Tag Archives: Mark Hopper

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

Another Consumer Conspiracy

Pastor Mark Hopper of Efree Church in Diamond Bar

By Mark Hopper

     A few years ago, I wrote an article about how food manufactures were reducing the size of their packaging but not reducing the prices they charge for their product.

     The most obvious example was with ice cream.  In the old days, a standard carton of ice cream was a half-gallon or 64 ounces.  If you went to the store to get a “carton” of ice cream, you knew you were purchasing a “half-gallon” – 64 ounces.

     But, sometime during the past decade, ice cream manufactures reduced the size of their packages to three pints or 48 ounces.  The carton of ice cream looked similar, but the content was 25% less and the price has remained the same!

     In the last five years, the orange juice companies changed the size of their packaging, too.  One day I discovered that the “Half-gallon” (64 ounces) of orange juice had been reduced to 59 ounces.  Again, the packaging looked so similar that you didn’t really notice unless you read the fine print on the container.  The price did not go down, but the volume was 10% less.

     Recently, when I was shopping at a local market, I noticed that my favorite orange juice carton looked a little different.  The package looked similar but a bit smaller.  When I read the fine print, I discovered that the new carton of orange juice was now 52 ounces!  They reduced the volume by another 10% but the price was still the same!

     I suspect there is a conspiracy going on between food manufacturers and grocery stores.  Their strategy is to reduce the volume or content of their products but not reduce the prices they charge.  I think they assume that the average customer will not notice the difference.

     I believe we need a congressional investigation!  Where is the Consumer Product Safety Commission when we need it?  Where are the government watch dogs who are supposed to protect us from misleading and false advertising?

     What will be next?  Will grocers start packaging egg cartons with only 10 eggs?  Will they start altering the scales in the produce section so that a five pound bag of potatoes will only contain 4 1/2 pounds?  Will the pound of ground beef be reduced by 10%?

Where will this conspiracy end?

     There is a passage in the Old Testament that warns against defrauding others.  “Do not have two different weights in your bag – a heavy one and a lighter one.  Do not have two different measuring cups – one large and one smaller.  You must have accurate and honest weights and measures (when you buy and sell) (Deuteronomy 25:13-15).

     You have heard the phrase “Buyer Beware”.  That is still true today.  Let me encourage you to read the labels carefully at your grocery store.  Read the fine print that tells you the real size and weight of the contents.  Don’t be misled or confused.   And, you may want to write to your local Congressman and request a Congressional investigation, too!

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

Courage and Confidence

By Mark Hopper

     Recently, we learned that one of our grandchildren was elected “president” of her classroom.  She is in the fourth grade.  This was quite an honor to be selected by her young peers. Apparently, each classroom was asked to elect one person to represent their class.  She was selected.

     First, the teacher asked who would like to be president of their classroom.  Almost every student said they would.  Then the teacher instructed each student to write down the name of one person – but they could not vote for themselves.  When the votes were counted, our granddaughter was voted to be the president of her classroom.

     I’m sure that this was a surprise to her.  I suspect it was also a confidence booster, too.  It is both affirming and encouraging to be selected by your peers to serve as their leader and representative.

     Many years ago when my wife and I were in  high school we received a similar honor.  My wife was voted freshman class secretary and I was voted freshman class president at Scottsdale High School.  In our senior year, she would be elected to be the Student Body Secretary and I was elected Student Body President of Saguaro High School.  

     Between those two milestones I attended a leadership workshop with other high school students at Arizona State University.  During this one week leadership training program, we were organized into 6-8 groups with about 15-20 students in each group.  We had to work together as a team and fulfill specific tasks assigned to each group during the week.

     Throughout the week we learned valuable lessons on leadership.  Guest speakers taught us how to lead others and how to work together to accomplish our goals.  Most of the students were seniors and were already elected leaders in student government in their own high schools.  However, I was younger than most of the others.  I would be starting my Junior year at a brand new high school.  We didn’t even have a student government yet.

     That is why I was surprised when my team elected me to be the president of our group.  I don’t remember if our group won first place at the end of the week, but I do know that it literally changed my life.  When I was selected to be the president of our team by other, older student leaders, it gave me new confidence and courage that I could lead others.

