Story of the Day for Friday May 17, 2013
Leave Room for God to Surprise You
As Jesus walked along the lake of Galilee he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting nets in the lake — for they were fishermen. And Jesus said, “Come, follow me . . .”
Steven Spielberg has been called the greatest film director of all time. He has twice won the Academy Award for Best Director. You can hardly read through the list of his blockbuster movies without having to take a bathroom break.
When Spielberg was about six or seven, his dad told him, “I’m going to take you to see the greatest show on earth.”
The circus! Little Steven couldn’t wait.
They drove from New Jersey to Philadelphia and waited in a long line. As they went through the entrance Steven expected to find a tent with bleacher seats. Instead, he found himself in a dimly lit room with comfy seats. A large, red curtain opened, the lights went down, and a flickering, grainy image appeared on a screen.
Steven Spielberg was watching the first movie of his life: Cecil B. DeMille’s “The Greatest Show on Earth.”
The young boy felt betrayed, but his indignation quickly evaporated. “I was no longer in a theater; I was no longer in a seat — I wasn’t aware of the surroundings . . . I became part of an experience.”
The movie featured a spectacular train wreck. A speeding train smashed into a vehicle on the tracks. The actual filming of the scene was done with a model train, but to Spielberg “it was as real as I’ve seen anything in my life.”
From that moment on, Spielberg knew what he wanted . . . a Lionel electric train. The year after he got his first train set he asked his dad for another one. He was obsessed with trains.
Once he had two train engines he set about recreating the wreck in the Cecil B. DeMille movie. He crashed the trains into each other and broke them. His dad had them repaired and the next week he crashed and broke them again.
“Look!” Steven’s dad threatened, “I’m going to take the trains away from you if you crash them into each other one more time.”
Steven wanted to watch train wrecks but didn’t want to lose his train set. So, he grabbed his dad’s 8mm Kodak camera and filmed one of his trains barreling down the tracks toward the camera. He turned off the camera, switched camera angles and filmed the other train coming from the other direction. Then he filmed a crash sequence.
“That’s how,” Spielberg recalled, “I made my first movie.”
The threat of losing his Lionel train set turned Spielberg into a movie maker.
If you want to make God laugh, the old axiom goes, tell him your plans. Our lives never follow the scripts we write for our future. We might as well leave room for God to surprise us because he’s going to do it anyway.
Have you told God your plans? Has he surprised you lately? Tell us all about it in the comments below. Thanks.
Posted in Bible teaching, devotional, Faith Journey, motivation | Tagged "The Greatest Show on Earth", Academy Award for Best Director, Cecil B DeMille, cecil b demille movie, film making, God surprise you, Greatest Show on Earth, Kodak 8mm, Lionel electric train, movie making, Steven Spielberg, train engines | Leave a Comment »
Story of the Day for Thursday May 16, 2013
Jesus said, “Why do you nullify the command of God for the sake of your tradition?”
While many in the American colonies considered the Indians to be savage sub-humans, William Penn always treated them with kindness and respect. He learned their language so he could talk to them without an interpreter.
Even though he bought land from King Charles II of England, and named it “Penn’s forest,” or “Pennsylvania,” he realized the land was inhabited by the Delaware tribes, and bought the land a second time from the Indians. Penn purchased land west and north of Philadelphia “as far as a man can go in a day and a half.” Both Penn and the Delaware tribe were satisfied with this purchase.
After Penn’s death, however, the provincial secretary James Logan, used the wording of the treaty to establish the infamous Walking Treaty of 1737. He had a path cleared in the forest in a straight line. Then he hired the three fastest runners in the colony to run as far as they could in a day and a half.
On September 19, 1737, Edward Marshall outdistanced his companions and ran a full 70 miles — creating an area of 1,200,000 acres (which is roughly equivalent to the size of Rhode Island).
Not surprisingly, the Delaware tribes were outraged. Nevertheless, the Delaware chiefs consented to the agreement, and were forced to move west of their tribal homelands.
Did James Logan honor the treaty that Penn made with the Delaware tribes? In a strict sense he could claim that he obeyed the law. But in his heart he knew this was robbery.
In 1147, Pope Eugene III traveled to Paris. He arrived on Friday, which was inconvenient because Friday was a day of fasting. So, in order to allow the citizens of Paris the opportunity to celebrate his coming, he decreed that Friday was Thursday.
