Story of the Day for Wednesday April 16, 2014
Is it Possible to Hit a Baseball?
Solid food is for the mature, who, by practice, have trained their senses to discern what is good and what is bad.
Based on everything I have read, it is impossible to hit a baseball.
George Will, in his book, Men at Work, helps us work our way through the mathematics. A 90-mile-per-hour fastball leaves the pitcher’s hand 55 feet from the plate and will cross the plate in four tenths of a second. A change-up will loiter along and reach the plate .052 seconds longer than the fastball.
The batter must decide whether or not to swing at the pitch. Once he commits to swing, he has two tenths of a second to make his body do it. The ball is capable of being struck for only fifteen thousandths of a second before it passes the batter and smacks into the catcher’s mitt.
Fifteen thousandths of a second, did I mention that?
So, let’s review: a batter must locate the ball as it flies toward the plate. He must decide if it is a ball or strike. He must determine if it is a fastball, curveball, or change-up. Then he must decide whether to swing. When he does his bat can only make contact with the ball for a time span of fifteen thousandths of a second.
Well, if you ask me, that’s impossible.
How can anyone think that fast? George Will says they can’t. He says, “they must, through regular discipline and repetition, teach their muscles to react to hit the ball.”
The Bible uses an athlete’s training to picture the life of spiritual maturity. In the book of Hebrews, it says that those who are mature eat solid food. The food is God’s grace and his teaching about how we life the New Life.
When the Bible talks about mature believers going into “training,” it uses the Greek word, gymnazo – from which we get our English words, “gymnastics,” and “gymnasium.” In other words, as athletes go through rigorous discipline to train their bodies, so we are eager to go through practice and training to strengthen our maturity in Christ.
A batter in a baseball game must learn “muscle memory.” He practices his swing so repeatedly that he has trained his muscles to think. His swing is instinctive.
When we begin to pray, to forgive, to love our enemies, to trust in God’s promises, we feel clumsy. We feel like a couch potato on his maiden voyage into the gym.
But, keep in mind: baseball players practice hard, but still don’t hit every pitch. Same with us. Sometimes we swing at the curveball that is high and outside. But the more we train, the more we begin to see the difference between what is good and what is not. And we know when to swing for the cheap seats.
Posted in bible reading, daily devotion, discipleship, Inspiration, spiritual journey | Tagged baseball, change up, curveball, fast ball, George Will, gymnazo, hitting a baseball, muscle memory, new life, solid good, spiritual maturity, training | 1 Comment »
Story of the Day for Tuesday April 15, 2014
Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by the quality of his behavior – in actions that demonstrate wisdom’s humility.
A police officer arrested a man in Plentywood, Montana, for drunk driving. The man refused to take the breathalyzer and insisted he had to go to the bathroom first. The officer granted his request and waited outside the rest room until he came out.
When the motorist emerged his lips and tongue were blue. He had been told that toilet bowl freshener would disguise alcohol on the breath and foil a breath analyzer.
Ignorance of what is true can leave us sitting behind bars with an unpleasant taste in our mouth. John Newton, who authored the hymn, “Amazing Grace,” said: “Zeal without knowledge is like speed to a man in the dark.”.
Knowledge is vitally important because it can keep our mouth from turning blue. Yet, knowledge, in itself, can also be harmful. Philip Gulley makes a telling observation in his novel, Home Town Tales, when he writes: “Teenagers sit at the picnic table and carve dirty words into the wood. It is a testimony to our town’s academic excellence that all the words are spelled correctly.”
Education that has been torn free from morality cannot make you wise; it can only increase the effectiveness of evil. Adlai Stevenson liked to tell the story about the prisoner who said to his cellmate: “I’m going to study and improve myself – and when you’re still a common thief, I’ll be an embezzler.”
Wisdom can’t be measured by an I.Q. test or a tendency to win at Trivial Pursuit™. As odd as it may sound, the Bible tells us the foundation for wisdom is humility. Wisdom, in other words, is not rooted in information, but in character.
Look at it this way: the best thing we could ever do is allow God to pour his love over us. But God’s gifts can only be given to the humble. Whoever accepts God’s gracious offer and responds by living filled with the fruits of love, is wiser than anyone holding a diploma from M.I.T.
When I was in grade school I remember reading a book of brain teasers at my cousin’s house. One posed this problem: A truck tried to go under a bridge and got stuck. People brought in tow trucks and tried to pull it out, but it was wedged tight. Then a young boy suggested they let the air out of the truck tires. It worked.
Everyone else was focused on power to dislodge the truck; no one but the young boy saw the problem from a different perspective: decreasing the height of the truck. But that’s what true wisdom is like; lessening our height that we might know what it’s like to be free.
Posted in bible reading, Bible teaching, daily devotion, devotional, discipleship, Faith Journey, Inspiration, motivation, spiritual journey | Tagged blue mouth, breathalyzer, charachter, drunk driving, humble, humility, information, lessening the height, let air out of truck tires, Philip Gulley, toilet bowl freshener, wisdom | Leave a Comment »
Story of the Day for Monday April 14, 2014
The Palm Sunday When….Things Happened
The people were absolutely amazed at Jesus. “He has done everything well.”
