, “Teach your children and talk about these things when you are at home or out for a walk – at bed time or the first thing in the morning”. I am confident that you probably have some envelopes and files at your house that contain some family treasures.  Let me encourage you to get them out and take some time to share them with  your immediate and extended family.   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

Men and Women

By Mark Hopper

My wife and I recently enjoyed a restful vacation at an older beach community.  The setting was lovely and the weather was great.  We really enjoyed our time there. We stayed at a condo a short walk from the beach.  Sometimes we would drive to a nearby coffee shop or breakfast place to start our day.  As we drove along, we noticed that there were a lot of people wallking and jogging on the sidewalks just above the beach. There were men and women of all ages.  Some were walking alone and others with a partner or two.  Some of the women were pushing high tech baby strollers with bicycle type tires and streamlined contours.  They sure look different than the four-wheeled strollers we used when our kids were young!   There were a lot of older adults out too early but very few teens!

As we observed this early morning activity, my wife and I began to wonder if there were more men or more women involved in this daily routine.  So, we started counting.  Each day we made a mental note if we saw more men or more women.  What do you think we learned? Almost every day, there were more women than men walking or jogging along the street.  I think there was one day where the men won, but most of the time there were more women walking, running and exercising.  I must admit that I was a little surprised.  I thought that the men would be out exercising and that the women would be home making breakfast and taking care of the kids or grandkids. I was wrong.  The women consistently outnumbered the men.  Younger women were jogging along the sidewalk wearing stylish shorts and tops with their hair in a pony tail.  They had a bounce in their step and looked like they had already been to the gym.  Older women were walking at a slower pace but seemed to be enjoying the beautiful scenery and conversation with a friend.

We did see some younger men wearing conventional shorts and not wearing shirts.  They looked pretty “buff” and were very sweaty (sp).  Older men were typically walking alone at a slower pace.  And, there were some couples walking or jogging together, too. I suspect that most of the men were still in bed or at best sitting in their PJ’s drinking a cup of coffee on the veranda (sp) back at their condo.  Maybe the younger men were already too busy playing games on their computers or smart phones.  Some of the men may have been on the phone talking with their office back home.

It seemed clear to my wife and I that the women were on the move and the men were not.  I wonder if this is true at the local gym too? Are there more women than men at 24 Hour Fitness?  Do the women outnumber the men at Crunch or LA Fitness too? I wonder if this is true in our country?  Are the men sleeping in and the women out exercising?  Have the men become couch potatoes?  Are the women in our country setting the pace when it comes to exercise and better health? I realize that our survey does not meet scientific standards and may not be completely accurate.  We were just one couple in one community observing human behavior for one week.  Obviously more study needs to be done in this area. You need to draw your own conclusions.

My conclusion is this – two cheers for the active women.  Keep it up – you are doing great!  My challenge for the men is – get out of bed, get off the couch and get out the door.  Join a gym or find a jogging partner.   Both men and women of all ages need regular exercise.  It is good for the body, mind and soul.  Take the first step toward better health this week!  You will be glad you did and your family will too.

Pastor Mark Hopper
Efree Church of Diamond Bar
3255 South Diamond Bar Blvd
Sunday Services: 9:00 & 10:45 AM
Efreedb.org 

Where’s My Bag?

By Mark Hopper

Recently, my son and I took a father son golf trip.  My wife came along to cook for us and to clean our golf clubs each day (just kidding).

My son and I enjoy playing golf and sharing time together.  He is a good golfer and can really hit the ball a mile.  His tee shots can be amazing and he hits his iron shots high and long onto the green.

Since we were traveling by plane, we both checked in our golf clubs at the ticket counter. We both use a “travel bag” to transport our golf clubs.  Some golfers use a “hard shell” travel case, but both my son and I use a soft, canvas case.  Both of ours are black.

When we arrived at our destination, we headed for baggage claim to pick up our clubs.  We always hold our breath hoping that our bags made it to our destination.  I suppose everyone who travels by plane has “lost” a suitcase or other luggage.  But, this time there was no problem.  We grabbed our golf bags and headed for the car rental center.

However, as I was signing papers for our rental car, my phone rang.  I handed my phone to my son so I would not be discourteous to the car rental employee.  The call was from a number that he didn’t recognize but he answered it any way.

I didn’t hear the conversation, but it did sound like something was wrong.  I hoped it wasn’t an emergency.  After getting the keys to our rental car, I asked my son what the phone call was all about.  He said that it was from someone at baggage claim at the airport.  They said they had my golf bag and wondered if we had picked up their bag by mistake!

We called them back and asked them to wait for us on the curb by baggage claim. We drove our rental car right back to the airport.

We didn’t know what the people looked like and they didn’t know us, but we found each other pretty quickly.  They were the people with the black, canvas golf travel bag.

Apparently, one of their travel bags was exactly like mine!  We had picked up their bag thinking that it was one of ours.  When they saw my bag, they thought it was theirs.  When they opened the travel bag, they quickly realized that the golf clubs inside were not theirs.  Thankfully, I had my name and phone number in one of the pockets of my golf bag.  That is how they knew how to call me.

