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Archive for December, 2012


Story of the Day for Monday December 31, 2012 

 

Close Every Gate Through Which You Pass

              “I will forgive their iniquity and will remember their sins no more.” 

                                                  Jeremiah 31:34

A London journalist had the special opportunity to go for a walk with the former prime minister of Great Britain, Mr. David Lloyd George.  As they walked through fields where cattle were grazing, the journalist became so eager to record every word of Mr. Lloyd George that he left a gate open.  When Mr. Lloyd George noticed it, he walked back and closed the gate.

As they continued their walk, Mr. Lloyd George reminisced about an old doctor who passed away.  “When he lay dying,” he said, “he called his sons and daughters to his bedside and urged them, as they went through life, to close every gate through which they passed.”  Mr. Lloyd George told the journalist that he benefited greatly from that advice.

Just as the cattle in the field had no business straying through the gate into another field, so there are things in our past which should not wander with us into the next field.  We need to shut the gate behind us.

We have all gone through many painful times.  But we can continue to carry the guilt, the regret, the trauma, and the loss with us.  The past, however, is gone, and we need to move on.

Are you closing the gates behind you?  If not, the Lord wants to speak to you.  Do you know what the Almighty God sees when he looks upon your past?  Nothing.  He erased it.  “I will remember their sins no more.”

God doesn’t care where you’ve been; he cares about where you are now, and where you’re going.

Shutting the gate behind us means we can enter each field and make a new start.  That’s what “Easy Eddie” Eddie did.  He was a lawyer who worked for Al Capone.  Through this, and other mob activities, he became a wealthy man.

But “Easy Eddie” had a son, “Butch,” who wanted to enroll in the Naval Academy.  It was time to come clean for the sake of his son.  “Easy Eddie” informed to Frank Wilson, a federal investigator, and helped send Capone to Alcatraz.  “Easy Eddie” was later gunned down in west Chicago.

His son, Butch, became a flyboy and the first aviator to be awarded the Medal of Honor.

You remember Butch O’Hare because the busiest airport in America has been named after him.  But you should also remember that he became what he did because his dad decided to close the gate behind him, and start a new day.

                                                             (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre) 
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Story of the Day for Saturday December 29, 2012 

 

Bear That Name as a Promise

                 “You will no longer be called Abram. Your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations.” 

                                                                                               Genesis 17:5

When our oldest daughter, Nikki, was 2 ½ years old, we had another baby girl. We asked Nikki what we should name her sister. Without hesitation, she said, “Schlimpsy.”  Instead of giving this proposal the attention it deserved, we asked if she had any other suggestions.

“Ozmoe.”

We quickly realized that children were not put on this earth with the noble assignment of naming their siblings.

We named her Erika, by the way – although Ozmoe was starting to grow on me.

How do parents decide on the names to give their children?  We named some of our kids because we liked the sound of the name. We named others because they were family names.

In the Middle Ages, people often named their children after a saint. When the Puritans came to America, they banned parents from naming their children after saints, so parents started naming all their kids after people in the Bible.

But a splinter group of Puritans concluded that using biblical names was blasphemous. So they turned their children’s names into billboards. They saddled their offspring with names like: “Flee Fornication,” “Sorry-for-Sin,” and “If-Christ-had-not-died-for-thee-thou-hadst-been-damned.”

Abraham didn’t grow up with the name by which we know him. He lived for 99 years with the embarrassment of his real name, Abram, which means, “exalted father.” And you can imagine his awkwardness in meeting new people.

“Pleased to meet you. My name is Hamor. And you are . . .?  Abram! Well, you must have an extraordinary son to be named “Exalted Father.”

“Well, uh, actually,” Abram would mumble, “I don’t really have any . . . children.”

God promised Abram that he would have a son. After a century of humiliation he was, at last, a proud, “exalted father!”

But, Abram had no sooner overcome the embarrassment of his name, when the Lord renamed him Abraham, which means, “Father of a Multitude.”

Oh, great.

The Lord didn’t name Abraham to describe who he was, but who he would become.

We are not called “Christians” because of the remarkable way in which we imitate the life of Christ. We bear that name as a promise – that, some day, we shall be transformed. And created, by the Lord’s mercy, to be like him.