We learn how to wiggle out of agreements from a young age. When I was a kid, you could break a promise if you crossed your fingers behind your back when you made it.
The religious leaders from Jerusalem knew that God commanded children to take care of their parents in their old age. But they wiggled out of the law by claiming that, if someone dedicated their possessions to God, they didn’t have to support their parents.
The Bible repeatedly tells us to fulfill our promises. It makes sense: God doesn’t want us to cheat other people.
But I think there’s even more to it. As we learn that keeping a promise takes a sacrifice, we better understand that Jesus made a promise to rescue us . . . and he would bear any sacrifice to fulfill it.
(text copyright 2012 by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)
Posted in bible reading, daily devotion, discipleship, Inspiration, spiritual journey | Tagged Edward Marshall, fulfill promises, James Logan, legalism, Pennsylvania, Pope Eugene III, rescue, sacrifice, Walking Treaty, wiggle room in law, William Penn | Leave a Comment »
Story of the Day for Wednesday May 15, 2013
Able to Spot Their Priests
Remind everyone to submit to leaders and those in authority, to be obedient, and ready to do whatever is good.
The silence was eerie. After the Korean War, about eighty American prisoners of war were recovering at the army hospital in Tokyo. The former POWs would talk to the doctors, but even though these soldiers had spent three years together in prison and knew each other intimately, they wouldn’t talk with each other.
The treatment of POWs by the communist Koreans was insidiously effective. The prison camps had no guard towers, no electric fences, no search lights or guard dogs. A prison camp holding between 500 to 600 American prisoners was guarded by a mere half dozen guards. Yet, not one American soldier ever escaped.
The North Korean’s strategy was to demoralize their prisoners, and to accomplish their objective, they began by isolating the leaders. Officers were removed from their men and put in “reactionary camps.” After the officers were segregated, they kept a keen eye out for anyone assuming a leadership role and removed them.
Once the leaders were gone, they created distrust among everyone else. Informants who reported the misdeeds of fellow prisoners were rewarded with cigarettes, candy, or special privileges. But those who were tattled on were never punished. Everyone seemed to profit.
Soon, however, everyone became psychologically isolated. No one trusted anyone else.
The communists knew well what Americans can easily forget: the loss of leadership can devastate a group. When no one exists to encourage, inspire, and maintain a spirit of unity, group members attack each other and look to their own self-interests.
Almost forty percent of the American POWs died in prison — the highest death rate of American prisoners in any war since the American Revolution. The reason for the high mortality rate was neither torture nor malnutrition, but a lack of morale. The prisoners called it “Give-up-itis.” Without leadership, no one chose to resist the enemy. No one worked together. No one took responsibility for his comrade. After their release, they wouldn’t even talk to each other.
Fighting alongside the U.S. in the Korean War were the Turks. They, too, had many POWs. They, too, had their officers isolated. Yet, none of them died of natural causes. As soon as one leader was taken to a “reactionary camp,” another soldier filled his position of leadership. The leaders held the troops together. As a result, they shared their rations, cared for their sick, and remained loyal to each other.
Years ago, Christians in Uganda were being purged. A missionary society in England asked an Episcopal bishop in Uganda what they could do to help. Did they need food? Medicine?
The bishop replied that they didn’t need food or medicine; they needed 250 clerical collars. “You must understand,” he said, “when our people are being rounded up to be shot, they must be able to spot their priests.”
Can you spot your priest? How do you know you can trust your leader? We’d love to hear from you. Please tell us how your leader maintains morale. Use the comments box below. Thanks!
Posted in Bible teaching, devotional, Faith Journey, motivation | Tagged 250 clerical collars, demoralize prisoners, Korean War, leadership, loss of leasership devastates a group, POWs, spot their priests, trust noone | Leave a Comment »
Story of the Day for Tuesday May 14, 2013
Paint It Like A Hippie Van
My feet almost slipped, and I almost lost my footing, because I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
When our family moved to Montana, we needed another vehicle to pull a trailer. I bought an old, beat-up van for $500. It was a piece of work, let me tell you, but it did have a big motor and an AM radio.
One day a teenager was riding with me when we stopped at an intersection, and he saw a very expensive sports car. He marveled at the car, and named the make and model. “Man, I wish I had a car like that.”
“Want to know something?”I said, “I think I get more enjoyment out of this old junker of mine than he does from his sports car.”
He looked at me as if I was joking.
