Begin by Slowing Down

Story of the Day for Wednesday October 22, 2014

Begin by Slowing Down



Blessed is the man whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in season, and whose leaf does not wither.

Psalm 1:2-3

Never has any generation lived at the frantic pace which we do today. If the car at the traffic light in front of me doesn’t respond to the green light within three seconds I get agitated. “C’mon, what’s your problem? Let’s move!”

Thomas Huxley was a zealous promoter of Darwin’s views on evolution. “Darwin’s Bulldog” they called him. Chuck Swindoll wrote about the time when Huxley lectured in Dublin and gave a series of public assaults against Christian beliefs.

The next morning he was in a hurry to catch a train. He took one of Dublin’s horse-drawn taxis, and assumed the driver had been instructed where he wanted to go. “Hurry!” Huxley shouted, “I’m almost late. Drive fast!”

The driver whipped his horses and off they went. After a while, Huxley looked out the window of the taxicab and noticed they were headed west instead of east. “Do you know where you’re going?” Huxley asked. The driver shouted back, “No, your honor. But I am driving very fast!”

We don’t always know where we’re going, but we’re getting there fast.

I have taught guitar lessons to quite a few people. Invariably, they want to learn to play a song at the proper tempo first. Later, as they improve, they assume they will learn to play it without making mistakes.

But they won’t. One of my sisters is a music professor. She says you must first learn to play correctly, and then work to increase the tempo. If you begin by playing fast, making lots of mistakes in the process, you are actually training your brain to play the mistakes. So,even though you need both correct fingering and proper tempo, the order is crucial.

The same thing is true for your inner life. We have to begin by slowing down. The Bible says we need to take time to meditate on God’s law. Then, when we start racing around, at least we’ll be reading in the right direction.

(text copyright 2012 by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

Story of the Day for Tuesday October 21, 2014

Stop Killing them with Kindness




I have become everything to everyone, in order that, of everyone, I might save some.

1 Corinthians 9:22

After Operation Desert Storm, the Iraqi dictator, Saddam Hussein, launched reprisals against the Kurds. Although they were fellow Iraqis, the Kurds were an independent ethnic group – largely opposed to the dictates of Hussein.

In April of 1991, about one and a half million Kurds became refugees – fleeing for the Turkish border – most of them on foot.

The U.S. came to the aid of the Kurds. Transport planes flew over the Kurdish camps and dropped huge crates of food and supplies to the starving refugees.

The airdrop was greeted, not with shouts of joy, but outrage. Even though the large crates were dropped with parachutes, the elderly and children were too weak to move out of the way. As a result, the airdropped crates were crushing them to death.

Some Kurds were so furious that they refused to eat the food – even though they were starving.

Our intentions were well-meaning. The Kurds were not angered by our benevolence, but by the way it was delivered.

I have seen non-Christians upset by the message of Jesus, but more often than not, they are annoyed by the messenger. Our intentions may be compassionate, but when we are insensitive to the culture and perspective of the people we seek to reach, we can create an unnecessary barrier to the Good News.

The apostle Paul would never compromise the truth, but he was a master of accommodating himself to the culture of those he wished to reach. Around Jewish people, he argues from the Old Testament Scriptures because they accepted them as the authority of God. He observed Jewish rituals and holidays.

But when he went to the pagan world, he was sensitive to their culture. He found common ground in the God of creation. Instead of quoting Scripture all over the place, he quoted from their poets and philosophers. He used their customs as a launching pad to explain the message about Jesus.

Many of the methods used in past generations to bring people to Jesus are not very effective today. How do we reach people today? I don’t know. But I do know that we need to imitate the attitude of the apostle Paul and accommodate our message to the individual we want to reach.

Sometimes that means we should do more listening than talking.

Oh, and before I forget, the U.S. military did listen to the Kurds. They altered the contents of their supplies and sent more milk for the babies. They switched from planes to helicopters, and dropped the supplies on gentle mountain slopes.

We cared enough to stop killing them with kindness.

(copyright 2012 by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

Story of the Day for Monday October 6, 2014

The Nameplate on His Suitcase


Jesus said . . .”Do you still not understand?”