     I think most of us struggle with self-confidence.  We wonder if we are really qualified and capable to lead others.  Will other people really follow and support you as a leader?  Do other people at work, school, or sports follow your lead?

     In my opinion, leadership requires courage and confidence.  A wise leader is not a dictator.  An effective leader is a servant and a shepherd.  A good leader provides vision and direction and invites others to join in the journey.  He listens to the contributions of others and embraces their ideas and desires, too.

     Jesus emphasized that the most effective leaders are servant leaders.  Jesus said that, He did not come to be served, but to serve and to give his life for others (Mark 10:45).  The Apostle Paul said leaders need to put the needs of others ahead of their own needs and desires (Philippians 2:3-5).  

     That one-week workshop at ASU strengthened and deepened my confidence that I could lead others.  It changed my life.  I wonder if my granddaughter will feel the same way as she leads her fourth grade class this year?

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

A Little Light Goes A Long Way

By Mark Hopper

During our tour in Israel, we were given the opportunity to walk through Hezekiah’s tunnel in the city of Jerusalem.  Around 700 BC, the city of Jerusalem was threatened by the powerful Assyrian army.  The Assyrians were one of the most powerful nations in the Middle East at that time.  Their empire was centered where Iran and Iraq are today.  Their capital was the city of Nineveh.

 

The Assyrians had already defeated the northern half of Israel and were poised to attack the southern area called Judah.  Jerusalem was the capital of the southern kingdom.  A large wall protected the city.  A common military tactic in those days was to besiege a walled city until it ran out of food and water forcing the inhabitants to surrender.

 

King Hezekiah knew that a reliable source of water would be essential to withstand a long siege by the Assyrians.  He directed his engineers and workers to dig a long tunnel from a spring outside the city to provide the water that would be needed to survive behind the city walls.  It was a remarkable engineering feat to create this tunnel with just hammer and chisel.

 

The source of the water and the entrance to the tunnel outside the city walls was concealed so effectively that the enemy never found it.  In fact, the source of the water was only discovered in the 1800’s!  The tunnel had to be designed with a slight slope so that the water would run down hill and deep under the walls to bring water to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.  Water still flows in this tunnel today!

 

Tourists are allowed to walk through this tunnel beneath the city of Jerusalem.  The water level is only one to two feet deep.  The tunnel is only about the width of one person and barely high enough to stand upright.  And, the tunnel is very dark.  In fact, you can’t see the person walking in front of you.  You can hear them, but you can’t see anything.

 

Thankfully, they sell small, inexpensive flashlights at the gift shop near the tunnel entrance.  I usually don’t purchase trinkets and small souvenirs when we travel, but I was glad I spent $2 to by a flashlight.  It was the best two dollars I have ever spent!

 

My friend and I were the last two people in our group to enter the water tunnel.  We were glad we wore water shoes as we started to walk down the dark tunnel.   We were delayed a bit as we put our shoes on and quickly fell behind our group.  We could hear them ahead of us, but we couldn’t see them at all.  The narrow tunnel twisted and turned in the darkness.  The bottom and sides were rough.

 

I quickly learned that my friend had not purchased a flashlight.  I had the only one.  It was pitch black, but my little two-dollar flashlight really helped us navigate our 30 minute walk through the tunnel.  It was amazing how one little light illuminated our path.  I don’t know how we would have made it if we didn’t have that one little flashlight.

 

Jesus told his followers that they are “lights in this world” and that they were to “let their light shine” so that people would see their good works and be drawn to follow Jesus, too (Matthew 5:16).  When you and I help others and serve those around us, we are like a small light in a dark world.  Radom acts of kindness and thoughtful, encouraging words can brighten someone’s day and make their lives better.

 

We don’t need to be “in the spot light” and draw attention to ourselves.  We are called to bring a little light into the lives of those around us.  A little light goes a long way.  Let me encourage you to look for ways to encourage and help people around you.  Even a $2 flashlight can make a big difference in a dark place.  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

 

Indiana Jones Was Here

By Mark Hopper

Some of my favorite movies are the ones with Harrison Ford as the lead actor “Indiana Jones”.  His first adventure was the “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and another one was “The Last Crusade”.

I know that Disneyland has an Indiana Jones ride which is a lot of fun.  But, recently, my wife and I got to see the actual location of the closing scene of the “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” movie.