But I was serious. I asked him who was more anxious about getting a scratch on his vehicle: him or me? Who was more concerned about his vehicle getting stolen? Who had the bigger payments? Who was more worried about someone backing into his car while he’s in the grocery store? I pointed out that he would enjoy the luxury and handling of his car, but that his ultimate pleasure would be enjoying the envy of others. Yet, next year, a newer model would come out. How would he feel when he sees people on the road with newer, better, more expensive cars than his?
At this point my teenage friend suggested I was compensating for feelings of inadequacy at having to drive an old, beat up clunker.
But he was wrong. That old van finally reached the point where it could no longer be fixed with duct tape and piano wire, and we had to junk it. (My daughter had just been planning to paint the whole thing and make it look like a hippie van.) Our kids still light up and laugh when we reminisce about the old, mean green machine and the fun times we had.
Do rich kids reminisce and tell fond stories about the luxury cars they used to own? I hope so, but I suspect they don’t
But I do know this: wealth is a gift from God. If you have it, I hope the Lord also gives you the gift to enjoy it.
But Benjamin Franklin once posed an interesting question: What kind of furniture would you buy if everyone in the world but you were blind? If we use our wealth to create envy, we will find our pleasure is pretty hollow.
And if we envy those who have what we do not, we will always live in a state of discontent.
Be content with what you have.
All that said, I still hope that, some day, you, too, can own a $500 beater van. Paint it like a hippie van as soon as you get it . . . because things don’t last forever.
Do you presently own anything that you would like to ‘paint like a hippie van’ before it is too late? Tell us all about it!
Posted in bible reading, daily devotion, discipleship, Inspiration, spiritual journey | Tagged anxious, Benjamin Franklin, contentment, hippie van, hot rod car, shiny new sports car, things don't last forever, wealth gift from God | 1 Comment »
Story of the Day for Monday May 13, 2013
As Far As Your Headlights
When God called Abraham, by faith he obeyed and went . . . even though he didn’t know where he was going. . . Abraham was looking forward to the city with foundations — where God was the architect and builder.
In Egypt, Israel groaned under the lash of slavery. They longed for freedom, but God promised them far more than an escape from slavery; he promised to lead them to a land “dripping with milk and honey.”
The path to the Promised Land, however, led through a trackless wilderness. God told them the destination, but only He knew the route. As the days wore on they lost sight of the goal. They no longer strode toward their dream; they trudged.
Once they forgot their destination, they became demoralized and demanded that Moses lead them back to Egypt — even if that meant a return to slavery.
When we forget where we’re going, turning back to where we used to be is far more comfortable.
When I came down withstrep throat, my doctor gave me antibiotics. He cautioned me to continue taking the pills until they were all gone. But after a few days I would start feeling perky again, and would quit taking them.
Recently, I‘ve been cheered to learn I have comrades. The most common problem in fighting resistant bacteria is patients who quit taking the full course of antibiotics once they start feeling better.
The medical community sought help with this problem from, of all people, Rory Sutherland — a marketing guru from an advertising agency. His solution was simple: “Don’t give them twenty-four white pills,” he advised. “Give them twenty white pills and four blue ones, and tell them to take the blue pills after they’ve finished the white ones.”
Even though the blue pills were no different — other than color — it worked. Instead of taking pills until they felt better, patients focused on the pills at the end of the process — those four blue pills.
When God called Abraham to leave his home and travel to a new land, the Bible says Abraham didn’t know where he was going. He didn’t know where he’d pitch his tent the next day. He didn’t need to. Abraham saw that the journey’s end would lead him home to God. Abraham saw the destination and trusted in the mercy of God to get him there. And that’s why he never turned back.
When you see the goal, you can walk without seeing what’s around the bend. Life is a lot like novelist E. L. Doctorow‘s description of completing a book. “Writing a novel,” he says, “is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”
How is God leading you in his mercy? Can you see only as far as the headlights? Are you making the whole trip that way? Tell us about your journey!
Posted in bible reading, Bible teaching, daily devotion, devotional, discipleship, Faith Journey, Inspiration, motivation, spiritual journey | Tagged Abraham, antibiotics of differing colors, driving at night, goals, headlights, journey, journey of Israelites, Moses, Promised Land, white and blue pills | Leave a Comment »
Story of the Day for Friday May 10, 2013
Let us boldly approach the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find gracious help in our time of need.
In the 1960s the Hewlett-Packard company was known world-wide for its innovation in electronics.
