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Archive for September, 2011


Story of the Day for Friday September 30, 2011

In honor of the year anniversary of posting stories we are tonight repeating the very first Story of the Day posted on line.  We hope you enjoy it as much as we do.  God remains the same…eternally!

My Wife the Ninny

 

I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall.  I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me.   

Yet this I call to mind and therefore have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his mercies never fail.  They are new every morning. 

                                                             Lamentations 3:19-23

When our children were little my wife always insisted I should take them to the clinic for immunization shots.  I tried to convince her that children need a mother at such a traumatic moment.  And then I would appeal to her higher nature by telling her not to be such a ninny.

Yet, despite my patient reasoning and crystalline logic, she remains adamant that I take them for their shots.

The ninny.

So, off I drive to the clinic with a little child bundled in the car seat. When the nurse walks into the room with the syringe, she sighs and apologizes – as if this is all her fault. Nurses hate this part of their duties.

I hold my little toddler on my lap — this cute little lump of sweetness and joy.  How swiftly the fortunes of life are about to change.

What happens next is always the same.  One moment they sit on my lap, secure and content.  Then the needle. And then the piercing scream that echoes into the next county.  The cry that pierces a daddy’s heart.

Want to know what my children do next?  They hug me.  They cling to me for comfort as they sob in pain.

I cannot explain to them why I did not defend them – why I did not fight off the strange woman with the needle who attacked them without provocation.  I cannot explain that this present wound will pass, but the benefits will carry on.  I cannot explain that I deliberately took them here because I love them dearly.  My children are too young to understand.   All I can do is hold them tight and tell them it’s okay.

Do you think God would do the same thing to you?

Do you think he wants you to cling tighter to him?  That he wants to hold you tight and let you know it is going to be okay?

 

So what do you do when the tears come and life hurts so badly?  Cling to your heavenly Father. Blow your nose.  And let his love dry your tears.

                                                                       (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

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Story of the Day for Thursday September 29, 2011

Tying Branches to the Tails of Horses

                     . . .that we might no longer be infants, tossed by the waves, and blown around by every wind of teaching and by the craftiness and cunning of men in their deceitful scheming.  

                                                                  Ephesians 4:14

 Do you know what conqueror created the largest contiguous Empire in history? I’ll give you a clue: his empire stretched from the Pacific Ocean to the Adriatic Sea, and included China, Baghdad, and Moscow.

His name was Genghis Khan, and in the 13th century, his Mongol army was unstoppable.

 

He didn’t rely simply on brute force and superior numbers. His army was well-trained, but Genghis Khan was a master of deception.

In 1241, the Hungarians seemed to be strong and willing to fight to the death. Since Ghengis Khan didn’t have the strength to stage a frontal assault, he surrounded the enemy. The Hungarians, however, noticed that they failed to completely surround them. There was a gap in the lines through which they could escape. As soldiers broke ranks to escape from their attackers, they had no idea they were running into the trap. The Mongols created an “escape hatch” so that, once in the open, they could be funneled into a trap where they would be overwhelmed.

In 1258, the Mongols invaded Szechuan with 40,000 but spread rumors that they had 100,000 soldiers. Genghis Khan set up camp and ordered every soldier to light five campfires to create the illusion that they he had an overwhelming opposing army. On the horizon, the Mongols would tie branches to the tails of their horses to stir up dust in order to make it appear to their adversary that a large army of enemy reinforcements was arriving.

When near the Dneiper River, the Mongols were far outnumbered by 80,000 warriors led by Prince Mstitslav of Kiev. The Mongols sent a token force on horseback to attack, but then they turned and retreated. The prince’s cavalry realized the Mongols were few in numbers, and left their defensive position to pursue them. The Mongols retreated to the Kalka River, with their enemy strung out in pursuit. Then, the bulk of the Mongol army waited to ambush the attackers from both sides. The retreating Mongols suddenly spun around and attacked from the front – destroying their adversary.

 

Truth poses no threat to the believer. The Christian community has always welcomed debate with atheists, evolutionists, pro-abortionists – you name it.

But, the Bible urges us to grow up in our faith. Spiritual maturity doesn’t make us more loved by God, but it does make us wiser to the many deceptions and false claims that intimidate those young in the faith.

Genghis Khan could never have accomplished what he did without the cunning to deceive his enemies.

The only way deception can hurt you is to believe it.