The location is in the mountains of southern Jordan in the city of Petra.  The word “Petra” means rock in Greek.  Petra was an important city along a couple of trade routes in ancient times.  Traders going north from the Red Sea would pass through Petra.  And, caravans going east and west would pass through here, too.

Petra has a number of building facades that are carved into the red sand stone in a narrow canyon.  Petra is listed as one of the seven man-made wonders of the ancient world along with places like the Taj Majal and the Great Wall of China.

The scene in the Indiana Jones movie is in front of what is called the Treasury building.  It is not actually a building, just the face of a building.  I don’t remember the demnsions but it must be at least 75-100 feet high.  This huge facade was carved out of the face of a cliff in Petra with hammer and chisel.  I don’t know how long it took the workmen to make this, but it is remarkable.

In our country we have Mt. Rushmore with the faces of four presidents.  It took a number of years to carve this imposing memorial.  They used pneumatic jack-hammers and other power tools to create Mt. Rushmore in the Black Hills of western South Dakota.  It is definitely worth seeing this man-made monument to some of our nation’s greatest leaders.

Petra is an even more remarkable man-made project created by people who did not have the power tools or modern technology that we have today. They basically used hammer and chisel to create this imposing project.  The workmanship and details are amazing.  It was a wonderful experience to see it in person.

There is a verse in the Bible that says, “We are God’s workmanship” (Ephesisians 2:10).  In the Living Bible it says, “It is God Himself who has made us what we are and He has given us new lives from Christ Jesus…and He planned that we should spend these lives helping others”.  God did not carve us out of stone, but he created us as living beings so that we would serve Him and serve others.

Places like Petra and Mt. Rushmore are remarkable to see and admire.  But, people like you and me have gifts and abilities from God to serve Him and others.  We were created to be living proof of a loving God.  I hope you will look for opportunities this week to serve God and serve others.  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

 

30 Years (Part One)

By Mark Hopper

Thirty years is a long time. It is almost a third of a century. But, that is how long we have lived in Diamond Bar, California. I began my new job as the pastor of our church on June 1, 1988 – 30 years ago. My wife and kids stayed in Arizona waiting for our house to sell while I began work at the church. I lived by myself in a condo near Pathfinder and Diamond Bar Blvd.  The condo belonged to a widow who was in poor health and she was living with her family. So I was on my own for about six weeks.

Although I missed my family during that time, I had a lot of time to get to know the community and people in the church.  I was able to visit most of the church families and several of them invited me to dinner in their homes.  In addition, I enjoyed delicious chocolate chip cookies and other snacks that came to my door during those days.

When our house finally sold in Arizona, I flew home to pack up and move to California.  With four kids and a four bedroom house, we had a lot of stuff to move.  We rented a U-Haul Truck – the biggest they made towing the biggest trailer they made!  Friends in Arizona helped us load everything in to the truck and trailer and new friends in California helped us unload it.  We could not have done it without their help.

We moved into the Daisy apartments (now the Hillside apartments) on Grand Avenue across from the Fire station.  We unloaded some things into this two bedroom apartment, but most of our things would need to be put in storage.  When I drove this giant truck and trailer down the exit driveway, it got stuck.  The trailer hitch got caught on the pavement and the back wheels of the truck were lifted off the ground.  The truck was stuck and we couldn’t move!  It was quite a sight.

I ran over to the fire station and asked for help, but they didn’t know what to do either.  Finally, I called the U-Haul hot line and they sent a tow truck from Sana Ana to help.  The tow truck driver hitched a heavy chain on to the front bumper of the truck. The firemen blocked oncoming traffic and the tow truck dragged us down the driveway and on to Grand Avenue while I was sitting in the truck using the brakes so I wouldn’t hit the tow truck in front of me.  It was a memorable start to our new life in Diamond Bar.

Our life at the Daisy apartment was fun.  It felt like we were on vacation.  It was a little crowded with four kids and two adults, but it had a pool, spa and tennis court.  I would go to work each day and my wife and kids enjoyed “vacation” at the Daisy apartments!

I usually took Monday as my day off, so we began to go to the beach on Mondays.  We usually went to Newport Beach and we usually stopped at Thrifty Drug store to get a scoop of ice cream on the way to the beach.  This became a weekly routine. Eventually the kids began to invite friends to come with us. The summer of ‘88 was a summer to remember.