One night one of the company founders, Bill Hewlett, got a phone call at his home in Palo Alto. An 8th grader was working on a school project and asked Mr. Hewlett if he could have some spare parts to build a frequency counter.
Bill Hewlett not only talked to this young man for twenty minutes, but personally gathered the requested parts. And to top it off, he offered the student a summer job working in the Hewlett-Packard department that assembled frequency counters.
That student, who had the audacity to phone one of the titans of the electronics industry, was Steve Jobs — one of the founders of Apple computers.Jobs often reflected on that day when he called the legendary Bill Hewlett. Steve Jobs was obviously brilliant, but prefers to attribute his astonishing success to his boldness in asking others for what he needed. Most people, he observed, would never pick up the phone.
To make requests of famous and influential people seems presumptuous. Who do we think we are, anyway? Most of us feel unworthy to ask things of great people. And we have it exactly right: we are unworthy.
But focusing on who we are misses the point. The question is not whether we deserve the attention of influential people, but whether those influential people are willing to give us of their time.
This issue of unworthiness can seep into our attitude about prayer. Have you ever failed to ask God for great things because you felt you didn’t deserve to make such an audacious request of the almighty God?
If we only ask the Lord for the things we deserve, we will ask him for nothing.
But all this misses the point of prayer. God invites us to boldly ask for the moon. Our prayers should never be based on our worthiness, but on God’s wild generosity.
In the sixteenth century, Sir Walter Raleigh was a frequent visitor in the Royal Court of England. He made numerous requests to Queen Elizabeth.
Once, after approaching her Majesty with yet one more request — this one on behalf of a friend — the Queen sighed in exasperation.
“When, Sir Walter, will you cease to be a beggar?”
Raleigh quickly replied, “When your gracious Majesty ceases to be a benefactor.”
St. Theresa of Avila had it right when she said, “You pay God a compliment by asking great things of him.”
Have you ever paid God a compliment and asked great things of him? What was His response?
Posted in Faith Journey, motivation, devotional, Bible teaching | Tagged prayer, Sir Walter Raleigh, St. Theresa of Avila, Bill Hewlett, Steve Jobs, Hewlett-Packard. HP, frequency counter, Apple computers | Leave a Comment »
Story of the Day for Thursday May 9, 2013
Magnets on the Fridge Door
And in his teaching Jesus said, “Watch out for the Bible scholars who like to walk around in long robes and be greeted in the marketplace and have the special seat in the synagogue and the place of honor at feasts.”
In the 1950s, the vocation of pastor ranked 3rd in status in the U.S. Fifty years later, pastors ranked 187th in status. The vocation of pastor is not nearly as dignified or respected as it once was.
All this is refreshing news for pastors. The word “minister” in the Bible does not mean a “clergyman,” but a “servant” – the one who is beneath others in order to serve. Just as Jesus assumed the role of a lowly servant, and demonstrated it as he knelt to wash his disciple’s feet, so he calls those in the church to forsake status in order to serve people.
It is a little more complex than I’m making it out to be, because we are to show a kind of respect to leaders in the church. But Jesus is stern in his warnings that we must not use religion as a means of gaining status.
The Bible scholars of Jesus day loved the status they enjoyed. They wore long stoles and robes to indicate their high rank in society. When they walked down the street on market day, the people would stand in honor as they passed by.
But, a concern for status invariably involves a comparison – a competition – to be higher in respect than others. That’s what makes it ugly. Status is rooted in pride.
The focus on status is destructive in the church. It destroys relationship. Intuitively, we know that relationships are of higher value than status.
You prove it by your refrigerator door. The photos of people on your fridge: are they of the most famous and influential people in the world? Or are they photos of family and friends? How about the artwork? Do you have artwork of the great masters, or drawings by your kids or grandkids?
Jesus turns the status charts upside down. He says that, if anyone wants to be first, let him be last and the “minister” (or, the servant) of all.
In the family of God, it’s not about being “higher” than others. It’s about having your drawing or photo slapped with a magnet to the fridge door.
What is displayed on your refrigerator door? Does what is displayed show the value of your relationships? How?
Posted in bible reading, daily devotion, discipleship, Inspiration, spiritual journey | Tagged artwork of kids, higher than others, magnets, minister, photos, photos and magnets on fridge door, pride, refrigerator door artwork, servant of other, status | 3 Comments »
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