Mark 8:17

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle created one of the greatest fictional detectives: Sherlock Holmes. Doyle is said to enjoy telling stories where he becomes the butt of the joke.

Once, as the story goes, he left a railway station in Paris and hailed a taxi. When a taxi pulled up, he got in and was about to tell the taxi driver where he wanted to go, when the driver asked, “Where can I take you, Mr. Doyle?”

Doyle was surprised that the taxi driver recognized him, and asked whether he knew him by sight.

“No sir, I’ve never seen you before.”

Doyle was puzzled and asked what made him think he was Conan Doyle.

“This morning’s paper,” he said, “had a story about you being on vacation in Marseilles. This is the taxi stand where people who return from Marseilles always come to. Your skin color tells me you’ve been on vacation. The ink spot on your right index finger suggests to me that you’re a writer. Your clothing is very English, and not French. Adding up all those pieces of information, I deduced that you are Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.”

“This is truly amazing,” Doyle replied. “You are a real life counterpart to my fictional creation, Sherlock Holmes.”

“There is one other thing,” the driver said.

“What’s that?”

“Your name is on the front of your suitcase.”

When Jesus walked among us, he didn’t blurt out his identity – that he was God come in human flesh. Instead, he dropped loaded clues. And we must remember that even Jesus’ chosen disciples didn’t fully know who they were following at first. When Jesus calmed a furious storm on the lake, they asked, “Who is this?”

The disciples struggled to connect the dots. Jesus flashed one clue after another, but the disciples couldn’t pick up on them. “Do you still not see or understand?” Jesus asked them.

Why was Jesus so coy about who he really was? He wasn’t trying to tease us; he was simply waiting for the right time.

When the Jewish high council sat in a midnight session, the high priest demanded, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?”

“I am.”

You don’t have to be Sherlock Holmes to figure out what Jesus was waiting for. He was waiting for the moment when he could offer his life for yours. Only then did he publicly reveal the nameplate on his suitcase.

(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)
(image: http://kaarre.files.wordpress.com/2014/10/b0273-vintagesuitcasenameplate.jpg)

Covered Over In His Love

Story of the Day for Thursday October 2, 2014

Covered Over In His Love


http://ih1.redbubble.net/image.10252721.7701/flat,550x550,075,f.u4.jpgThe Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in kindness. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his wrath forever. He does not treat us as our sins deserve nor repay us according to our crimes.

Psalm 103:8-9

When God looks at the wreckage we have made of His beautiful world, how should he respond? He responds with anger.

We are slightly embarrassed by the countless biblical references to God’s wrath. But our problem stems from thinking God gets angry for the same reason we do: wounded pride, vanity, selfishness, an ugly mood.

God is angry because He is good. Anger is the proper response to evil, and God is justly angered by all the sin and injustice on this planet. A loving and good God will not allow evil to claim victory.

But all this talk about God’s anger and wrath is Old Testament stuff, right? Wrong. Paul, especially, speaks repeatedly of God’s anger — both his present anger on evil and the coming day of His wrath.

Yet, what if God Himself could suffer the punishment for the evils we have committed? What if God did exactly that by taking on human form and walking to the “Place of the Skull” to suffer in our place? This is the message of good news. Jesus has suffered the anger of God in our place.

Prairie fires often hit fast and devastate farmlands. Once, a grassfire swept through a farm on the plains. When it was over a farmer’s land was nothing but smoke and blackness. As he walked out back to survey the damage he saw the charred remains of a hen. He kicked the hen over and couldn’t believe what he saw. Out from under the hen popped several little chicks. The mother hen covered her chicks with her body to shield them from the fire.

Jesus is our refuge from the wrath of God. Paul says that God’s anger is poured out on all those who refuse that refuge. But, in Romans 5, he says, “Since we have now been declared ‘Not Guilty’ by [Jesus’] blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him.”

When we trust in Christ’s sacrifice for us, we need no longer fear the anger of God. We can rest secure in his forgiveness.

