Story of the Day for Thursday September 11, 2014
The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.”
And the Lord responded, “If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and plant yourself in the sea’ and it would obey you.”
I’m going to ask you a question in just a moment. It’s not a trick question, but most Christians answer it wrong, while those who aren’t particularly religious tend to give the right answer.
You and a friend go for a walk and come to a raging river. Since it’s impossible to swim across it, you look along the bank, and spot two bridges.
The first bridge is buttressed on both ends with thick concrete. Massive steel girders span the river, which have been overlaid with thick oak planks. It looks like you could drive a tank over it.
The other bridge is an oddity. It’s constructed out of cardboard and fastened together with duct tape. The light rain the night before has left the cardboard sagging somewhat, but it is, nevertheless, a bridge.
Your friend asks, “What bridge you gonna to take?”
“What! You’re joking, right? I’m taking the steel bridge.”
You soon discover your friend isn’t joking. “I’m taking the cardboard bridge,” he says.
As your friend starts out across the sagging cardboard bridge, he doesn’t have the slightest concern about its strength. He’s humming a song as he boldly strides across.
You, on the other hand, are unnerved. Your palms begin to sweat and you notice there’s a tremor in your hands. Thinking it will help to better disperse your weight, you begin to crawl across the steel bridge.
So, here’s the question. Who will make it safely to the other side: the person with the strong faith or the person with the weak faith?
I’ve asked this question dozens of times, and, invariably, Christians tend to blurt out, “The person with the strong faith.”
Wrong answer. The person who will make it safely across the river is you, with the weak faith. Your friend may have a strong faith, but it is faith in a weak bridge incapable of holding a person’s weight. You, on the other hand, may have a weak faith, but as long as it is in a strong bridge, you will make it safely to the other side.
Jesus’ followers asked him to increase their faith – and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that. But Jesus knew they were looking at things from the wrong perspective. Ultimately, it’s not how much faith you have that matters; it’s what you have your faith in that counts.
Even a weak faith, a faith as tiny as a mustard seed, can do great things if it’s placed in the true source of power and strength.
(copyright 2012 by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)
Posted in Bible teaching, devotional, Faith Journey, motivation | Tagged 2 bridges, faith, increase faith, mustard seed, perspective, strong faith, true source of power and strength, walking cardboard or steel bridge, weak faith, wrong perspective | Leave a Comment »
Story of the Day for Tuesday September 9, 2014
Better Than We Used To Be
It’s right for us to always give thanks to God for you . . . because your faith is growing and increasing.
2 Thessalonians 1:3
If sport is all about winning, what do you do when you’re the worst at it?
As an uncoordinated seventh grader, John joined a league swim team for a two month summer program. He didn’t swim again until he entered high school, where he soon learned he was the slowest swimmer on the team.
John didn’t worry about being the best. Instead, he competed with himself to improve. Even though he would lose races, John would be happy with his performance, because his goals were focusing solely around performing better.
In high school, he won the “Most Improved” award three years in a row.
His magic number was seventy. John’s dad created a spreadsheet with the swimming events across the top and the swim meets down the side. After each competition, his dad would write in John’s time, and if it was the fastest time yet, he would circle it in red. John’s goal was that seven out of ten races, that is, seventy percent, would be his personal best.
At the Montreal Olympics, John Naber set four world records in swimming. He didn’t care so much about the gold medals (he left them at his parent’s home), nor about the opportunity to turn his fame into big money (he turned down endorsements).
Instead of money and fame, John chose to grow. After the Olympics he enrolled in college at USC. Living in a cramped apartment with three other guys, he took a full course load of studies, and joined the university swim team. He volunteered as a resident advisor – sometimes staying up until 3 a.m. listening to his fellow students.
And he still found time to attend a weekly Bible study.
The Christian life is not a competition. It doesn’t work if you’re trying to be better than someone else.
Instead, God pours out his love to us, and we want to learn how to stand underneath that waterfall. When we’re not competing against others, we learn there’s room for others to join us.