Last Sunday was the most joyous Palm Sunday celebration I have known, and most everything went wrong.
We drove to church early because there was so much to get ready. After unloading the van I discovered it wouldn’t start. Wayne and I surveyed the situation and tried to think of something insightful, but neither of us were great mechanics. Soon, the reinforcements arrived and I excused myself to go inside and prepare for the service.
My wife was handing out large palm branches to all the kids. At the beginning of the worship service, they would walk in from the back of the church – waving palm branches and singing a song that Mary Ann composed for the occasion.
As soon as the palm branches were handed out, my ten-year-old daughter and her friend, Kyoti, sensing the importance of setting a good example for the little beaners, immediately started thrashing each other with their palms.
The Palm Branch Incident of 2011 was brought to a premature conclusion, and when order was restored, my wife used the moment to clarify palm branch protocol.
“Now,” my wife asked the kids, “what are your palm branches to be used for? Do we use them to whack each other and bother the person sitting in front of you?”
The littlest ones shouted in unison, “YES!!!”
Palm Sunday was turning out to be far more exciting than they had imagined.
Outside, Robert brought a donkey and a colt, the foal of a donkey, for the kids.
I went down to the basement, late, for Bible study. So late, in fact, that we decided to rehearse the hymns instead. But, so many adults were poking their heads out the window to watch the kids with the donkeys, that we no longer had a quorum of attentive hearts.
We called it a day for the Bible study(in which we never opened a Bible) and I rushed upstairs to go over the service and my sermon one last time. But soon, the kids thundered in and the little ones spotted me in the office. They knew you weren’t supposed to hit people with palm branches, but recalling no rule against holding branches over someone’s head, they did just that.The office was crammed with giggly little girls trying to hide me under a palm branch canopy, and if I wasn’t having so much fun, I would’ve added this to the list of things you shouldn’t do with your palm branch.
One of the musicians left her music at home so the special music was postponed until later while her husband drove home to retrieve it. I wrote the opening hymn in the wrong key and had to do a little mental calculating.
I used to think a Sunday would come along in which everything went right. I’m no longer that naïve. But I really don’t care. The thing that matters most is not that we get things perfect, but that we learn to focus on the One who does all things well.
(copyright 2011 by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)
Posted in bible reading, Bible teaching, daily devotion, devotional, discipleship, Faith Journey, Inspiration, motivation, spiritual journey | Tagged donkey, hitting others with palm branches, kids and palm branches, palm branches, palm processional, Palm Sunday, singing Palm Sunday song | Leave a Comment »
Story of the Day for Friday April 11, 2014
Not a One Size Fits All Deal
One person judges a day more special than others; another person considers each day no different than the other. Each one should be convinced in his own mind.
I have a message that will be fascinating to some of you, and meaningless to others, but I need your help.
Pick a number between 1 and 10, (and don’t tell me what it is.)
Multiply your number by 9.
If your new number has two digits, add the two digits together.
Take your new number and subtract 5.
Now, we want your number to correspond to a letter of the alphabet. So, A = 1, B = 2, C= 3, and so on. Convert your number into a letter.
Think of a country in Europe that begins with your letter.
Whatever your letter is, select the next letter in the alphabet, and think of an animal, let’s say, from Africa.
As we attempt to live out our faith, one of the biggest temptations we face is thinking that everyone should be like we are.
Have you ever heard the story of the two pack mules? The first mule carried a heavy load of salt. In the heat of the day, he decided to cool off, and waded into a pond. All the salt dissolved, and he walked up on shore with a greatly lightened load.
Excitedly he told another mule about it. “You’ve got to wade into this pool. You walk in with your heavy load, and when you come out, the weight is gone!”
The other mule replied, “But why should I wade into the pool to lighten my load? My load isn’t heavy to begin with.”
The first pack mule, however, urged the second one to try it. The mule waded into the pool . . . and drowned. He was carrying a load of sponges.
Christian living is not a one-size-fits-all sort of deal.
The truths of God on things like prayer and worship do not change. They’re just true. But each one of us can express our faith in strikingly different ways. The notion that what’s good for me may not be good for you, grates against my religious sensibilities. But the fact remains that the Lord leads people in different ways.
Some believers in the early church thought the “brethren” who ate meat were compromisers. Didn’t they know that meat is dedicated to pagan gods? Not to be outdone, the meat-eaters scoffed at the vegetarians for not seeing the higher truth that all food belongs to the true God.
God leads us in different ways. If you’re still finding this notion hard to accept, sit down with the 14th chapter of Romans, and wrestle with it for a while.
Oh, and before I forget, the message that is meaningful to some of you and not to others is this: “There are no elephants in Denmark.”
(copyright 2012 by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)
Posted in bible reading, Bible teaching, daily devotion, devotional, discipleship, Faith Journey, Inspiration, motivation, spiritual journey | Tagged animal in Africa, diversity, elephants in Denmark, number game, one size fits all, pack mules, salt, sponges, two digits together | Leave a Comment »
Story of the Day for Thursday April 10, 2014
And Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it’s good to be here. Let’s make three tents . . .