Our travel bags were exactly the same.  The same brand and same color.  Identical.!  I am very thankful that they discovered our mistake and were able to contact us before we left the airport.  We might not have discovered our mistake until we got to a golf course a day or two later.  A potential disaster was averted!

I guess you can’t judge a book by its cover or a travel bag by its color.  It is wise to look inside and see what is there.  The same is true in dealing with people.  We should not judge them by their exterior.  The color of their skin or the clothes that they wear.  We need to look beyond the surface and get to know the real person on the inside.

In the Old Testament book of First Samuel, God warns his prophet Samuel that men look on the outward appearance but God looks on the heart (I Sam 16:9).  In the New Testament, Peter says that we should not just focus on our outward appearance (clothes, jewelry, hair) but focus on the hidden person of the heart (I Peter 3:1-6).

I know that most suitcases look alike and so do golf travel bags.  But, we need to remember that it is what is on the inside that counts. The same is true when we look at our neighbors, co-workers and classmates.

Pastor Mark Hopper
Efree Church of Diamond Bar
3255 South Diamond Bar Blvd
Sunday Services: 9:00 & 10:45 AM
Efreedb.org 

 

A Cow Bell

By Pastor Mark Hopper

Many years ago my wife and I and a group of adults from our church traveled to Romania.  We worked in partnership with a young pastor and growing church in the middle of the country.

In addition to visiting their church in the city of Cluj, we spent a week together in a rural village near the Transylvania mountains.

A number of young couples participated in a week-long marriage retreat.

In addition to daily discussions on marriage, there was also time for recreation and relaxation.  The Romanians were just as competivte as Americans.  Coed volleyball games were enjoyed by all of us.

One day during the week, I saw a line of cows walking down a dirt road near the field where we were playing volleyball.

The lead cow had a small brass bell hanging from a strap around his neck.  He was leading the other cows back into the village at the end of the day from the grassy fields nearby.

I told the members of our team that we were going to continue to play volleyball until the “cows come home”.  They didn’t know how accurate my prediction was.  We ended the game a few minutes later after the cows passed by us on the dirt road.

Recently while I was playing with our granddaughter at our house,  she had discovered a small cow bell on a self in our bedroom.  She was intrigued by its size and sound.  She didn’t know that this small bell was a gift from our friends in Romania.

I had not noticed that bell for years, but it immediately brought back fond memories of our trip to Romania and the wonderful friends we met there many years ago.

You probably have some keepsakes and souvenirs that remind you of people and events in your life.  You may have a picture or a plaque that brings back special memories of places you have been.

In one example in the Bible,  the people of Israel piled up twelve large boulders along the bank of the Jordan River.  These large stones were to serve as a reminder that the Israelites crossed the Jordan River on dry ground (Joshua chapter 4).These large stones were to remind future generations of this remarkable event in their nation’s history.

I think we all need visual, tangible objects to help us remember special events and special people in our lives.  You probably have some things around your house – pictures, trophies, and souveniours.  Let me encourage you to take some time this week to look around your house or office and reflect on the memories you find there.

Take time to tell your children and grandchildren the meaning and significance of some of the things that are hanging on your walls or sitting on the shelves in your house.  Maybe it is time to add a few new ones while you have the time.  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

A Small Box

By Mark Hopper

I think most husbands have difficulty finding gifts for their wife.  After many years of marriage, it is hard to think of something new and creative to give her. From a husband’s perspective,  most wives who have been married for 25 or 30 years have everything they need.  We have been married 45 years!  What else could she possibly need?

Since I wasn’t sure what to do,  I called one of our daughters and asked for some suggestions.  One idea she thought of was to give my wife theater tickets to a Musical that was coming to southern California in the spring. The nice thing about theater tickets is that my wife enjoys receiving them and she looks forward to the date we will actually use them!  The anticipation adds to the enjoyment.

Another suggestion was to give my wife a gift card to one of her favorite clothing stores so she could pick out a dress or an outfit herself.  That does eliminate the surprise factor but it does allow her to find something she likes. Finally in desperation, I decided to go to the Mall myself on the Saturday before Christmas and see what I could find.  I had a budget in mind and thought I would start in the jewelry department.  The Mall was crowded and parking was scarce, but I was determined to not leave without a Christmas gift for my wife.  After I finally found a parking space, I set out on my quest.

Since I had not been to the jewelry department in years, it took me a while to find it.  Several helpful clerks were waiting for me. I’m sure they know what a desperate husband looks like on Christmas Eve. I decided to lay my cards on the table and simply asked the clerk what could I buy within my budget?  I was surprised at how willing they were to help me.  They even had some items on sale within my price range. When I picked out the item I liked,  they informed me that the special reduced sale price wasn’t available until after Christmas. Bummer!  But, they assured me that they could check with their manager and see if they could sell me the item at the special after Christmas reduced price now.  Was this a scam?  Was I their next victim?  I held my breath.

Finally, the clerk returned with good news.  They were glad to sell me the item now at the after Christmas price.  It was within my budget and they even offered to wrap it.  Success!