(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

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Story of the Day for Friday December 28, 2012

Hands that Touch

 

 

               A leper came to Jesus, and kneeling, he begged him and said, “If you want to, you can make me clean.” Moved with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand, touched him and said, “I want to. Be clean.” 

                                                                           Mark 1:40-41

 

 

In the 1940s, Dr. Rene Spitz examined institutionalized children. In a foundling home, abandoned children were cared for by nurses. They were raised in a sanitary environment, and properly fed, diapered, and given medical attention.

At the same time, Dr. Spitz studied children raised by mothers in prison. The conditions were similar to the foundling home, with one major difference: the mothers in prison were allowed to see their children daily, and they lavished affection on them – regularly hugging and touching them.

The babies raised in prison did great. But the babies in the foundling home, deprived only of touch and affection, suffered devastating symptoms. By two years, a third of them died. Those who survived to three years could not walk or talk.

Touch is the first sense that develops in the womb, and the last to leave in old age.

 

We can hardly imagine the horror of living as a leper. In Bible times, if you were diagnosed with leprosy, a contagious skin disease, you were cut off from society. You were no longer able to return home. You couldn’t kiss your wife or husband, or hug your children. You could no longer dance at weddings, nor cling to loved ones at funerals.

Instead, you were forced to live in a deserted area. You had to have bedraggled hair and wear ragged clothes. If anyone came near you, you had to shoo them away by yelling, “Unclean! Unclean!”

Anyone who touched you was immediately declared unclean.

 

Once, a leper disobeyed the rules. Rather than shooshing Jesus away, this one leper ran up to Jesus and knelt before him, issuing a desperate plea that sounded more like a challenge: “If you want to, you can make me clean.” Others who hoped for a miracle from Jesus questioned his power: “If you’re able to . . .” This leper doesn’t doubt Jesus’ power; he questions his compassion.

Jesus’ response to the leper still floors me. He did the unthinkable. Moved with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched him!  He assured him he wanted to cleanse him, and he did.

 

Jesus spoke a life-giving message to the world. But he also wrapped his message in hugs for the children and a hand on the leper’s shoulder.

I used to visit people in nursing homes, and would read the Bible and pray with them. I still do those things. But God is showing me that I not only have a mouth, but hands that touch, and arms that hug.

(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

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Story of the Day for Thursday December 27, 2012 

His Face Betrayed His Secret

 

                 Those who look to the Lord are radiant; their faces will never be covered with shame.

                                                                                      Psalm 34:5

 

On February 4, 1863, six men left the mining camp of Bannock (later renamed “Bannack” after a clerical error in Washington D.C.).  These prospectors went looking for gold by the Yellowstone River, but, by intruding on Indian land, they were captured by Crow warriors and held captive in a large Indian camp.

They escaped, but were pursued relentlessly by the Crow. The prospectors were hungry and frequently lost.

On May 26, they were camped at a little lake in the Gravelly Mountain range. Two of the men, Bill Fairweather and Barney Hughes, climbed to a nearby summit which they named “Old Baldy.”

It was a good day. Their overview of the area gave them confidence they were no longer pursued by Indians. They identified a landmark which told them they were only four days from Bannock. They had the leisure to shoot elk and bighorn sheep to replenish their nearly exhausted food supplies. They had time to rest their horses.

But best of all, at a little creek, they discovered gold. Lots of it.

 

They christened the stream, Alder Creek, and headed into town. They all agreed not to breathe a word about their discovery to a soul. They would go to Bannock to resupply and then return to Alder Creek to continue panning.

But, after they restocked their supplies and headed back to their gold find, they were shocked to discover half the town of Bannock following them.

Alright, who squealed?

No one. The miners from town said their beaming faces gave them away.

 

In his psalm, David says that those who look to the Lord are radiant.

The moon emits no light of its own. It shines because it reflects the light it receives from the sun. When our hearts are exposed to the blazing brilliance of God’s love, we simply reflect it.

Sour-faced Christians, on the other hand, advertise a God who prefers to scowl.