                                                    (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

 

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Story of the Day for Wednesday September 28, 2011

Team Barnabas

                     When Paul came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him.  They didn’t believe he really was a disciple.  But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. 

                                                    Acts 9:26-27

 I don’t know if you’re supposed to have “favorite” Bible characters, so don’t tell anyone I said this, but one of my favorite Bible characters is Barnabas.

Barnabas is not what his parents named him. His real name was Joseph, but he was so good at lifting the spirits of people that they called him “Barnabas,” which means, “son of encouragement.”

Without Barnabas there would be no Paul.  Saul (who would later be named “Paul”) used to persecute the church and all the disciples were afraid of him.  Barnabas, however, convinced them to have Paul accepted as a fellow believer.

As you read the book of Acts, you’ll find at least 20 times where Luke says “Paul and Barnabas” did this or that on their missionary trips.  But, do you want to know something?  When I think about the book of Acts, it is about the missionary trips of Paul.  Paul is in the limelight and Barnabas almost seems to drop out of the picture.

 

Are you a Barnabas?  Do you see that it is just as important to help and encourage others as it is to be the one getting all the applause?

I guess it is OK to have favorite baseball players, so let me tell you one of mine: Willie Mays.  Willie Mays was a great hitter.  He hit a lot of doubles.  But, all of a sudden, his doubles declined rapidly.

Do you know why?  When Mays would hit a double, the next batter up was Willie McCovey, who was the best power hitter on the team.  Rather than let him bat, with first base open, they would simply walk him intentionally.

Once Mays realized that his doubles took the bat out of the hands of McCovey, he would deliberately hold up at first base, so that McCovey would have an opportunity to knock one out of the park.  Willie Mays worked to make his teammate look better.

You have to be a person of great humility to help someone else become greater by getting less attention yourself. But, without people who encourage others, the church would have no effective ministry.

Willie Mays would have won more glory if he smacked a lot of doubles rather than singles.  But it is so much more satisfying when we are working for something greater than ourselves – something greater than our own glory.  Mays played on a team.

 

Why is it that I imagine Barnabas as one of the happiest and most content of the early disciples?  (The Bible doesn’t say anything about that.) Deep down, we find it impossible to imagine this first band of disciples changing a man’s name to “son of encouragement” – and then picturing the guy as morose.  Or obsessed with his own ego.

When we stop to think about it we know that those who delight in encouraging others are those who live with a twinkle in their eyes.

 

 

Have you heard of Haley’s comet?  If so, you are mistaken.  It isn’t Haley (as in “hale-ee”), but Halley (as in “hall-ee”).  Let me tell you about Edmund Halley.

But not right now.  First, let’s talk about Sir Isaac Newton.  You know him: the apple falls on his head, supposedly, and he comes up with a mathematical formula for gravity.  After Newton published his findings, he went on to become one of the most famous scientists of all time.

Yet, without Edmund Halley, we probably would never know about Newton.  Halley challenged Newton to think through his theories.  When Newton made mathematical mistakes in his calculations, Halley corrected them.  When Newton wrote up his discoveries, Halley edited his work.  When Newton refused to publish his findings, Halley published them, and paid the printing costs out of his own pocket.  Historians who know this story call it one of the most selfless acts in science history.

And those of us who do know about the comet he discovered rarely pronounce his name right.  Halley was a Barnabas.  He is virtually unknown, but because of his encouragement, he gave Sir Isaac Newton to the world.

Maybe it’s time for us to step up to the plate and. . . hit a single – so that someone else can knock it out of the park.

                                                     (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

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Story of the Day for Tuesday September 27, 2011

Why Some Good Manners Are Bad

                     But God has composed the Body as to give greater honor to those lacking it.

                                                                1 Corinthians 12:24

 Finns are considered one of the most informal cultures in the world. Some have said their national costume is the tracksuit. They seldom wear suits and ties and normally call teachers by their first names.

The Finns don’t make a big fuss about a person’s status in society.  But they are kind, and understand their informality could easily offend those from other cultures. Thus, guidebooks on social etiquette have been frequent best-sellers in Finland.

 

Manners should be motivated by respect for other people. But, sometimes, manners originate to show our dis-respect for them.

 

In medieval times, feudal societies marked their social status by their “manners.” Our English word, “courtesy,” originally referred to the behavior of those in royal “courts” – as opposed to the feudal peasants. Those who received a formal education adopted distinct manners to indicate their superiority to the uneducated masses. Before 1611, dining forks were unknown in England. After Thomas Coryate introduced them from Italy, they soon became markers of social status and sophistication.

