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Story of the Day for Friday July 3, 2015

 A  Misuse of the Imagination

                  “Don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow can worry about itself.  Each day has enough troubles of its own.”

Matthew 6:34

Michael Hodgin tells the story about a woman who was so worried she had an incurable liver condition that she went to see her doctor about it.

The doctor assured her she was okay. “You wouldn’t know if you had this condition,” he explained, “because it causes no discomfort of any kind.”

The woman gasped. “Those are my symptoms exactly!”

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There’s a road sign outside my hometown which says, “WORRY IS A MISUSE OF THE IMAGINATION.” We can imagine positive things we can accomplish in the world, or we can imagine all kinds of horrible tragedies that might rain down upon us.

Are you are in the habit of imagining all the things that could possibly go wrong in the future?  If your list of possible nightmares ever reaches an end, it only signifies a lack of creativity of your part – there’s no end to the list of bad things that could conceivably happen to us.

When you find yourself knotted up with anxiety about the future, I think there are some things you need to know. The first is that Jesus doesn’t tell you not to worry because he won’t let bad things happen to you. Bad things will happen to you.

Jesus wants you to know that he’s walking with you through those times, and he’ll give you everything you need. But the things you need can only be found by faith. Worry is a thief. It robs you of the security which is only found in trust.

Worry is a spectacular waste of time. It’s like a rocking chair: there’s a lot of movement, but we don’t go anywhere. Jesus put it this way, “Who of you by worrying can add a single cubit to his height?”

Don’t waste your days imagining what might happen tomorrow. God never lets us live a “tomorrow”; we only get to live “today.”

Sir Wilfred Grenfell is honored with a feast day in the Episcopal Church (October 9) because of his compassionate missionary work among the poor in Labrador, Canada.

In April, 1908, he was rushing on his dogsled to perform surgery for a boy.  Taking a shortcut over an ocean bay, he broke through the ice.  He managed to crawl onto an ice flow, which was heading toward open waters.  Alone along a desolate shoreline, he faced the concerns of the present moment – drying his soaking clothing, unraveling rope to make insulation for his boots, and making a signal flag.

Three days later, he was rescued. His observation captured the wisdom of Jesus’ teaching, “There was nothing to fear. I had done all I could; the rest lay in God’s hands.”

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


Story of the Day for Thursday July 2, 2015

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 . . .”

Mark 1:16-17

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.

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https://drbransfordmd.files.wordpress.com/2009/11/lionelttrainsantefe.jpg

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.

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

Story of the Day for Wednesday July 1, 2015

It’s Okay to Change Your Answer

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http://www.hanksmedia.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/test-650×400.jpg

Just as iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.

Proverbs 27:17

The secret to becoming more Christ-like is, oddly enough, to behave in a way that Christ never did.

Even though Jesus was often criticized for his behavior, he never admitted he was wrong. That’s because he was never wrong.

In our case, however, not much is going to happen in our lives until we learn to listen to the criticisms of others and admit when we’re wrong.

If you’re thinking, “Okay, but I’m seldom wrong when others criticize me,” then you’ve come to the right place, because I intend to show you that you’re . . .wrong. Let’s start with this: suppose you’re taking a test and then go back and change your answer. Is your changed answer more likely to improve your score? Three quarters of college students say no – your changed answer is more likely to be incorrect. Professors feel the same way, only more so. Only 16% of professors believe that changing your initial answer on a test will improve your score.

Guess what? They’re wrong. Researchers have been studying this subject for over 70 years now. One researcher examined 33 different studies on this question and every study agreed: students who change an answer on a test are more likely to improve their score.

So, why do the majority of people still favor their initial answer as the correct one? Could it point to a deeper issue? Could it be that we have an aversion to admitting that we were wrong in something we did? Could it be that we are so enamored with our views and opinions that we are reluctant to admit we’re wrong? That’s what it seems like.

If we want to grow into the image of Christ, we must stop being so impressed with ourselves. Our focus must not be in defending how right we are, but in admitting how wrong we are. Only a humble heart can admit faults. Only one who admits his faults can know how good it feels to have Jesus forgive him.

Do you know what I do when others point out flaws in my character? My first instinct is to defend myself. But I cannot grow from the correction of others until I begin by considering the possibility they are probably right.

Darn it.

Others can see faults in us to which we are blind. We need to listen, evaluate, repent . . . and know that it is okay to “change our answer.”

Yeah, yeah, I realize there are many times when those who criticize us are wrong. But they aren’t wrong as often as we think.

We aren’t going to make much progress in our spiritual life until we learn that others can see things in ourselves that we cannot.

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

Back In the Game


Story of the Day for Tuesday June 30, 2015

Back In the Game

Pharaoh…tried to kill Moses, but Moses fled from Pharaoh and lived in Midian.