Before they wrapped the little velvet box, they removed the price tag and gave it to me.  According to the tag, the original price was several times higher than what I paid.  I was impressed with my bargaining skills! I left the Mall with a gift in hand.  Like Julius Caesar said,  “Venti, vidi, vici” – “I came, I saw and I conquered”.

My wife was thrilled with her Christmas gift.  It was a winner.  She couldn’t believe that I would buy something this nice.  She was very pleased and very surprised.  Who was I?  Where was her real husband?? I managed to leave the price tag in an obscure place knowing that she would eventually find it.  When she saw it a few days after Christmas, she called me immediately and asked if I had really spent that much on her gift. I reassured her that she was worth every cent, but I tried to avoid telling her I that I had actually paid the after Christmas super discount price.  I hope you won’t tell her either. I hope your holidays were as much fun as ours.  Gift giving is a risky business.  It is hard to find the right gift for the woman who already has everything!  This Christmas was a winner!

Efree Church of Diamond Bar

3255 South Diamond Bar Blvd

(909) 594-7604

Sunday Services: 9:00 & 10:45 AM

EFreedb.org

Looks Can Be Deceiving

By Mark Hopper

 

My wife and I have been to a number of different countries around the world.  Recently, we were in Central Europe.  It is beautiful.  The mountains are snow capped and the hillsides are lush and green.

Many of the buildings are hundreds of years old, especially in the older established parts of major cities.  Many of these buildings have been repaired and restored.  They look impressive and distinguished.

But, when you get up close, it is surprising to see that some paint or plaster has deteriorated.  It is surprising to find red clay bricks beneath the exterior facade. It is amazing to discover that many beautiful buildings, palaces and cathedrals are built with small, red, clay bricks! The craftsmen and engineers certainly did wonderful work.  But, hidden beneath the exterior beauty of these buildings are thousands of clay bricks cemented together. Looks can be deceiving!

There are passages in the Bible that instruct us to not base our opinion of other people simply on their exterior characteristics.  James warns us to not treat a person differently because of the new or older clothing they wear.  The Prophet Samuel was also warned to not draw conclusions based on a person’s size, strength or physical ability.

The Bible says that man looks on the outside, but God looks at the heart.  I wonder how often you and I are guilty of doing the opposite?  Do we form an opinion of a person by the clothes they wear or the color of their skin or by the kind of car they drive? I wonder if we disregard an older person because of the color of their gray hair or the number of wrinkles on their face? I wonder if we overlook a teen or young adult because of the clothes they wear and the way they talk?

Let me encourage you to not draw conclusions or form opinions of others because of their external characteristics.  We call this “prejudice”.  It means to pre-judge someone before you really get to know them. Let me encourage you to really get to know people.  Learn what is on the inside.  Listen to their words and opinions.  Observe their actions and see how they treat other people.  Look for the hidden qualities of their heart.  They will be glad you did and you will too!

 

Efree Church of Diamond Bar

3255 South Diamond Bar Blvd

(909) 594-7604

Sunday Services: 9:00 & 10:45 AM

EFreedb.org

Changing Times

By Pastor Mark Hopper

My grandmother was born in Boone, Iowa in 1896.  She died in 1978. She taught in a one-roomed country school house. Life sounded pretty simple in those days.

During her life time, she witnessed many changes.  She remembered seeing her first automobile.  She remembered electricity coming to her small farming community.

She remembered seeing her first airplane.  She remembered the invention of the radio and television.  There were so many advances in technology and science in her lifetime.

I’m sure she remembered the news of the first atomic bomb.  She lived through the days of the First and Second World Wars.  She would have known about the wars in Korea and Vietnam Nam.  All of these occurred in her lifetime.

And, I know she witnessed the space program from the launching of the first satellites to the landing of men on the moon in 1969.  Who could have imagined the changes during her life from the horse and buggie to a man on the moon?

The same could be said of our lifetime.  Who could have imagined all of the changes and advances in communication, travel and technology in our life time?

I remember my family getting our first TV in the 1950’s.  It was a small “black & white” TV with large “rabbit ears” for an antenna and a very limited number of channels to choose from.  Today, we have a flat screen TV with an unlimited number of cable channels to watch.  And, now you can live stream TV shows on your computer too.

Transportation has changed as well.  I wish I still had my first car.  I bought a used, two-door 1957 Chevy when I was sixteen years old…It was a gas guzzler with a four barrel carburetor.  Today, fuel injection has replaced the carburetor and many people are driving electric automobiles that can self-park!

I remember going to the airport to see propeller-driven planes.  The first jet passenger planes arrived in the 1960’s.  Now, modern jet airplanes can carry over 500 passengers from one continent to another.

The most amazing advances have been in communication.  When I was young, we had a telephone “party line” where four different homes shared one phone line.  It was a big deal when we could finally get our own private phone line.  Today, many people have abandoned a landline and simply use their cell phones.

Computers have changed our world.  In the 1940’s only the military had computers.  Later, large businesses began to use them.  By the 1980’s people could own a personal computer.  Today, we carry computers around with us and call them “smart phones”!

I wonder what changes are ahead for our children and grandchildren?  What advances will they see in travel and technology?  What new devices will improve their ability to communicate?  Only time will tell.