 

When we talk about reflecting the joy of the Lord by our radiant faces, however, we are walking into a dangerous place. Simply put: it encourages hypocrisy. Have you ever seen believers who wear phony, manufactured happiness? Their plastered smiles don’t look like a reflection of God’s grace. They look artificial – as if they feel a need to impress others with their glowing “radiance.”

Instead, they look kind of creepy.

 

Jesus radiated light. He was the light of the world. He didn’t have to put on an act. Sometimes he was sad and wept; sometimes he was angry. But I don’t think he had to tell you he lived in harmony with the Father. His face betrayed his secret.

(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

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Story of the Day for Monday December 24, 2012

Treat Him as You Wish

 

                    He who was from the beginning, we have heard. We have seen him with our eyes. We have looked at him and touched him.

                                                                                                              1 John 1:1

 

He’s one of the most well-known guys you’ve never heard of. His title (who could make this up?) is: The Right Honourable Sir Frederick Arthur Stanley, Baron Stanley of Preston, in the County of Lancaster, in the Peerage of Great Britain, Knight Grand Cross of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath.  But hockey fans know him well; in all of sports, Lord Stanley’s Cup is the most coveted of all trophies.

When a team wins a championship, players hoist the trophy above their shoulders and their fans go wild. And then what? Then they put the trophy in a glass case where you can see it, but can’t touch it. The Stanley Cup is different. When a hockey team wins the Stanley Cup, each player is allowed to take it home with them for a day or two, and his name is engraved on it.

Many players take the Stanley Cup to a gymnasium where adoring crowds stand in line to have their photo taken of them touching the Cup. Others travel with the Cup. It has made the journey to Europe and to igloos among the Eskimos. The Stanley Cup has been kissed and adored. But it has also been neglected and abused.

In 1903, Ottawa won the Cup and had their team photograph taken in the studio of Jimmy Rice. It wasn’t until the next season that someone realized the Cup was missing. Since the player’s last remembered seeing it at the Rice studio, they asked Jimmy Rice about it. Rice hadn’t seen it either. But he asked the cleaning lady if she had.

“Oh, is that what it is.” She then explained that she took it home, filled it with potting soil, and was using it to grow geraniums.

Another year, Ottawa won the Stanley Cup again. Some team members were drunk enough that trying to punt the Cup across the frozen Rideau Canal seemed like a good idea. Someone found it the next day lying in the middle of the ice.

Montreal players threw the Stanley Cup in the trunk of a car and drove to a party. When they had a flat tire, they pulled the Cup out of the trunk, and set it by the side of the road. Only after they got to the party did they realize they had left the Stanley Cup lying by the side of the road.

The Stanley Cup isn’t a trophy that collects dust in a glass case. It is revered, but it has also been lost, stolen, dented, and abused.

 

To many, God is remote and unapproachable – like a trophy removed from the people by a glass case. But the story of the Bible is about the God who chose to come to earth. When he was a boy, his parents lost him for a few days. The crowds sometimes mobbed him in breathless excitement, but also grabbed him to throw him off a cliff. Some spit in his face and rained blows to his head; another knelt to wash his dusty feet with her tears and kisses.

You can curse Jesus, ignore him or bow before him in worship. The only thing you can’t do is claim that God is remote. He let the world treat him as they wished.

(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

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Story of the Day for Thursday December 20, 2012 

The Biblical View of Sledding

 

 

                  So David took the spear and water jug from next to Saul’s head, and they left. 

                                                                                1 Samuel 26:12

 

When Tim and Irene Martin invited our church youth group to a sledding party, we thought it would be fun. But we soon learned the important distinction between fun and crazy.

The Martins lived at Star Meadows, high up in the mountains of Montana, and after we parked our cars along the roadside, our adventure began by sledding uphill.

Tim tied a heavy rope to the back of his four-wheel drive. We would sit on our sleds, hang onto the rope, and he would gun his rig – taking us on a wild ride up his long driveway. As we rounded a bend, the centrifugal force threw Lauren off her sled and I ran over her, but we found her still breathing, so the party was successful so far.

Once we got to the top things got interesting. Tim expected us to go sledding down the mountain back to the road. We pointed out to him that there were a lot of big trees on his very steep mountainside, but he failed to comprehend the significance of this.