So, think of what this means? We have not acted rightly toward God. He ought to be angry and seek vengeance. Instead, he forgives.

Already in the Old Testament, the Bible speaks these words of comfort, “He does not treat us as our sins deserve, or repay us according to our iniquities.” He has covered them over in His love.

(text copyright 2012 by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)
(image:  http://ih1.redbubble.net/image.10252721.7701/flat,550×550,075,f.u4.jpg)

Don’t Sell Them a Lantern

Story of the Day for Tuesday September 30, 2014

Don’t Sell Them a Lantern

Jesus sent messengers on ahead to go into a Samaritan village to prepare for his stay. But the Samaritans would not welcome him because his destination was Jerusalem.

Luke 9:52-53

In the late 1800s, a young William C. Coleman got a job selling typewriters. He left his home in Kansas on a sales trip to Alabama, and noticed a stunningly bright lamp shining in a store window. He discovered that, while lanterns used kerosene for fuel, a company from Memphis, Tennessee used gasoline instead.

Coleman quit selling typewriters and began selling gas lanterns. The lantern company owner offered Coleman both their patent and franchise, so he quickly scrambled together enough money to buy the company.

In 1900, he took his business west and set up shop in Kingfisher, Oklahoma. But he was crushed to discover that no one wanted to buy his lanterns. Another company had already been in the area selling an inefficient brand of gas lantern. Repeatedly, he heard the same story: “Don’t try to sell me one of those. Already bought one. They don’t work; they won’t be lit.” Everyone had gone back to their dim, but reliable, kerosene lamps.

http://www.uncadeaudesidees.fr/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/idee_cadeau_lanterne.jpgC. A. Roberts, in his book, A Life Worth Living, relates how the discouraged young salesman returned to his dark hotel room. He could see people in the store across the street, which was dimly lit by three kerosene lamps.

Then the insight hit him: “I’ll stop selling lamps and start selling light!”

He raced across the street to see the store owner, who reminded him he wasn’t interested in his gas lanterns. But Coleman told him he wasn’t selling lanterns; he was selling light. “You pay me to light your store. If the lamps don’t work, that’s my problem.” He didn’t ask the store owner to pay for the lantern – only the light.

Customers loved the idea, and soon he was servicing customers as far away as San Diego. William soon became wealthy as the founder of the Coleman Lantern Company.

You can hardly imagine hatred more intense than that between the Israelites and the Samaritans. Galileans traveling south to Jerusalem would cross the Jordan River and make a loop around Samaria, rather than travel through it.

Jesus, however, loved Samaritans. He offered an immoral Samaritan woman the water of life. We still speak today of being a “Good Samaritan” based on the story Jesus told to a Jewish lawyer.

As he began his final journey to Jerusalem, Jesus ignored the circuitous road and traveled straight south from Galilee to Jerusalem. When Samaritans learned he was heading for Jerusalem, however, they refused to show him any hospitality.

Jesus didn’t get angry. He understood. The Samaritans, like many you know, have been deeply hurt and mistreated by others in the name of religion.

Usually, the first thing they need is not a sermon, but a listening ear. And don’t try to sell them a lantern. Let them see, instead, the brightness of the Light.

(text copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)
(image: http://www.uncadeaudesidees.fr/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/idee_cadeau_lanterne.jpg)

Story of the Day for Monday September 29, 2014


Not Just “Pie in the Sky”



Hope that is seen is not hope, because if he sees it, why does he still hope for it? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it patiently.

Romans 8:24

One of the marks of our secular age is the loss of hope. If we believe that the future will not fulfill our longings, then the result is despair. Hopelessness means not only that the future will be bleak, but the very realization means that our present lives will be marked by gloom.

John Maxwell talks of a small town in Maine that stood in the way of a proposed hydroelectric dam. All the residents were told that their town would be submerged by the dam and they would have to relocate.

As construction began on the dam, the town changed. No one painted their house. Roads and sidewalks were not repaired. Long before the dam was finished, the town looked shabby and abandoned. One resident noted, “Where there is no faith in the future, there is no power in the present.”