In the first book in the Bible (Genesis) there is the record of Abraham leaving his home in Ur near the Persian Gulf and traveling to a land called Canaan (Israel).  The Bible says that Abraham went in faith, following the call of God on his life.  Abraham packed up his family and his possessions and traveled to a land he had never seen before.  It was a journey of faith.

We packed up our family and our possessions and traveled to a community we had never heard of called Diamond Bar.  It was a journey of faith for us too.  We are thankful that the Lord led us to this special community and to this special church.

Pastor Mark Hopper

Efree Church of Diamond Bar

3255 South Diamond Bar Blvd

909-594-7604

Sunday Services: 9:00 & 10:45

 

Stuck on the 405

By Mark Hopper

Recently, my sister in law’s car broke down while she was driving on the 405 Freeway.  Bummer! She had spent a few days with her grandchildren in San Diego and was driving home to in Bakersfield when her Nissan began to sputter and finally died in the middle of the north bound 405 Freeway!

Thankfully no one hit her as her car slowed to a stop in the middle of afternoon traffic. A helpful stranger pushed her car to the side of the freeway and she called 911 and AAA for help.  The CHP office arrived quickly and parked his cruiser behind her car to protect her from the rush hour traffic. The tow truck arrived and asked her where she wanted to go for repairs.

While all of this is unfolding on the 405, my brother called me and asked if I could go help his wife. He knew she had broken down on the 405 Freeway but he was not sure exactly where she was. After a flurry of cell phone calls with his wife and with me, he decided to have her car towed to our house in Diamond Bar.

He asked me if I knew a good mechanic who could analyze the situation and if his wife could stay with us until her car could be repaired. Unfortunately, when I called a reliable mechanic that we often recommend, he was unable to help. He was overbooked with work and his co-worker was gone for the week.

As the tow truck slowly made its way in rush hour traffic toward Diamond Bar, I realized that it would drive past a Nissan dealer on the 60 Freeway. Maybe he should take the car there and ask them to diagnose the problem? I could meet my sister in law there and we could decide what to do.

We didn’t know how late the car dealer and service department would be open late in the afternoon, but they responded quickly and assured us that they could repair the car quickly. The diagnostics would cost about $125 plus the parts and labor. The service advisor encouraged us to go find some dinner and come back in about an hour. They would call us if there was any unexpected problems.

While we ate dinner, we prayed that the repairs would be done quickly and that it would not cost too much.  My sister in law was hoping to get back on the road and get home so she could teach school the next day.

When we returned to the car dealer, we went to the cashier’s office to pay for the repair work. But, the cashier didn’t have the paper work so she told us to go back and talk with the service advisor. He explained that the repair was actually very simple. An air intake hose had come loose and they actually found the missing part laying on the engine. They simply put the part back together with a new hose clamp!

When we asked how much this cost he said, “No charge”! At first we weren’t sure we heard him correctly – did he say “No charge”? Yes – the missing part was still there and a simple hose clamp reconnected everything and the car was running fine. “No charge”. We were stunned and very thankful for this unexpected outcome. Amazing!

My sister in law was able to get back on the freeway and continue her journey home. She arrived safe and sound later that night. My sister in law had quite an adventure. From broken down in the middle of the 405 Freeway and towed 40 miles to a very helpful car dealer and back on the road without a scratch or paying a penny – pretty amazing.

By the way, did I tell you the name of the service advisor who was so helpful? His name was “Jesus”. No kidding! I thought Jesus was a carpenter by trade, but I guess he is in the car repair business 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

 

The Final Four

By Mark Hopper

The Final Four championship of the NCAA Men’s basketball tournament was held in San Antonio, Texas a few weeks ago in the huge Alamo Dome. I actually attended the Final Four At that same location about 20 years ago.  It was a great experience that I still remember. Unfortunately, my favorite college teams were not there then and they were not there again this year.

One of my favorite memories from my Final Four experience was the plane ride back home to California. I had traveled with a couple of college basketball coaches. We flew on my favorite airline – Southwest. Twenty years ago, some of the Southwest planes had seats that faced each other. We ended up in the back of the plane facing three other gentlemen flying back to LA.

