Story of the Day for Wednesday April 23, 2014
A Wild Enjoyment in Possessions
Hope in . . . God, who provides us riches for our enjoyment. Tell them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and extravagant in sharing.
Randy Pausch captured the hearts of many Americans when he realized he was dying of pancreatic cancer, but refused to let his terminal illness break his spirit. He helped remind us of the priorities that are so much greater than material things.
In his book, The Last Lecture, Randy recalled the time when he was still a bachelor and bought a new Volkswagen Cabrio convertible. He went to his sister’s house and picked up his seven-year-old nephew, Chris, and Laura, his nine-year-old niece.
Their mother warned them to be careful in their uncle’s new car. “Wipe your feet before you get in it. Don’t mess anything up. Don’t get it dirty.”
As Randy listened to his sister’s stern warnings he realized the kids were being set up for failure. Of course they’d eventually get the car dirty – it’s just what kids do.
Randy opened a can of soda, and while her sister impressed on her kids the need to be careful, Randy slowly and deliberately poured out the can of soda on the back seat of his brand new convertible. He wanted to convey to them the message that people are more important than things.
He was glad he spilled the soda in front of his nephew and niece because later on Chris threw up in the backseat. The poor boy would’ve felt horrible and guilty, but he had already learned from his crazy uncle that the backseat had already been christened.
If you bought a brand new convertible, could you pour a soda on the backseat like Randy did? I don’t know if I could. But don’t you wish you could? I’ve never met anyone who says they value possessions more than people. But, it’s one thing to say it; it’s another thing to live it.
As much as we want to guard our precious possessions, we should ask ourselves this question: who do you believe finds a wilder enjoyment in possessions – those who live like Randy Pausch, or those who would blow a gasket if a kid gets the backseat of their new car a little dirty?
Oddly, the more we covet and cling to material things, the less we enjoy them.
God invites us to be extravagant in our generosity. I hope it’s not irreverent to say that God is obsessive, but, if God is obsessive about anything, it is about giving. He would give you the moon. He would give you his only Son. Invariably, when you read in the Bible about God’s love, you will find him giving you something.
If you’re like me, and not quite to the point of wanting to pour pop on the back seat of a new car, maybe we can start by taking the next step: keeping a can of soda stashed under our car seat . . . just in case we get in the mood.
And store some towels too so your passengers don’t ride around with wet butts.
Posted in bible reading, Bible teaching, daily devotion, devotional, discipleship, Faith Journey, Inspiration, motivation, spiritual journey | Tagged be extravagant in our generosity, can of soda, clean vs. dirty cars, giving, giving for God, materialism, people more important than things, possesions, pour soda in back seat of car, Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture, Volkswagen Cabrio convertible | Leave a Comment »
Story of the Day for Tuesday April 22, 2014
Let’s Make the Church Together
“I have given them the glory you gave me, in order that they may be one just as we are one.”
The tiny town of Donald in British Columbia had only one employer in 1897: the Canadian Pacific Railway. When the CPR decided to move its divisional headquarters west to Revelstoke, the citizens of Donald knew their village was doomed.
The railroad company offered to move any building in Donald to Revelstoke – free of charge. When the citizens of Revelstoke asked to have St. Peter’s Anglican Church, the railroad company began to dismantle it to move it to its new home.
Many of the residents chose not to move to Revelstoke with the railroad, but instead stayed in their mountain valley, moving south to Windermere.
Rufus Kimpton, a leading citizen in Donald, was one of those who moved to Windermere. Rufus’ wife, Celina, dearly missed her beloved church in Donald.
He had the disassembled church shipped by wagon and barge to Windermere and rebuilt. To this day it is named “St. Peter’s Anglican Church – The Stolen Church.”
While the church was being stolen, however, someone stole the church bell and installed it in their church in the town of Golden – causing their church to be renamed: “St. Paul’s of the Stolen Bell.” The citizens of Golden were so delighted with their heist that they held a parade in honor of their achievement.
The citizens in Revelstoke were upset and demanded the return of their stolen church and stolen bell. The citizens of Windermere were furious and demanded the return of the stolen bell – based on the dubious claim that they had stolen it first.
For over sixty years, resentment smoldered between Windermere and Golden over the rightful owner of the stolen bell. Then, in 1960, a group from Windermere stole back the 600 pound stolen bell from the church in Golden.
Officials in Windermere, however, decided it wasn’t right to steal a stolen bell and, since they already owned a stolen church, they returned the bell to the church in Golden.
Jesus prayed that his followers would learn to live in unity, but sometimes it looks more like his church has divided up into competing teams.
During a Vacation Bible School, a new student was brought into a teacher’s preschool class. The boy had only one arm and the teacher had no time to prepare his class from making inappropriate remarks to the little boy.
The teacher had the kids do their usual closing. Interlocking their fingers they said: “This is the church, and this is the steeple. Open the doors . . .” The teacher, to her horror, realized she had done the very thing she feared her kids would do.
As she stood there, embarrassed, a little girl sitting next to the boy put her left hand up to the boy’s right hand and said, “Davey, let’s make the church together.”
Posted in bible reading, Bible teaching, daily devotion, devotional, discipleship, Faith Journey, Inspiration, motivation, spiritual journey | Tagged British Columbia, Canadian Pacific Railway, Donald, Golden, making church together, one armed boy, Revelstoke, stolen bell, stolen church, this is the church...., unity, Vacation Bible School, Windermere | Leave a Comment »
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 »
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