In the midst of all these changes, it is helpful to remember that God does not change.  The Bible speaks of His unchanging nature and attributes.  The Bible reveals God’s limitless power and knowledge.  He remains our firm foundation in a rapidly changing world.

Let me encourage you to dust off your Bible and read about God’s steadfast love and endless power.  Psalm 145 reflects on God’s power and majesty.  Take time to read and remember the One who made this amazing world we live in.

 

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

 

Playing Catch

By Pastor Mark Hopper

On a recent trip, my wife and I were able to visit some of our out-of-town grandchildren.  They have grown up so much since we saw them last summer.  It was delightful to spend time with them.

One grandson specifically requested that I bring a baseball and a glove so that we could play catch together.  He has a glove and a ball, but you need two to play catch.  I was glad to oblige.

One day we grabbed our gloves and a well worn baseball and walked to a nearby field.  It wasn’t a traditional baseball field.  It didn’t have a back stop, pitcher’s mound or bases.  But, it was covered with green grass and bright colored yellow wild flowers.   It looked more like a mountain meadow that a baseball diamond.

We started to play catch.  While we tossed the baseball back and forth, and we talked.  We talked about the weather and if it was likely to rain today.  We talked about how beautiful it was with the fresh green grass and beautiful flowers covering the field.

We talked about some of the unusual rules that there are in baseball.  For example, when you are batting and the catcher drops the ball on a third strike, you can still run to first base.  There is a rule that says if you bunt the third strike into foul territory you are automatically out.

There is a rule that says if the pitcher hits the batter with the ball, the batter automatically gets to go to first base.  And, there is another rule that says if a batter hits the ball over the outfield fence it is a home run, but if the ball bounces over the fence it is only a double.

We also talked about life.  We talked about what it was like to be nine years old.  We talked about his school and what he was learning. We also talked about his friends and what they are like.

I’m sure we talked about a lot more things.  We played catch for quite a while.  It was relaxing and casual.  He dropped a few throws but he caught most of them.  My grandson is a pretty good ball player.  Who knows, maybe he will be in the majors one day.

But, regardless of what the future holds, I will remember playing catch with my grandson for a long time.

Let me encourage you to make a plan and take some time to spend with someone special in your life.  It is not the activity that matters but spending time together.

Is there someone who has been asking you to do something with them recently?  Have you put it off because you are too busy to do it right now?  Don’t let the opportunity pass you by.  Make a plan and set aside some time to do something soon.  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

 

 

A Personal Touch

By Pastor Mark Hopper

 

It seems that whenever you call a local utility or cable provider, you get voice mail.  The voice on the other end of the line seems cheerful and friendly, but it’s just a computer that you’re talking to.

Recently, I called my local cable company to request a reduction in my monthly payment.  The friendly voice asked for my account number and other personal information.  After I entered the information the computer requested, I assumed I would be connected to a service representative.

But that was not the case.  Now the computer wanted to know why I was calling.  Did I need service or sales?  Did I have a technical problem, or did I have a problem with my billing?

My best strategy is to ask for “service” or just say “help.”  I repeat this over and over again into the phone, but the computer tries to cut me off and ask me additional questions.  I keep saying “help” and “representative,” hoping I can talk faster than the computer voice.

Then, the computer says, “I see you want to talk with a representative.”  The computer continues by saying, “If this is correct, press one. If this is not correct, press two.  I press “1”.

Finally, I have a real person on the phone.  He greets me enthusiastically.  He seems genuinely interested in my situation.  He wants to solve my problem.

I wonder if it wouldn’t be easier and faster if a real person had answered my call in the first place.  Why do I need to talk with a computer for five minutes when I still need a real person to solve my problem?

It is true that computers do help make our lives easier and our banking faster.  Computers can provide navigation for our cars and provide information at our finger tips.

But, there are some things that computers cannot do. There are problems that computers cannot solve.  We still need people.  People helping other people.

Let me encourage you to be more alert and aware of the people in your life.  Your co-workers family members and classmates are vital in your life.  Why not express your appreciation to some of them this week?  Tell them how much you appreciate their encouragement and support.  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

Easter Services: 8:30 / 10:00 / 11:30 AM

EFreedb.org

 

Golfing Fore The Kids

By Pastor Mark Hopper

 

I enjoy playing golf.  It requires skill, luck, and perseverance.  Many life lessons are found in golf:   how to overcome adversity; how to build character; how to help and encourage your fellow players.

Another nice thing about golf is that you can play the game throughout your life.  I enjoy seeing a mom or dad spending time on the putting green with their young children.  My son and I started playing golf together when he was in middle school and we still enjoy playing golf together today.

It is also nice to see golf teams from local high schools on the golf course.  Although each player keeps his or her own score, they compete as a team against other schools.  In fact, my own son is the boys’ golf coach at his high school.  This is his third year.

This year I am the co-chairman of our annual Walnut Valley Rotary Club – Diamond Bar Community Foundation golf tournament.  These two service organizations put this annual golf tournament together to raise funds that benefit children and youth in our local community.