Don’t get me wrong: I highly encourage showing respect to those in offices of authority. While performing their duties, we’re doing a good thing when we call a judge “Your Honor,” or a policeman, “Officer.” But we must remember that drinking tea with our pinkie in the air can become a thinly disguised means of displaying our snobbishness.

 

The Bible says we should show respect for those in authority. But God destroys snobbishness by flip-flopping the rules. He has composed the body of Christ so that those who lack status are to be shown special honor.

 

A century ago, Cecil Rhodes was, to put it mildly, an influential man. He founded the Rhodes Scholarship, the largest diamond company in the world (DeBeers), and even founded a country (Rhodesia).

As a British statesman, Rhodes was a stickler for proper dress. Once, Rhodes invited a young man to dinner. The man arrived by train and was directly escorted to Rhode’s mansion in his travel-stained clothes. The young man was aghast to see that all the other guests wearing full evening dress.

When Rhodes spotted his young guest, he immediately disappeared. When he returned to his guests, he was no longer wearing evening dress, but instead, an old suit similar to that of the young man who just arrived off the train.

 

Manners can be used to flaunt social status. But manners can also be used to show that, in God’s eyes, we’re all loved equally. And to remind each other of that fact.

(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

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Story of the Day for Monday September 26, 2011

How Dare You Judge Us!

                     He was despised and forsaken by the people. A man of sorrows, acquainted with grief. 

                                                     Isaiah 53:3

 On the great Judgment Day, when all stand before God, some in the teeming crowd began to raise their voices. They weren’t weeping with cries of shame or remorse. They were angry.

One of them shouted to those around him, “How can God judge us?”

“Yeah,” shouted a woman, “what does God know about the kind of life and suffering we had to go through?” The woman lifted her arm to reveal the brand of a tattooed number from a Nazi concentration camp.

“Our persecution was unimaginable. We endured beatings, torture, and death!”

A black man stepped forward. “What about this?” He lowered his collar to show an ugly rope burn around his neck.

“Lynched!  For the crime of having dark skin.” He spoke bitterly of the injustice he and his people had suffered: betrayed by Head Hunters, forced into slave ships, separated from family, and forced to live without recourse to justice.

 

Soon everyone had their story to tell. They spoke of the shame of being born an illegitimate child. Lepers painfully recounted what it was like to be an “untouchable” and to live isolated and lonely.  A businessman told his story of financial success – only to be betrayed and defrauded by his friend and business partner, and to die broke.

A movie star edged closer to the center of the complaints. The crowd sneered at her as one who didn’t know what it was like to suffer misfortune at the hands of God.

But the movie star won them over. Through tears, she recounted her life of celebrity. Everybody wanted to know her, but she could trust no one. Wherever she went, she was hounded by crowds pleading for autographs, paparazzi chasing her every move and selling every unflattering photo to the scandal magazines, who created false or misleading headlines of her personal life.

“How would you like it,” she asked, “if, whenever you try to sneak away for a short vacation, you are swarmed by those who could care less about invading your privacy?”

The crowd murmured their approval, and included her in the group.

 

The indignant crowd chose leaders to approach God’s throne and present their grievances. They chose a Jew, a leper, a black, and an untouchable from India. On behalf of the others they presented their case before God.

“How dare you judge us! You sit here removed from the temptations and sufferings we endured on earth, and now you have the gall to judge us for our anger and failure and retaliation against those who hurt us?” Another added, “You don’t know what it’s like to endure what we have on earth.”

There was silence while the leaders awaited God’s response. Then someone stood up before the throne. He stretched before them his nail-pierced hands.

And, in that moment, they realized that God had already served his sentence.

                                                               (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

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There are two NEW stories posted as climbinghigher.org is going off the grid conducting a women’s retreat so if you have not read Thursday’s story be sure to do that also…am posting Friday’s early so we will only miss one day of story posting!  Enjoy!


Story of the Day for Friday September 23, 2011

He Teaches At Your Pace

                     Jesus asked, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, other Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” Then Jesus says, “How about you? Who do you say I am?” 

                                     Matthew 16:13-15

 Michael Hodgin says that when his daughter was four-years old, she lined up all her dolls on the couch in the living room.

“What are you doing?” he asked.

“I’m playing school,” she replied. “I’m the teacher and these are my prisoners.”

