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Archive for June, 2012


Story of the Day for Saturday June 30, 2012

Reclassify him as a Dim Bulb

 

                             For in the way you judge others, you will be judged.

                                                                  Matthew 7:2

 

My friend Lee Ressler once told me a humorous story:

Last fall, Lee had ordered some fishing flies for himself and his friend, whom we’ll call Jim. When the order came in, Lee invited Jim over to pick them up.  Jim knocked on the door, but Lee was outside around the side of the house. He shouted to Jim to go in, while Lee went inside from a side door.

Jim stood in the entryway — accompanied by a large, shaggy dog. Lee offered Jim a chair, while he plopped down on his sofa. While he got out the flies, the dog laid on the floor at Jim’s feet.

Lee was a little peeved. Not only was the dog stinky, but he felt guests should at least ask permission before bringing their dogs inside someone else’s house.

As the men continued to talk about fishing flies, the dog jumped up on the sofa next to Lee and he could no longer control his annoyance. He commanded the dog to get off.

His friend never apologized nor reprimanded his dog for jumping on the furniture.

Lee was inwardly fuming and offered his friend some lemonade so he could stalk into the kitchen to regain his composure. The nerve!  But as he got up, the dog trotted into the kitchen with him. As soon as Lee opened the door, the dog poked his nose into the fridge.

That did it!

“This dog is hungry!” Lee hotly told his friend. “If you want to keep a pet, you’ve got to take care of ’em.”

Jim was puzzled. “My dog? I’ve never seen this dog before. I thought he belonged to you!”

 

After hearing the story of Lee and Jim’s silent criticism of each other, I knew this would be a perfect story about judging others falsely, and asked Lee if he could scribble down some notes on the incident for me.

A few days later he handed me his notes. I thanked him for his trouble, and as we sat down, I scanned his notes.

“This is great,” I told Lee, “but, in order to make the story more vivid, I could use a few details. What kind of dog was it?”

“I don’t know.”

Oh well. Probably a mutt.

“What color’s the sofa?”

“Don’t know.”

“How could anyone not know the color of his own sofa?” I thought to myself.

“Well, what’s your friend’s name?”

“I don’t know, but I think I could find out.”

Lee always seemed like such an intelligent guy, but I was just beginning to reclassify him as a dim bulb, when he clarified, “This incident didn’t happen to me; it happened to this guy I know who lives west of town.”

 

Now I know why Jesus came to earth to cover us in grace; we’re hopeless without it. But, before I tell you stories about not judging others, maybe I’ll work on it a little more myself.

(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

 

 

 

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Story of the Day for Friday June 29, 2012

Truth Should Never Go For Walks Alone

                    . . . You desire truth in the inner being; deep in the heart you teach me wisdom.

                                 Psalm 51:6

Just because something’s true doesn’t mean it’s good.  For example, you can’t argue with the truthfulness of this statement: “Build a man a fire and you’ll keep him warm for a day; set a man on fire and you’ll keep him warm the rest of his life.”

When I was in college, the poster over my dorm room desk showed a photo of a bloated, warty toad. Below the photo was the maxim:

EAT A LIVE TOAD FIRST THING IN THE MORNING

AND NOTHING WORSE WILL HAPPEN TO YOU FOR THE REST OF THE DAY

The poster amused me because, while it may be true, it’s not advice I intended to follow. Truth should never go for walks alone; it should always be accompanied by wisdom, fairness, common sense, or love.

The University of Houston was in a tight basketball game against UAB when the Houston coach, Tom Penders, suffered a heart attack. He fell to his knees, then collapsed face down on the court.

League rules state that coaches and players on the sideline may not step across the foul line while the ball is in play. However, because part of Penders body slumped across the foul line, officials called him for a technical foul.

Penders suffered from cardiomyopathy, a congenital heart condition, and the medical staff put him on oxygen and carried him off the court on a stretcher. The official originally assumed that Penders was reacting to his call. But when it became obvious that Penders was seriously ill, the three-man officiating crew refused to reverse the call.