The DBCF contributes funds for youth sports fields, academic scholarships, fine arts programs and much more.  The Rotary Club of Walnut Valley supports youth speech and music competitions, youth leadership camps and holiday food and toy distributions.  Both organizations make contributions to our local schools and both give away thousands of dollars each year to benefit children and youth in Diamond Bar, Walnut, and Rowland Heights.

Our annual “Golfing Fore The Kids” tournament will be on Monday, May 8th at the beautiful Western Hills Golf Course.  We are looking for more golfers to participate in this event.  The cost is $150 per player.  This includes 18 holes of golf plus Subway breakfast sandwiches, Chick- Fil-A chicken sandwiches, and a mid-afternoon dinner in the Western Hills dining room.

Participants will have the opportunity to win a new Car at the Hole in One par three.  Numerous raffle items will be given away at the end of the tournament.  It will be a great day to enjoy with your fellow golfers on this luxurious private golf course.

In addition, we are looking for more sponsors to support this community event.  Over the years, many local businesses and corporations have given financial support to this event.  Individual sponsors have also contributed to Golfing Fore the Kids.

You can learn more about “Golfing Fore The Kids” at the Diamond Bar Community Foundation web site.  Golfers can register online, too.

Please mark your calendar now and register this week to enjoy a wonderful day of golf on May 8th at the Western Hills Country Club. Check out our web site for all the information.  Invite some fellow golfers to join you for a memorable golf experience.  They will be glad you did and you will too!

 

The Clock On The Kitchen Wall

By Mark Hopper

We have clocks all over our house.  There are clocks in the bedrooms and in the living room.  There are also digital displays that show the time on our cable box and kitchen applicances.  Everyone who has a smart phone not only has a clock but also a calendar!

In our house, there is a clock on the kitchen wall.  It is simple and helpful.  It is round with a white trim and black numbers.  It even has a “second hand” if you remember what that is.

I can’t tell you haw many times a day I look at that kitchen clock.  When I am walking in from the garage, I usually look at the clock.  When I am eating my lunch or grabbing a snack, I look at that clock.  When I am rushing out the door to a meeting or appointment, I glance at that clock to see how late I am.

I love that clock.  I know it is old fashion and that there are many other places in our house where I can find out what time it is, but I find myself frequently looking across the room at that old, plastic clock in the kitchen.

Recently the unthinkable happened.  The clock in the kitchen stopped working.  The hands on the clock were not moving.  The “second hand” was not moving.  It was like time stood still.

The obvious solution was to replace the AA battery.  I used several old batteries that I found in a kitchen drawer, but they did not help.  I assumed that they were too old and probably had no battery life in them.

So, I went to the store and bought a new pack of AA batteries.  I knew this would fix the problem.  When I put in a fresh AA battery I was surprised to see that it was still not working.  Bummer!  Could it be that the new batteries that I just bought were not good?  I realized that was unlikely.  The logical conclusion was that our faithful kitchen clock was dead.

Our faithful friend was gone.  Every time I looked at the kitchen wall, I was reminded that the clock was gone.  I laughed at myself for how many times a day I looked in that direction wondering what time it was.  I didn’t think to look at the kitchen appliances.  I just kept glancing over looking for that old clock.

Today, we purchased a new clock for our kitchen.  The blank space on the wall is filled with a new clock.  It looks just like the old one and it cost less than five dollars (battery non included)!

Now I can look over my shoulder and find out what time it is.  There is something comforting having a clock on the wall.  I don’t need to buy a watch.  I don’t need to look at my smart phone.  My faithful friend on the wall always has the correct time.  And, if the power goes out at our house, that kitchen clock will keep on ticking.

March is daylight savings month. It is time to “spring ahead” one hour. This would be a perfect time to buy a clock for your kitchen, too.

Efree Church of Diamond Bar 3255 South Diamond Bar Blvd (909) 594-7604 Christmas Eve services: 4:30 & 6:00 PM Christmas Sunday services: 9:30 & 11:00 AM 

A Beautiful Drive

By Pastor Mark Hopper

The recent rains in Southern California have promoted a lot of interesting conversations.  People who enjoy winter sports have loved the record amount of snow fall.  Recently, I heard someone say that ski resorts may remain open until the 4th of July!

The rains have produced lush green hillsides in our communities.  Since we live in an arid environment, we expect to see hillsides that are brown and barren.  But not this year.  The hills are covered with lush, dark green grass and other vegetation.

One of the unexpected results of our recent rain are the beautiful wild flowers that are covering the desert landscape.  I have heard in the news that places Palm Spings and Borego Springs are covered with wild flowers.

Last week my son and I drove to Arizona during his spring break.  We wanted to see a Major League Baseball spring training game.  As we drove across the California and Arizona desert we were amazed to see beautiful wild flowers.

The highways were lined with bright yellow flowers and many hillsides were also covered, too.  The hillsides that faced South seemed to have an abundance of flowers of every color.

Who would expect to see this kind of beauty in the middle of the dessert?  How can you explain that a desert could produce this kind of abundant beauty?

A familiar phrase says, “April showers bring May flowers.”  But this year I think we could say that “Winter showers bring indescribable color to unexpected places.”  Not only are the hills alive with color, but so is the barren desert too!