Exodus 2:15

Mike Veeck made history with his “Disco Demolition Day,” but he wishes he hadn’t. As head of promotions for the Chicago White Sox, Mike Veeck invited fans to bring a disco recording to be blown up at Comiskey Park between a double header.

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http://www.moleymagneticsinc.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/DiscoDemolitionNightA.jpg

Thursday nights usually brought in only a smattering of fans, but on July 12, 1979, Veeck planned on a crowd of 35,000. Yet, even he had no idea how many youth were sick of disco. The stadium overflowed with 50,000 fans, and another 20-30,000 still pouring in at the ticket gates. Police had to close the freeway exit to the stadium.

The crate of records scheduled for demolition filled so fast the stadium staff could accept no more. Suddenly, thousands of kids, still clutching their LPs, realized they looked a lot like frisbees.

The crate of disco records was dynamited in the outfield. None of the planners realized, however, that it might also blow a hole in the playing field.

Meanwhile, Veeck was concerned the fans outside would crash the gates and ordered half of his security workers outside. As soon as he did, the fans inside realized there was nothing standing between them and a party. Thousands of youth stormed the ball field. They dug up the bases and pitcher’s mound. They tore apart the batting cage while others set images of John Travolta on fire.

Riot control police were called in and eventually restored order. But for only the fourth time in major league history, a baseball game was forfeited and the White Sox lost without taking the field.

Mike Veeck, the genius behind this harebrained fiasco, was fired. Blacklisted by all the other ball clubs, Veeck spiraled into a tailspin. He began drinking heavily. His wife divorced him.

Ten years later, Marv Goldklang made a concerted search for Veeck, and found him in Florida, where he worked hanging sheet rock.

Goldklang realized Mike Veeck knew how to fill empty seats at a ballpark, so he hired him to work in the minor leagues. Veeck went to work for the St. Paul Saints and sold out every game for the season. His magic soon spread to every ball club he worked with. Today, he is recognized as the greatest promoter the game of baseball has ever seen.

Moses was raised in a palace by Pharaoh’s daughter. But one day he murdered a man and when Pharaoh found out, he sought to kill him. Moses fled from Pharaoh’s palace to a barren wilderness, where he scratched out a living herding sheep.

Banishment seems a fitting end for the authors of murder and “Disco Demolition Day.” But the Lord has the careless habit of finding those who have failed greatly, and not only forgiving them, but restoring them for service.

Some people scream at God because they think his actions are too harsh, but most are scandalized in finding a God who is far too kind — a God who wants to see those who failed get back in the game.

(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

A Costly Victory


Story of the Day for Monday June 29, 2015

A Costly Victory

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Make sure that no one is lacking in God’s grace and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble . . .

Hebrews 12:15

Sometimes winning is worse than losing.

I knew this guy, whom I’ll call Romiere, who confided to me that he used to be a con man. He shared some of his secrets in swindling people, which I won’t divulge because . . . well, just because. But, since one of his tricks so was so ingenious (and not strictly illegal), I’ll share it with you as long as you promise not to tell anyone else.

Romiere would walk into a tavern, sit next to a stranger at the bar, and strike up a friendly conversation. Then my ex-con man friend would take off his hat, cover the guy’s drink. “Bet you a quarter I can drink your whiskey without moving my hat.”

“No way; you’re on.”

As soon as the guy took the bet, Romiere would lift his hat, slug down the guy’s whiskey, and say, “You’re right – I couldn’t do it. You win the bet.”

Romiere smiled and said, “I would lose the bet, but it usually took the guy a while to realize I just took his drink for a quarter.”

Have you ever heard of a Pyrrhic victory? Around 280 B.C., Pyhhrus was king of Epirus (which was between modern-day Albania and Greece). He fought the Roman army at Heraclea and Asculum and won both battles.

Even though Pyhhrus was victorious in battle, his tiny country sustained enormous losses. The Romans lost more soldiers in the battles, but they could easily replenish their military strength. When one man congratulated King Pyhhrus on his victories, the king replied that one more such victory would utterly destroy him.

In a Pyrhhic victory, you win – but your victory is so costly, you would have been better off if you had not succeeded.

Getting revenge is a Pyrrhic victory. Even if we retaliate and hurt those who hurt us, we will pay dearly in the attempt. Hatred breeds bitterness, which rots the soul. Have you ever met a bitter person whom you would label as happy?

When Abraham Lincoln was an attorney, an angry man stormed into his office, wanting to sue a poor man who owed him money. Lincoln tried to dissuade him – informing him his legal fees would be four times the amount owed him.

The angry man didn’t care. He wanted his debtor to pay.

So, Lincoln charged his fee, took a quarter of it and gave it to the man who was unable to pay his debt. Lincoln made a tidy profit, the debtor was relieved to have his debt paid off.