The referees were simply following the rules. The rule book never said it was acceptable to cross the foul line if you collapsed with a heart attack. Yet, while the referee adhered to “The Truth,” the conference commissioners, coordinator of officials, and the general public, felt differently. Truth should’ve teamed up with common sense, and the technical foul should’ve been reversed.

The incredible love of Jesus brings us a truth that we can twist to our own harm. Is it true that someone could become a drug lord or engage in insider trader on the stock market and still find forgiveness? Yes! It’s true. We can find forgiveness from any sin.

Since it’s true that all sins can be forgiven, does that mean it’s okay to sin? Utilizing truth in this way is about as brilliant as eating a live toad first thing in the morning.

When King David prayed his famous prayer of confession in Psalm 51, he didn’t just speak of learning what is true; he longed for the deepest kind of truth: the truth that knows God’s heart.

                  (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre) 

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Story of the Day for Wednesday June 27, 2012 

 Kissing a Clenched Fist

                  They got into such a heated argument that they parted company.

                                              Acts 15:39

 Before Paul became a believer, he despised the church. He breathed out murderous threats against the church and tried to arrest anyone who listened to Christian radio stations. Jesus finally turned Paul’s life around, but the church leaders were too afraid of him to let him into the fellowship. Barnabas, bless his heart, took Paul to meet the leaders of the church and convinced them his conversion was genuine.

Paul befriended Barnabas and the two stood by each other’s side in a great theological debate about how to handle pagans who came to the faith. On a missionary trip, the two shared their adventures together.

Yet, despite their close friendship and shared adventures, Paul and Barnabas got into a squabble about whether to take Mark along on their next trip. The argument grew so heated that Paul and Barnabas parted ways.

We’re all a bit daffy about arguments. If we estimated how often the rest of the world is in the right when they argue, we’d say, “Oh, about half the time.” But, if we ask ourselves how often we’re in the right when we get in an argument, we would respond, “All the time!” All of us think this way, but if you do the math, it doesn’t add up.

Arguments often flare up over trivial differences. If Paul and Barnabas would have decided to take a nap first or share a candy bar, I doubt they would have even gotten into the scuffle they did. They could’ve worked it out.

James Kay, in his book, Seasons of Grace, described an incident in Damascus, Syria, where a bicyclist rode down a market street, balancing a crate of oranges on his handlebars. A man, bent over with a heavy load, walked in his way and the two collided. Oranges went rolling down the street and the two got into a quarrel over who was at fault. A crowd gathered as the cursing and clenched fists indicated a fight was about to erupt.

Then a little man walked into the fray, took the clenched fist of the bicyclist in his hands and kissed it. The two men relaxed and the crowd murmured their approval. Instead of assigning blame everyone gathered the oranges and put them back in the crate, as the little man slipped into the crowd.

Like the rest of us, even the apostle Paul could slip up. But all was not lost because he knew where he wanted to go. He knew that we should avoid quarreling, but when we do, we must learn to reconcile.

As an old man, he advised Timothy, “Avoid foolish and stupid disputes because you know they cause quarrels. And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel.”

And, he also asked Timothy to bring Mark along on his next visit, because “he is a good help in my ministry.”

(copyright by climbinghhigher.org and by Marty Kaarre) 

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Story of the Day for Tuesday June 26, 2012

We Stand on Cars and Freeze

                                      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.”

(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

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Story of the Day for Monday June 24, 2012

Lessening Our Height

                 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by the quality of his behavior – in actions that demonstrate wisdom’s humility. 

                                                                  James 3:13

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.

He was wrong.

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.

(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

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Story of the Day for Friday June 22, 2012

Live Between Steps

 

                  You have swept them away in the sleep of death; they are like new grass that springs up in the morning – though in the morning it springs up fresh, by evening it’s dry and withered.