Winning Olympic medals had no impact on Naber’s drive as a swimmer. Is he proud of his achievement? Of course. But, he quickly adds, “it was the records (his personal best times) that kept me moving forward.”
John Naber didn’t want to be better than other people. He just wanted to be better than who he used to be.
(copyright 2012 by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)
Posted in daily devotion, Faith Journey, Inspiration, discipleship, motivation, spiritual journey, devotional, Bible teaching, bible reading | Tagged swimming, growth, John, competition, sports, winning, Most Improved, Christian life, John Naver, better than we use to be, Bible Study, Montreal Olympics, four world records, gold medals | Leave a Comment »
Story of the Day for Friday September 5, 2014
Learning When to Break the Rules
The Lord Almighty says, “Is there no more wisdom in Teman? Has wise counsel perished from those with common sense? Has their wisdom decayed?”
On April 5, 2008, Christopher Ratté took his seven-year-old son, Leo, to a Detroit Tigers baseball game. Leo wanted a lemonade, so Christopher bought him one at the concession stand.
Mr. Ratté is a professor of classics at the University of Michigan. As an archeologist, he is absorbed with the past, and this may help explain why he had no idea that Mike’s Hard Lemonade was an alcoholic drink.
A security guard noticed the boy with the alcoholic drink, and soon Christopher and his son were surrounded by a cluster of security guards. The two were escorted from the game and Leo was examined by a nurse, who found no evidence of inebriation.
No matter. Leo was forcibly taken by ambulance to the Children’s Hospital in Detroit. In the emergency room, they found no evidence of alcohol in his blood. Nevertheless, Leo was taken into a private room by officers from the Child Abuse Division.
By this time, Leo’s mom had been contacted and arrived at the hospital, but even she was denied permission to see or speak with her son. The boy was placed in the custody of the Wayne County Child Protective Services. Scared and confused, little Leo cried himself to sleep.
To lessen their son’s trauma, the parents called Leo’s aunt in Massachusetts – who drove all night to take custody of her nephew. The aunt was not only a social worker, but a licensed foster care provider. Yet, she was refused custody of her nephew.
A couple of days later, a juvenile court judge ruled that the little boy could return home – but only if the father moved out of the house and agreed not to speak to his son.
After two weeks of anguish, the authorities quietly dismissed the case.
The response of the officials, police, social workers, and judges was all the same: they hated to do what they did. They all claimed they were just following rules. No one, apparently, had given them the authority to exercise reason, compassion, or common sense.
What was the purpose of these rules that everyone felt obligated to follow? We can only assume that the rules were made to protect children. And yet, it was not an unwitting academic dad who harmed this little child; this child was severely traumatized by the very agencies whose mission was to protect him.
Laws and rules, of course, are absolutely essential. Yet, the Bible says that all the rules that God makes can be summed up in one phrase: Love your neighbor as yourself.
We can hide behind rules as a way to excuse our behavior: “I was simply following procedure.” But to God, rules are the expression of compassion and justice. And, if that is so, we must not only learn to follow rules, but also to break them in the interests of love and common sense.
(text 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 archeologist, baseball, break rules, breaking rules in interest of love and common sense, Chrstopher Ratte, Detroit Tigers, expression of compassion, follow rules, fules obligated to follow, legalism, love your neighbor, Mike's Hard Lemonade, mistakes | 3 Comments »
Story of the Day for Thursday September 4, 2014
The Gift You’re Given
The eye isn’t able to say to the hand, “I don’t need you.”
On June 6, 1944, Allied forces staged the largest-ever amphibious assault and established a foothold on European soil.
Nazi commanders, however, knew the invasion was coming. Once a beachhead was established, their strategy was to advance their formidable tank divisions and destroy the Allied forces – who were backed up by the sea and had no means of escape.
Germany’s fearsome 2nd SS Panzer Division was ordered to advance. The division’s new Tigers were the best tanks yet produced. Yet, because of its formidable size (sixty-three tons), the Tiger was a gas-guzzler – getting only a half mile to the gallon. In addition, the steel tracks wore out quickly on highway travel. The Germans had to move the tank division into position by railroad.