We had a fascinating conversation with the men sitting across from us. One of them had actually played basketball for USC many years earlier. His name was David Price. After college and law school, he eventually developed a business managing golf courses. He was the owner of American Golf. His company owned or managed over 200 golf courses across the country!

He was a quiet and unassuming man. I would have never guessed that the man sitting across from me in the back of a crowed airplane owned and managed golf courses. I even asked him why he didn’t have his own plane? He said that he did at one time but it wasn’t very cost effective.

We not only talked about his business success, we also talked about his personal life and faith. He shared with us how he had become a follower of Jesus through the influence of some teenagers that he met at a local gym.

He also shared a story of how he was led to invest some of his wealth in a new Christian school that was starting in Thousand Oaks. Some friends had challenged him to contribute to this project, but he saw no reason to help build a school. His children were already grown. Why should he help?

Eventually, he did contribute to the cause. Today, Oaks Christian High School is one of the athletic powerhouses in Southern California. And, although his own children were too old to attend, eventually some of his grandchildren did!

When we finally arrive back in LA, he gave me one of his business cards and invited me to play a round of golf at one of his courses. He instructed me to call his secretary and she would arrange it.

A few days later, I wrote him a thank you note and told him how much I enjoyed our conversation.  I also told him that my father in law was a golfer and was coming to LA. I shared with Mr. Price that what I would really love to do would be to play a round of golf with him and my father in law.

He wrote back and thanked me for my note and expressed how much he enjoyed our conversation on the airplane, too. However, he didn’t think my idea would work out because although he owned and managed many golf courses across the country – he didn’t play golf! Amazing!

You may not be a golfer either, but I hope you are a follower of Jesus. Young and old, wealthy and poor – everyone is welcome to follow Him!

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

 

Bumper Crop

By Mark Hopper

I always say that the nicest days in California are the days after it has rained. We have enjoyed some beautiful weather the past few weeks thanks to string of winter storms that brought blue skies, white puffy clouds and crystal clean air. It reminds you why Southern California is such a nice place to live.

The rain also causes our hillsides to turn green. We get accustomed to the brown scenery most of the year. It is amazing to see the parched hillsides transformed with beautiful dark green vegetation. The snow capped peaks add a lovely contrast that makes the picture complete. Blue skies, green hillsides and fresh snow covered mountain tops complete the painting.

However, I have noticed that all the winter rain has also produced a bumper crop of dark green weeds in my garden. I think I pulled out more weeds from my garden this year than any in recent history. They were big, healthy weeds that covered most of my winter strawberry plants.

Many of these healthy weeds were six to eight inches high! Where did they come from? How did they grow so fast?  Who is responsible for this weed epidemic? I suppose I share most of the responsibility since I didn’t go out to the garden during the last few rain filled weeks. I’m sure that my absence and neglect contributed to the weed infestation.

It took me a couple of hours to pull all of the weeds out. It didn’t completely fill my “green” garbage can, but I was surprised at how much space it did fill up. Hopefully the trash company will appreciate my efforts and recycle all of this “green” material. It really was a bumper crop of weeds this year.

One problem with weeds is that they have seeds. They reproduce like rabbits and they keep coming back. Gardening is an unending struggle against the forces of nature. It is a fact of life that weeds produce seeds and those seeds keep producing more weeds!

Did you know that weeds are actually mentioned in the Bible? The early chapters of Genesis provide a remarkable account of how God created the world and the people, plants and animals that live on the earth. God provided food for all living things. But, when the man (Adam) disobeyed God, the man had to start raising his own food and so the struggle began – man verses weeds!

The Bible says, “The ground will sprout thorns and weeds, you will get your food the hard way, planting and tilling and harvesting, sweating in the fields from dawn to dusk” (Genesis 3:18-19 – from the Message Bible).

This is a helpful reminder. Our actions and decisions have consequences. When we do things that we know we should not do or when we don’t do things that we know we should do – there are consequences. When I neglect my garden, weeds gain a foothold and multiply. When I take time to tend my garden, the weeds are held at bay and we enjoy the fresh strawberries, tomatoes  and other vegetables.

This is true in our relationship with God and with other people. When we cultivate our relationships with God and others, we enjoy the benefits and blessings. When we neglect our relationship with God and others, we experience the consequences.

Let me encourage you to invest more of your time and energy in your relationship with God and with others. Don’t let the “weeds” get the upper hand. 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