 

I understand this girl. For me, the end of a school day didn’t feel like a termination in the advancement of knowledge; the end of a school day felt like a jail break.

 

When Jesus called students to follow him, they didn’t feel forced. They wanted to learn from this rabbi.

Jesus’ teaching methods, however, were nothing short of shocking. He didn’t immediately blurt out all the most important facts they should learn. He didn’t say, “Hey guys, want to follow me?  I’m the Son of God!”

From what we can gather from Matthew’s gospel, Jesus is on the tail end of his ministry, and has never explicitly taught his disciples that he is the Son of the living God. Instead, he tells stories and acts like God’s Son, and lets them chew on it.

 

One of the most respected business consultants, Tom Peters, cited a study in which new workers at major companies were placed in separate groups. In the first group, the company execs explained to the new recruits their company’s basic philosophy. They cited all the reasons why this philosophy should be adopted. In the second group, they didn’t explain the company’s philosophy or give reasons why it should be adopted. Instead, they told stories. McDonald’s told stories about their founder, Ray Kroc, closing down a franchise because he found a dead fly in the kitchen. FedEx told the story about a broken communications cable on a mountain, and how he rented a helicopter (without first getting permission) and flew to the mountain, climbed through the snow, and reconnected the broken cable.

The researchers conducting this study found that new employees who were told stories were far more likely to adopt the philosophy of the company than those who were simply told the attitude and priorities they were expected to hold.

 

When I want someone to learn something important, I’m tempted to ram my points home. I’m still amazed that Jesus didn’t just blurt out all the facts he wanted his disciples to learn. But as I read of Jesus’ patience in letting the truth unfold in its proper time, I’m comforted that he is still patient with me as I learn the lessons of the faith.

And walking away from a lesson Jesus teaches never feels like a jail break.

                                                             (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

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Story of the Day for Thursday September 22, 2011

Panhandlers at Train Stations

 

                  Vindicate me, O God, and plead my case . . .

                                                               Psalm 43:1

One of San Diego’s regular transients was at the train station when John took his stepson, Adam, to catch his ride. Buddy is a panhandler and is well-known to many at the train station. He’s not very fragrant, but neither is he persistent, and never ever rude.

Buddy asked John if he had any change so he could buy a cup of coffee.

“Buddy, I’m sorry, I just don’t have any money on me.”

With John ruled out as a contributor, both Buddy and John looked to Adam. Slightly embarrassed, Adam said he didn’t have any money either.

The three exchanged small talk and then John and Adam walked on.

As soon as they were out of earshot, Adam told his stepdad, “He tried to pick my pocket.”

“Are you sure?”

“While you two were talking he came over and bumped into me and I‘m sure he tried to reach into my pocket.” Then Adam said, “This pocket, right here in my jacket.”

Adam reached into the pocket and . . . pulled out a crumpled dollar bill that hadn’t been there before.

 

In 1798, Fermin Didot, a French printer, created a process by which he could print books without using moveable type. He created a printing plate called a “stereotype.” The printing surface for a stereotype was called a “cliché.”

Walter Lippman used the printing term, stereotype, in 1922 as a metaphor to describe how we often view members of a group as duplicates – all having the same characteristics.

 

Following our train of thought, this is the perfect opportunity for me to become a scold and warn against stereotyping anyone. But experts say we can’t help stereotyping – we put everything into categories. When I tell my wife, “Hmm, this looks like a good place to look for huckleberries,” I have engaged in stereotyping.

But it’s not simply that I can’t help stereotyping people; sometimes I don’t want to avoid it. I have told others that the Japanese are very polite or that the Inuit are a hospitable people. Are their exceptions to my statements? Of course. I’m sure at least one Apache warrior was a coward, and there’s one Nebraskan farmer who isn’t friendly. All the same, I intend to cling to my stereotypes and praise the whole lot of them.

 

When, however, we label everyone in a group with a negative trait, stereotypes become sinister (and even the word “sinister” – which means “left-handed” is a stereotype.) What makes negative stereotypes so dangerous is that they are often motivated by a desire to feel we are above others. Other groups are denigrated, in other words, in order that we may feel superior to them.

If you have a better way to go about this, I’m open to suggestions. But, until I learn to view people without categorizing them, I intend to praise groups for positive traits I observe, and try my best not to assume anyone has a negative trait simply because they belong to a certain group.

Not even panhandlers at train stations.

                                                                   (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

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