In October, 1988, an Alaskan Eskimo discovered three gray whales who were drowning. Surrounded by Arctic ice, the whales punched out a small breathing hole, but it was quickly icing over. The Eskimo returned with others who wielded chainsaws and pick axes to cut a series of holes in order to lead the whales back to open water.
The work was exhausting, but their story was picked up by the national news. Soon, oil companies and the military were donating equipment to help free Bonnet, Crossbeak, and Bone – the names given to the three whales. By creating a series of breathing holes, the rescue teams eventually led the whales to open water.
When we are overwhelmed by the pressures of life, have you noticed how we often speak of “drowning”? We need “breathing holes.” If you don’t take regular time to come up for air you will starve your soul of oxygen and other people will notice that your lips are turning blue.
A breathing hole is any way that you can find quiet and refresh your soul. Where you can pray, and ponder, and let God’s love wash over you to cleanse you and heal your wounds.
Those who worked to make breathing holes for the gray whales noticed that the whales were bleeding. The ice on the sides of the hole was so jagged that the whales were cutting themselves when they tried to come up for air. The smallest whale, Bone, eventually tore all the flesh off his snout and died.
Can I ask you something? Is your “breathing hole” jagged around the edges? I have seen people who go to worship or read books for a breath of fresh air, but come away bloodied with guilt. Don’t get me wrong – sometimes, conviction of sin and rebuke are necessary. But remember this: the Good News of Jesus is always exactly that – GOOD news.
Our first priority is to find breathing holes with smooth edges. But, our second priority is to leave them.
The rescuers made a series of breathing holes, but the whales didn’t want to move from the one they were at.
Neither did Peter. Standing on a high mountain with James and John, he saw Jesus shine with a glory greater than the sun. This moment was so awesome, that Peter wanted to stay, and offered to build shelters up there on the peak.
The shelters were never built. To love and serve a hurting world, they would have to go down the mountain.
Breathing holes are not meant to escape from the hectic demands of life, but to re-enter the fray with a lungful of fresh air.
(copyright 2012by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)
Posted in bible reading, Bible teaching, daily devotion, devotional, discipleship, Faith Journey, Inspiration, motivation, spiritual journey | Tagged Alasskan Eskimo, Bone, Bonnet, breathing holes, Crossbeak, drowning from pressures of life, fresh air, good news, gray whales, James, John, open water, Peter, rescue teams, starve your soul of oxygen | Leave a Comment »
Story of the Day for Wednesday April 9, 2014
A Good Time to Dance on the Table
“Blessed are you when others mock you and persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil things against you. Rejoice and be glad . . .”
For her work in the field of therapeutic humor, Patty Wooten has been awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award. One of her favorite stories is about a grumpy patient who continually pressed his buzzer for help.
Despite a hectic day, his nurse clung to her good cheer and asked, “What’s wrong?”
The patient complained about his dinner. “This is a bad potato.”
The nurse, determined to keep things upbeat, picked up the potato with one hand and spanked it with the other. She scolded the potato, “Bad potato! Bad! Bad! Bad!” Satisfied that the potato had learned its lesson, the nurse set it back down on the plate.
The patient was so taken off guard that he burst into laughter. A crabby, irritable patient had been instantly transformed.
What changed his whiny attitude? His circumstances hadn’t changed: he was still lying in a hospital bed with an unappealing dinner before him. But the thought of the naughty potato lying on his plate completely altered how he viewed his situation.
When we’re in a sour mood we feel we’ve earned the right to nurse a bad attitude. That’s because we believe our attitudes are dependent on our circumstances.
They’re not. When we’re crabby, it’s never because of the situation we’re in, but how we are interpreting our situation.
Jesus tells us that when we’re horribly mistreated for following him, instead of moaning, it’s a good time to dance on the table. The proper attitude to persecution is joy.
No circumstance in life demands a crabby attitude.
One hot summer day, Robert Fulghum was sitting at an oceanfront café on the Greek island of Crete. The temperature was over a hundred degrees and the tempers of both tourists and waiters were rising.
At the table next to Fulghum’s, an attractive young couple, fashionable dressed, were kissing and laughing. Suddenly, they picked up their small table, and stepped off the quay into the shallow water of the harbor. The man waded back for their chairs and gallantly seated his lady before sitting down. The onlookers roared with laughter and applauded.
The surly waiter appeared, raised his eyebrows, and picking up a tablecloth, napkins, and silverware, waded into the water to set their table. Minutes later, the waiter returned with a bucket of iced champagne and two glasses. The couple toasted each other, the waiter, and the crowd – which prompted cheers as the other customers threw flowers to them from their table decorations.
The circumstances didn’t change. It was still hot. But everyone’s disposition was transformed because one young couple taught the rest to see in a new way.
(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)
Posted in bible reading, Bible teaching, daily devotion, devotional, discipleship, Faith Journey, Inspiration, motivation, spiritual journey | Tagged bad attitude, bad potato, dancing on table, joy, laughing, persecution Robert Fulghum, spank potato, to see a new way | Leave a Comment »
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