But it took a while for the angry man to realize that victory could be so costly.

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

Mondegreen


Story of the Day for Tuesday June 2, 2015

Mondegreen

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I heard it, but I did not understand.

Daniel 12:8

When my wife was a teenager she worked at the Spotted Bear Guest Ranch. One day, as they prepared potatoes, Connie, the other cook asked her: “What did you call these?”

“Hog rotten potatoes.”

For years, Darla heard others talk about hog rotten potatoes, but never connected them with the written words: au gratin potatoes.

When we listen to music our minds struggle to make sense of lyrics that we can’t quite understand. One woman heard the Rolling Stones’ lyrics: “I’ll never be your beast of burden” as “I’ll never leave your pizza burnin’.” When the Beatles recorded Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, John Lennon sang: “the girl with kaleidoscope eyes.” Some, however, heard it as, “The girl with colitis goes by.”

Because of their perennial popularity, Christmas songs are inevitably prone to misinterpretation. One kid was caught singing, “Dashing through the snow, with one horse, soap, and sleigh,” and ended the verse with, “What fun it is to write and sing, a slaying song with knives.”

As a child, Sylvia Wright’s mother read poetry to her. She remembered a 17th-century ballad, “The Bonny Earl O’Moray.” She heard the end of the first stanza as:

They have slain the Earl O’Moray

And Lady Mondegreen.

Years later, she read the ballad and was surprised to learn the last line actually read: “And laid him on the green.”

Wright wrote about her mishearing of the words in a magazine article in 1954, and now “mondegreen” has been accepted in English dictionaries to define an error resulting from a mishearing of something said or sung.

The people in Jesus’ day loved to discuss Scripture. The give and take of civil, but spirited debate with those of opposing viewpoints was a healthy way to correct mondegreens and sand off the rough edges.

Access to various beliefs and ideas has exploded in our generation. Yet, the trend today is not to engage in discussion with those of opposing beliefs. Instead, we find religious and political groups huddling together and discussing their beliefs only with those who agree with them. The result has been an increase in misinformation and the growth of whacky ideas.

Unless you feel very insecure about your understanding of the Bible, discuss it with others — especially those who disagree with you.

It was only when the four-year-old Canadian, Ryan, began singing that his parents had the opportunity to correct his version of the national anthem. The last line says, “O Canada, we stand on guard for thee” rather than ” . . . we stand on cars and freeze.”

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

Story of the Day for Monday June 1, 2015

God Doesn’t Try to Shout

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He awakens me morning by morning. He awakens my ear to listen as one who wants to learn.

Isaiah 50:4

I don’t have a TV, which means, among other things, that I have to sweet-talk friends into letting me watch Packer football games on their TVs.

Some think TV is evil, but it’s not. It broadcasts everything: from the raunchy, to the trivial, to the educational, to the inspiring (and there I go, talking about Packer games again).

After my wife took a sledgehammer to the first ten TVs I bought, I realized I didn’t really need one after all. (She didn’t actually use a sledgehammer, she just took several years teaching me what quiet can do to your soul.)

I still think TVs are a cool invention. My problem is that I don’t have much self-control in this area.

When I wake up, I don’t greet the morning with a glad cry. Instead, I stumble into the kitchen and fumble with the coffeemaker. We heat our house with wood, so I plop in the comfy chair with my coffee cup and stare into the flames.

Now, if I had a TV and a remote control by my side, I have no doubt what would happen next. The TV would blink to life.

“. . .we interrupt to bring you a live broadcast of the school bus accident outside of Wichita. Peter Manning, from our local affiliate, is on the scene. Peter?”

“Sarah, it is chaos here. We have just learned that seven children are dead and many more injured . . . (blah, blah, blah) . . . Back to you Sarah.”

“Thank you, Peter. And now back to our report on the brutal murder outside the mayor’s office in Atlanta. Police are looking for two suspects who . . . (blah, blah, blah)”

“Please stay tuned after the commercial break as Chris brings you a shocking report you won’t want to miss: ‘Is the radon in your basement strong enough to kill all the termites that are eating away the foundation of your home?’”

This is how I used to begin my morning. But then I discovered I could gain the same benefit if I put on a backpack stuffed with three bags of concrete, took a couple slugs of cheap whiskey, and let all the air out of my car tires, to start my day.

Now, I don’t think we need to tell my wife that she was right – it would only go to her head and then she’ll think she’s right about the value of my attending Tupperware™ parties with her.

But she was right.

And, before I sound unbearably sanctimonious, you should know that I do check out the news on the internet later in the day, and I really do like Tupperware™ containers. But I have found that God doesn’t try to shout above the noise I create in my life. He waits until I am ready to listen. And in the quiet of the morning (after a very large cup of coffee), he’s been filling my life with good things.

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