                                                                             Psalm 90:5-6

 

A study revealed that most people don’t see themselves as “living” so much as waiting to live. They’re waiting until graduation, waiting until they get married. They’re waiting until they get the big promotion, waiting until they can retire. And then, they imagine, they can really start living. . . until they must wait in a nursing home to die.

 

This psalm helps us see the brevity of our life in this world. It speaks of our lives as grass – which springs up in the morning, and is dry and withered by evening.

Is this a depressing thought? Well, it shouldn’t be. Instead, it should remind us that we don’t have a moment to waste living without the compassion of God. “Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, so that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.”

When we have learned to number our days, we will have learned to fill each day with meaning because it is filled with the unfailing love of God.

 

One December, a university professor was invited to speak at a military base. A soldier met the professor at the airport.

As they walked down the concourse to the baggage claim, the soldier kept meandering off: once to help an elderly woman with her suitcase, then to lift two toddlers up so they could see Santa Claus, and once again to help a person with directions.

“Where did you learn that?” the professor asked.

“What?”

“Where did you learn to live like that?”

“Oh,” the soldier said, “during the war, I guess.” He told the professor that his duty in Vietnam was to clear minefields. It was a dangerous job, and he watched as, one after another, his buddies were blown up by exploding mines.

He never knew whether his next step would be his last. “I learned,” he said, “to live between steps.”

 

Bob Franke wrote a song, “Thanksgiving Eve,” which echoes the meaning of Psalm 90. The chorus is:

 

What can you do with your days but work and hope 

Let your dreams bind your work to your play 

What can you do with each moment of your life 

But love til you’ve loved it away 

Love til you’ve loved it away. 

(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

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Story of the Day for Thursday June 21, 2012

Knowing Which Way to Run

                   Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, with hearts cleansed from a guilty conscience. 

                                                                                   Hebrews 10:22

“Oh, look at that horse! I want it.”

We were driving in the Black Hills a few miles from Mount Rushmore and my daughter, Elly, spotted a ranch that hosted trail rides.

“Which one?” I asked.

“The pinto. Can we buy it?”

“No, we can’t afford to buy another horse. We’re going to have to steal it.”

“How?”

“Easy,” I told her. “We slip into the stable around midnight when no one’s around.”

“But how will we get her home?”

“We’ll tie her halter to the back of our van and she can trot behind us back to Montana.”

When we reached Mount Rushmore I walked into the visitor center to ask if there were any open campgrounds in the area. The man behind the counter said, “Yes, just a few miles west of here is a campground I think you’ll like. It’s called Horsethief Lake.”

Later on our trip, we spent a night in Medora in the Theodore Roosevelt National Park. I started reading an account Roosevelt wrote in 1886 about chasing thieves who stole his boat. The men they chased, Roosevelt wrote, were also suspected of the “worst of frontier crimes, horse-stealing.”

Even though we were only joking about stealing a horse, reminders of our imaginary crime began popping up everywhere. If this happens in an innocuous situation, how much more ominous is it when we have a guilty conscience?

Guilt is a good emotion — just as pain is a good sensation. Neither are pleasant, of course. But if you accidentally lay your hand on a hot stove, pain screams “Hey! That’s not such a good idea!” Pain watches over you to protect you from serious damage.

In the same way, guilt sets off alarms to warn us when our soul is in danger.

My natural impulse when I have a guilty conscience, however, is to run in the wrong direction. When I do wrong, I know God disapproves. So, instead of moving away from the guilt, I move away from God.

But when we’ve messed up, the Bible urges us to draw closer to God. We can’t erase our guilt, but our heavenly Father can. If we see him carrying a bucket, it’s not because he intends to slap us on the side of the head with it. The bucket’s full of water because he intends to wash us clean. He wants to forgive our sin and remove the guilt.

The secret to being a would-be horse thief is knowing which way to run.

                                                        (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre) 
 

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