Let me encourage you to take a ride and see this remarkable beauty before it is too late.  Why not visit a desert near you this week and see the beauty that is the product of our abundant rainfall this year.

You will be glad you did!

Efree Church of Diamond Bar, 3255 South Diamond Bar Blvd. (909) 594-7604. Sunday Services: 9:00 & 10:45 AM. Efreedb.org 

A Rabbit or A Rat?

Wkly - Hopper.jpgBy Pastor Mark Hopper

Our grandchildren love to have a Tea party at Grammie’s house.  They have a special set of Tea cups that depict the story of Peter Rabbit.  These young grandkids know the story by heart but they love to hear it again and again.

The story of Peter Rabbit is probably familiar to many of you.  When Peter’s mother goes in to town, she tells Peter and his brothers and sisters to not get into mischief.  She specifically warns them to not go into Mr. McGregor’s garden.

But, Peter does not obey his mother.  He goes to Mr. McGregor’s garden and can’t find his way out.  Mr. McGregor chases Peter with a shovel and a rake around the garden.  Peter tries to hide as Mr. McGregor searches to find him.  What will happen toPeter?

Recently, we had a similar story at our house.  One evening while my wife and I were watching TV we heard noises in our garage.

A plastic container was knocked over and a rake in the corner had fallen down.

We knew there was something alive in the garage, but we were not sure what it was.  The next morning we saw droppings on the garage floor and a puddle of urine, too.  We began to wonder – was it a rabbit or a rat?  Who was making all that noise and leaving all that mess in our garage?

We continued to hear noises again the next night, but we could not see anything.  When I arrived home after work the next day,   I finally found the answer.  As I pulled into the driveway and the garage door rolled up, I saw a large bunny rabbit in our garage starring at me!  I looked at him and he looked right back at me!

But, instead of running out the open door, he ran back behind some boxes and storage tubs in the back of our garage.  Bummer!  What should we do with this unwanted guest?

At first I thought I would just go into the house and leave the garage door open hoping he would make his escape.  But, then I realized I wouldn’t know if he really left or if he was still hiding in the garage.

I decided to take action.  I opened both the garage door and the side door that led out into the back yard.  I wanted to provide as many escape routes as possible.  Then I began removing the boxes and storage containers from the back of the garage.  I could hear the rabbit trying to hide and conceal himself.

Then I used a broom handle to gently coax this furry critter out of the corner and out one of the doors.  It was more difficult than I expected.  He dashed from one hiding place to another.  Either he didn’t want to leave or he couldn’t figure out which way to go.  He was a lot like Peter Rabbit!

Finally, the rabbit made a dash for the side door.  He was gone in a flash!  My efforts had succeeded.  The invader had been defeated!  My wife was impressed with my courage and skill as I dealt with this furry adversary.  I guess I was a lot like Mr. McGregor!

My wife and I were both relieved that it was a rabbit and not a rat.  We were thankful that we were able to get him out of our garage and thankful that he was not hurt.  Now we need to figure out a way to get him out of our back yard and back to where he belongs.  His mother is probably worried about him!

Efree Church of Diamond Bar, 3255 South Diamond Bar Blvd. (909) 594-7604. Sunday Services: 9:00 & 10:45 AM. Efreedb.org 

Meet Me at In N Out

Pastor Mark Hopper

Pastor Mark Hopper

By Mark Hopper

One of my favorite lunch spots is In N Out Burger.  The prices are right and the food is great.  I love their burgers, fries and chocolate shakes too!

Recently I arranged to meet a guy for lunch to discuss a project he was working on.  He works down in Orange County so we decided to meet somewhere half way between his office and my office in Diamond Bar.

I suggested we meet at In N Out on Chapman Avenue.  He agreed.  It seemed like a simple and clear plan.

However, did you know there are actually two Chapman Avenues in Orange County?  One Chapman Avenue is in Fullerton near the campus of Cal State Fullerton just west of the 57 Freeway.

The other Chapman Avenue is in the city of Orange and extends from west of the 57 Freeway to east of the 55 Freeway.

And, to make matters worse, there are In N Out Burgers on both Chapman Avenues!

I’m sure that you already know what happened.  I drove from my office down the 57 Freeway to the In N Out by the Cal State Campus.  My friend drove from his office to the In N Out restaurant which is on the Chapman Avenue that is east of the 55 Freeway.

He was looking for me and I was waiting for him.  Both of us were on time and both of us were at In N Out Burger, but we were miles apart at different locations.

I was thankful that we both had our cell phones with us.  He called wondering where I was and I told him that I was looking for him too.

When we realized what happened, I jumped back into my car and drove to the location where he was waiting.  We enjoyed our time together and the good food, too.

I wonder if this happens in other areas of life.  Married couples think they have reached an agreement on something only to find out that their spouse had a different plan in mind.

I’m sure this happens in business too.  A supplier may think he is correctly filling an order from a customer,  but the customer may have actually requested a different size or product.

There can be misunderstanding and miscommunication in many areas of our lives.  We need to be clear and specific when agreeing on a plan of action.

Let me encourage you to be clear in what you say and clarify what you think others have said.  Effective communication is vital in every area of our lives.