While we tried to think of a Bible verse that talked about prudence, Tim’s dad came out of the house. He was a retired medical doctor, so everyone still called him Doc.

“Hey, Doc,” one of the kids said, “you come out to watch us?”

Doc looked hurt. “No,” he said, “I came to go sledding!”

I hasten to point out that Doc Martin was 83 years old at the time, so we laughed at his joke. But, it turned out that Doc wasn’t joking. He sat on his sled and we listened to him whooping it up as he disappeared down the mountain.

 

When Saul was king of Israel, he was intent on killing the young warrior, David. When men reported David’s whereabouts to Saul, the king gathered 3000 chosen men to pursue him.

David’s scouts reported that Saul was after him, so he went out to investigate and saw where Saul was camped for the night.

Somehow, David got it into his head that he wanted to sneak into Saul’s camp and asked which of his leaders wanted to join him. Abishai, who couldn’t think of a Bible verse about prudence, agreed to join him.

That night, David and Abishai snuck past 3000 of Saul’s best soldiers, and stole Saul’s spear and water jug that was lying beside the king’s head.

 

You can’t deny that David and Abishai were daring, but what’s the point? Why attempt something so foolhardy? It’s not as if David had to do this.

David did this because he was David. He didn’t have an on\off switch to regulate his courage.

 

Careening down a mountainside on a sled doesn’t sound like an overly biblical thing to do. But it’s practice – practice for the day when the Lord will call on us to suppress our fears to do something valiant in his name. And, since only Luke broke a bone, it wasn’t nearly as bad as we originally thought it would be.

No one has ever accused the Martin family of being sane. But, no matter – they have taught us the glory of stealing spears and water jugs.

And the importance of memorizing Bible verses about prudence.

(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

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Story of the Day for Wed. December 19, 2012 

Hang in There, Be Brave, and Keep Moving

 

                       . . . Let us run with perseverance the race marked out before us. 

                                                                           Hebrews 12:1

 

The marathon is the most grueling race in the Olympics.  But there is a race in Australia called the toughest race in the world.  The Westfield Sydney to Melbourne Ultra Marathon is a race of 544 miles. If it helps, just think of it as more than twenty back-to-back marathons.

 

In 1983, the world’s toughest athletes gathered for the race.  Promoter John Toleman put up $10,000 for the winner. Toleman’s friend, George Perdon was the world’s best long-distance runner, and Toleman wanted to recognize his amazing ability.

The start of the race that year will be remembered for the amusement it provided. Of all things, a 61-year-old farmer, Cliff Young, registered for the race and put on bib number 64.  Cliff looked especially comical wearing his farm overalls, with big galoshes over his work boots (he thought it might start raining).

The starting gun went off, and 150 runners exploded from the starting line. Without minutes, Cliff was left behind. To say he “runs” may be a stretch – it’s more of a loping shuffle.

 

Among the world’s best runners, a marathon is over in a couple hours.  But these world-class ultra-marathon runners race an unbelievable 18 hours a day. And, they continue this punishing pace for a week.

Runners of this caliber are sponsored by the top athletic companies.  They have coaches, trainers, and a support crew to provide food and medical care along the course.

And then we have old Cliff Young, who had no coach and whose “support crew” was his 81-year-old mother.

 

Okay, so Cliff Young is a shuffling old guy among the world’s best runners.  Still, don’t you admire the guy fore even entering a race like this?

Actually, you can admire him for more than starting the race.  After 18 hours, when the other racers got a mere six hours of sleep before hitting the course again, Cliff just kept on running.  He got two hours of sleep.  Later, he would run around the clock.

By running through the night, Cliff not only caught up to the frontrunners, he won the race! He finished in 5 days, 15 hours, and 4 minutes . . . and trimmed almost two days off the previous record.

Only five other runners finished the race.  Young took the $10,000 prize money (intended for George Perdon, who finished second) and gave each of the other finishers $2000 – keeping none for himself.

 

Your life is like a long-distance race.  The Lord has a course marked out for you.  But, he’s not looking for speed.  Instead, he encourages you to run with perseverance.  Just hang in there, be brave, and keep moving.

(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

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