When modern man abandons God, he abandons hope. Sigmund Freud was honest enough to admit, “My courage fails me, therefore, at the thought of rising up as a prophet before my fellowmen. I bow to their reproach that I have no consolation to offer them.”

Many ridicule our Christian hope. They see it as a illusory dream which lulls us into inactivity in the present world. “Pie in the sky by and by.” But that is not how hope works. It does not weaken our daily actions but invigorates them.

To break the back of the South and end the Civil War, General William T. Sherman marched through the heart of the South. As Sherman’s army pushed toward Atlanta, his adversary, General Hood circled north and began attacking his supply line. Hood’s men tore up nine miles of the railroad that supplied Sherman’s huge army. Then the Confederates moved toward the Union’s main supply post at Altoona, which held over a million and a half rations for Sherman’s army.

The Union army had less than 2000 men under Brigadier General John M. Corse to defend Altoona Pass from an advancing Confederate division of over 3000. After furious fighting, Corse had lost a third of his men and was forced to retreat to another position further up the pass. How much longer could Corse hold out?

But then, General Sherman, on the top of Kenesaw Mountain twelve miles away sent a signal-flag message to Corse to “hold fast; we are coming.” Corse’s men let out a cheer. Although the fighting was fierce, Corse’s outnumbered men stubbornly refused to surrender or retreat. They fought valiantly because they knew that help was on the way. It was that hope that enabled them to hold the pass and save the Union supply depot.

The Bible says, “We rejoice in the hope of God’s glory.” But this hope is not just “pie in the sky.” Hope gives us power to persist through all adversity. And that is why Scripture continues, “Not only that, but we also rejoice in our trials, because we know that trials produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character hope. And hope does not disappoint us. . . “

(text copyright 2012 by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

Learn To Listen Intently

Story of the Day for Friday September 26, 2014

Learn To Listen Intently



I waited for you to speak. I listened to your thoughts as you searched for words. I gave you my full attention.

Job 32:11-12

William Osler (pronounced “OH – sler”) is one of the most influential physicians in history, but few – apart from the medical community – know him.

He is called the “Father of modern medicine,” and for good reason. He was one of the “Big Four” founding professors at Johns Hopkins Hospital. He created the first residency program. In England he was knighted for his medical achievements.

Osler was obsessed with paying careful attention to the little things. When he served as medical professor at Oxford University, he lectured his students – stressing the vital importance of paying attention to details. Careful observation, he told them, was the key to accurate diagnosis of a patient’s ailment.

A diabetic’s urine, Osler pointed out, often had sugar in it. The professor then displayed a bottle of urine, dipped his finger into the bottle, and brought his hand to his mouth to taste the urine. Passing the bottle around the room, he asked the students to do what he had just done.

The students dutifully participated in the unpleasant task – knowing that if they paid careful attention, they might taste the sugar in the urine. After the student’s had finished their exercise, Osler said, “Now you will understand what I mean when I speak about details, because had you really been watching, you would have seen that I put my index finger into the urine . . . but my middle finger into my mouth.”

Today, any licensed doctor must first serve a residency under a supervising physician. But Sir William Osler was the first physician to establish the practice. He was adamant about the need for academic study, but even more passionate about spending time with the patient, and listening patiently to them.

“He who studies medicine without books,” he said, “sails an uncharted sea. But he who studies medicine without patients does not go to sea at all.” Osler was the first to drag his students out of the lecture hall for bedside clinical training.

The only epitaph Osler wanted on his tombstone was that he took his students to be with patients at their bedside.

Osler originally wanted to become a pastor, but I’m glad that God led him into medicine. Yet, oddly enough, he brings us a spiritual message. First, you learn to pay attention to your teacher (and note which finger he sticks in the urine bottle!), and then you learn to listen intently to those you seek to serve.

I was taught to learn theology, and then to give the world a canned speech. William Osler has reminded me that – yes – I should begin by learning, by paying attention to my Teacher. But, then, it’s better to take time to listen carefully to those who are hurting. The more I learn to listen; the more I’ll have something worth saying.

(text copyright 2012 by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

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