To prevent air attacks, the rail cars were carefully camouflaged at village railway sidings in the area of Montabuban. These transport cars were unguarded.
In his book, D-Day, Stephen Ambrose narrates the actions of a sixteen-year-old girl named Tetty. Joined by her boyfriend and fourteen-year-old sister, Tetty would slip out in the dark on a bicycle and siphon off the axle oil from the railroad cars and replace it with an abrasive powder.
When the Allied invasion hit the shores of Normandy, the Germans loaded their Tigers onto the railroad cars and prepared their counterattack. But every railroad car soon seized up and the damage to the axles was so extensive they couldn’t be repaired. The German division was stuck in southern France and couldn’t find replacement railroad cars for a week.
By the time they were able to move, the French Resistance was in place to harass any movement by rail.
Instead of arriving while the Allies were pinned down on the beaches, the German division didn’t reach the front until seventeen days later—when the Allied forces had already been able to organize, advance, and disperse.
So, did a French teenager prevent the annihilation of the Allies’ precarious foothold on the continent? Did her brave action tip the balance, which enabled us to eventually win the war?
I don’t know. But I do know that she did what she could.
Whatever your calling in life, don’t bemoan the things you’re unable to do. The Lord asks of you only one thing: to do what you’re able with the gift you’re given.
(text copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)
Posted in bible reading, Bible teaching, daily devotion, devotional, discipleship, Faith Journey, Inspiration, motivation | Tagged 16 year old girl replaces axle oil with abrasive powder on railway cars, Body of Christ, Germany's 2nd SS Panzer Division, Montabuban, railroad, Tetty, Tiger tanks, transport cars, use gift your are given | 1 Comment »
Story of the Day for Wednesday September 3, 2014
The Real Goal: To Reach the Bottom
“On the next day, as they came down from the mountain . . .
We’re used to watching athletes celebrate when they win a football game or golf tournament. But what is the only sport where athletes do most of their celebrating at the halfway-point of their event?
The answer is mountain climbing. Climbers are triumphant when they reach the peak. They celebrate and take photos and plant flags on the summit.
But, the most difficult part of the climb is still facing them. Mountain climbers tend to see their goal as reaching the top of the mountain. Their real goal, however, must be to reach the bottom.
Most of us are gritty and passionate about climbing the mountains in our life, but we often take some nasty tumbles on the way back down.
Parents often focus their dreams on raising children. When parents have fulfilled their calling and the last kid moves out of the house, a common response for “empty nesters” is depression.
Employees spend their lives working their way up the company ladder. But, once they hand in their keys to the office, the life change becomes more than they’re able to negotiate. They once felt the thrill of making important decisions. Now they are haunted by feelings of uselessness.
Those who make it into professional football have achieved a childhood dream. They have conquered the mountain. But what about climbing down? After the first two years of retirement from the NFL, seventy-eight percent of former players are unemployed, bankrupt, or divorced. The suicide rate for retired NFL players is six times higher than the national average.
Have you achieved an important goal in your life? Great! Pump your fists, plant your flag, and take a photo. But do you know how to turn your back on the summit and climb safely down?
God told Abraham to take his son, Isaac, whom he dearly loved, and sacrifice him on a mountain top at Moriah. That mountainside was surely the hardest climb Abraham ever made. He reached that summit – not to celebrate his accomplishment, but to faithfully obey the word of the Lord. But once the Lord saw that Abraham was willing to sacrifice his son, He substituted a ram on the altar meant for Isaac.
How well do you think Abraham did descending the mountain?
Abraham’s joy on coming down that mountain was linked to his reason for climbing it. He didn’t climb Moriah for self-glory; he ascended the peak as an act of faith – willing to lay his life – his son’s life – in the hands of God.
How well you do descending your mountain depends entirely on why you wanted to reach the peak in the first place.
(text and image 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 Abraham, celebrate half way point of event, come down mountain, Isaac, joy on coming down, Moriah, mountain climbing, retirement, summit | Leave a Comment »
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