I wonder if there is an In N Out “app” that I can add to my phone so that the next time I make a important  lunch appointment I will know where I am going?

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 Pink Donut

Pastor Mark Hopper

Pastor Mark Hopper

By Mark Hopper

Recently our granddaughter had a sleep over at our house.  We were glad she could come.

This cute three year old arrived at our house confidently pulling her small carry-on size suitcase.  She was excited to come to Grammy’s and Pop Pop’s house.

She enjoyed playing with some toys, some dolls and the small wooden train that we have.

Bath time went smoothly and we read several bed time stories.

Grammy noticed that our granddaughter’s pajamas had donuts printed on them.  The design included different sizes  and different colors.

The donuts became a topic of conversation as she got ready for bed.  Grammy asked if our granddaughter would like to have a donut as part of her breakfast in the morning.

That sounded like a good idea.  “What color donut would you like”, Grammy asked?  “Pink”, she replied.

I think our granddaughter had sweet dreams that night!  I bet there were pink donuts in her dreams.

Who do you think was going out to find a pink donut early in the morning?  Clearly that was my assignment.  Don’t come home without it!

Thankfully, we have a nice donut shop near our home.  The owner and I are on a first name basis.  I have many bought boxes of donuts from him for many early morning meetings at our church.

I was pleased to discover that he had several different types of pink donuts!  Some had sprinkles and others had pink frosting only.  Some were decorated for Halloween.

I took a chance and went for the pink with white sprinkles.  It was a winner!

Since we didn’t want our granddaughter to eat alone, I got a donut for my wife and me too.  My wife got chocolate covered and I got an old fashioned glazed.

I’m sure that we were violating all of the dietary guidelines published by the US government by serving our granddaughter a donut for breakfast.  I’m sure that her parents would prefer we provided a more balanced breakfast, too.

But, I’m also sure that this is a breakfast that two grandparents will remember for a long time!

Pastor Mark Hopper is from the Evangelical Free Church of Diamond Bar, 3255 South Diamond Bar Blvd.  Sunday services are 9 a.m. and 10:45 a.m.  For more information, call (909) 594-7604 or visit Efreedb.org

 

Autumn Leaves

Pastor Mark Hopper

Pastor Mark Hopper

By Mark Hopper

My wife and I have dreamed for many years of going to New England to see the autumn colors.  This year we finally did it!

We flew into Boston and drove to a small town in southern Vermont.   We stayed at a cozy Bed & Breakfast hosted by a delightful couple.

The next morning, we were excited to see the many colors of autumn leaves right outside our bedroom window.

After a homemade breakfast, we drove north along state highway 100 up into the Green Mountains.  We learned later the name Vermont is the French word for green mountains!

We enjoyed a casual drive along the country roads.  The colors were amazing!  We took picture after picture but they did not accurately.capture the fabulous scenery.

After two nights in Vermont we drove on to northern New Hampshire.  We chose the famous Kancamagus Highway which threads its way from the Vermont border to Conway, New Hampshire.

This is one of the most popular scenic highways in New England.  The small, two-lane highway was lined with trees in full color.  They were bright red, sparkling yellow, brilliant orange and autumn gold.

During our two days in New Hampshire, we drove further north into the White Mountains and were amazed to see complete hillsides filled with color beyond description.  It was amazing!

It was like a symphony of color as far as you could see.  Every turn in the road revealed more spectacular beauty.  The hills really were alive with color and beauty.

We were fortunate to have great fall weather, too.  The clear blue skies and bright sunlight added to the vibrancy of the colors.

My wife and I ran out of words to describe the beauty of what we saw during those few days in New England.  It is a time we will never forget.

As we reflected on the beauty of the fall leaves, we were reminded of the creativity of God.  The Bible says that God created the universe and the world we inhabit.  His infinite power created the changes of the seasons and the beauty of our world.

In Psalm 19, it says, “The heavens declare the glory of God and the earth is His handiwork”.  I realize you may not have the opportunity to visit New England during the fall.

But, I hope you will watch for some autumn leaves in your neighborhood this year.  Take a moment to appreciate their beauty.  They remind us of His handiwork!

Pastor Mark Hopper is from the Evangelical Free Church of Diamond Bar, 3255 South Diamond Bar Blvd.  Sunday services are 9 a.m. and 10:45 a.m.  For more information, call (909) 594-7604 or visit Efreedb.org.

Turn On Your Headlights

mark-hopper-color-2x2By Mark Hopper

I have noticed that more and more cars are on the road with their headlights off.  This is especially dangerous in the early evening and as it gets dark outside.

I saw another car this evening driving dangerously with its headlights off and the driver seemed totally unaware.

Apparently, newer cars have a feature that turns the dashboard lights on inside these new cars, but the outside lights do not come on automatically.

In the good old days, the inside dashboard lights only came on when the driver turned on the outside headlights.  If it was dark inside the car, the driver realized that his headlights were not on either.

This new technology has created some very dangerous driving conditions.  I have seen many people driving with their headlights off.  But, because their inside lights are on, they don’t realize their headlights are not!

There is a passage in the Bible that relates this problem to our own lives.  In Matthew chapter seven, Jesus says that before we try to take a speck out of someone else’s eye, we need to remove the log in our own eye (Matthew 7:1-5),

In other words, before we point out the faults in the lives of other people, we should take a careful look at our own life and examine the faults in our own life

It is easy for us to notice when another car does not have its headlights turned on.  But, often we are not aware that our own headlights are off!

Two things cause serious problems in marriage.  The number one problem is a selfish attitude.  When people are selfish, a marriage will suffer.

The second major problem in many marriages is a critical attitude.  When one spouse focuses on the faults of the other, their marriage will suffer.

Before you start criticizing your spouse, stop and look in the mirror and see if there are things that you need to change in your own life.  As Jesus said in Matthew chapter seven, take the log out of your own eye first!

Let me encourage you to pay closer attention when you are driving.  Make sure your headlights are on when you drive in the evening and night.  For your safety and the safety of others.

And, when you are experiencing conflict in your marriage or other relationships, check your headlights first.  Are your headlights on?  There may be  some changes that you first need to make in your life!

Pastor Mark Hopper is from the Evangelical Free Church of Diamond Bar, 3255 South Diamond Bar Blvd.  Sunday services are 9 a.m. and 10:45 a.m.  For more information, call (909) 594-7604 or visit Efreedb.org.

 

What Rain?

mark-hopper-color-2x2By Mark Hopper

Recently my wife and I drove to Arizona to visit some of her family and connect with old some friends.  The skies were clear and the weather was not as hot as we expected.

The day after we arrived, the weather forecaster predicted a 10% chance of rain.  Apparently there was a small hurricane south of Cabo San Lucas that was spinning moisture north toward Arizona.

The weather man predicated heavy rain along the Colorado River with possible flooding near Las Vegas.  But it looked unlikely that we would see any rain in the Phoenix area.

However, as we got into our car to drive across town, we noticed some serious looking clouds in the west.  But, we did not worry since we were going south not west.

Suddenly, the storm reached us and a heavy rain came pouring down.  We actually waited in the parking lot until the heavy rain subsided.   It rained cats and dogs for fifteen minutes.  Crazy!

When the rain finally began to let up, we ventured out toward our destination.  Major intersections were flooded and the traffic on the freeway crept along at a snail’s pace due to the accumulation of water on the roads.

However, as we drove south toward Tempe and Chandler, we noticed that the rain began to let up and patches of blue sky peeked through the clouds.

By the time we got to our destination 20 minutes later,  there wasn’t a drop of water anywhere.  The roads were completely dry.

We had called our hosts to warn them that we expected to be late, but they did not have one drop of rain at their house.

Our hosts were glad to see us, but they asked us one question, “What rain”?  They didn’t see a drop on their side of town.

There is a story in the Bible about a man named Elijah in First Kings chapter 18.  There had been a severe drought in Israel and no rain for three years.  But, in this passage, Elijah warns the King that heavy rains are coming.

This prediction seemed impossible.  The skies were clear.  The drought had crippled their economy and exhausted the people.

I’m sure the King and his people thought to themselves, “What rain”?

The passage records that only hours later, there was a major rain storm that swept across the land of Israel.  The prophet’s prediction had come true.

Let me encourage you to keep you eyes open when you are traveling through Arizona.  As you drive across the desert, rain seems pretty unlikely.  Maybe only 10%.  But, don’t get caught by surprise.  Desert thunderstorms can come quickly and unexpectedly.

I hope we’ll soon see some of that wet stuff in California, too!

 

The Worms Are Back

mark-hopper-color-2x2Mark Hopper

This has been a long, hot summer.  Recently, we have enjoyed cooler weather in Southern California, but the hot summer weather took a toll on my vegetable garden.

The tomato plants produced very few tomatoes during the hot summer months.  But, now the plants look better and there are more blossoms again.  I hope we are in for a second harvest in the weeks ahead.

But, there is a new adversary in the garden.  Along with new green leaves and tiny new blossoms are some big, ugly green worms.

These green tomato worms have a large horn on their head.  They blend in with the green leaves and are very hard to see.

I am not sure where they come from or how they get into my garden, but I suspect that some butterfly’s may be responsible.

Two ways I can tell that the worms are back are the black droppings that they leave behind and the twigs that they have consumed.

These ugly, green worms can devastate a healthy plant very quickly.  They must eat night and day.

I don’t like to use bug spray in my garden.  My best way to get rid of the worms is to pull off the branch they are eating and toss it and the worm in the trash.

I have been vigilant, keeping an eye out for these determined adversaries.  It is man against nature.  It seems like nature and the worms are winning.

If you have had any success against these green tomato worms, please let me know.  If you have a homemade or secret remedy, I would like to hear from you.

Raising healthy tomatoes is more difficult than you think.  The little seeds that I planted last spring have grown into big, healthy plants.  They have survived the heat of summer and seem to be ready to produce a new crop.  But, the worms are back – they seemed determined to prevail.

Pastor Mark Hopper is from the Evangelical Free Church of Diamond Bar, 3255 South Diamond Bar Blvd.  Sunday services are 9 a.m. and 10:45 a.m.  For more information, call (909) 594-7604 or visit Efreedb.org.