Archive for January, 2013

Story of the Day for Thursday January 31, 2013 


Making Someone’s Day

                    “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.” 

                                                    Proverbs 25:11

 Yesterday I received a letter of appreciation from Larry and Rose.  It was so thoughtful and it made my day.  Day 114

At a 1995 meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a study on doctors was revealed.  Researchers gave 44 physicians a “hypothetical” patient’s symptoms and asked each physician to diagnose the illness.  Half of the doctors were given candy and were told it was a token of appreciation for their participation in the study.  The other half were given nothing.

Alice Isen, a Cornell University psychologist, said the doctors receiving the candy did far better in diagnosing the patient than those who received nothing.

Appreciation lifts people up and increases their competence.

For some reason most of us persist in the notion that criticism is far more helpful in improving others.  And don’t get me wrong – criticism is sometimes necessary.  But ask yourself, do you perform better in life when criticized or encouraged?

So why are we reluctant to express our appreciation to others?  I don’t really know why.  But I do know that showing appreciation is a healthy spiritual practice.  When we tell someone we appreciate them, it is a way of saying that we are indebted to them for what they have done for us.

 John Busacker once told a story about Bill, a member of the Board of Regents for a Christian college in Pennsylvania.  Bill was boarding a flight for a flight to Pittsburg when the public address system paged his name.  If he didn’t board immediately he would miss his flight.  But he got out of line to take the message.

Bill’s secretary called him to say the Board of Regents meeting was cancelled and she had re-booked him for a flight home.  When he reached his home town of Atlanta, he called his wife at the airport to pick him up.  There was a long pause and then his wife began sobbing.  “Obviously you haven’t heard the news.  The flight you were supposed to be on crashed and everyone on board has been killed.”

The point is not that the Lord protects us from all harm.  What about the people who died in the crash? Bill was unfazed by the incident.  He knows he’s in God’s hands and trusts in Jesus to bring him to heaven.  But, here’s the point: after the story spread, many people came up to Bill to say how much they appreciate him and how he has touched their lives.  The close call created an awareness of how much we appreciate others.

In The Last Lecture, Randy Pausch says, “Showing gratitude is one of the simplest yet most powerful things humans can do for each other.”

Do you agree?  So, what should we do?  Why don’t we procrastinate?  How about if we put off a hand-written “letter of appreciation” to someone for. . .oh, a half hour.  Get a cup of coffee.  Then think of someone who has touched your life.  You might be surprised at the joy you find in making someone’s day.

(text copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)
(photo courtesy of : http://www.flickr.com/photos/caitlinator/2826079915/, licensed by http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5/)

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Story of the Day for Wednesday January 30, 2013 


The Look on the Davis’s Faces

                               There is nothing better a man can do than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work.  This too, I see, is from the hand of God. 

                                                                        Ecclesiastes 2:24

You have ever seen a picture of the Statue of Liberty taken from above her?  Her coiffure is as beautifully sculpted as the rest of the statue.

“Yeah?” you might ask, “What’s so odd about that?”

What is “so odd about that” is that, when Frederic Auguste Bartholdi, completed the Statue of Liberty in 1886 – the only people capable of seeing that part of the statue would have been someone who attempted to soar above her in a hot air balloon. Bartholdi had no way of predicting the invention of helicopters and air planes so others could observe the quality of his work. Whether others could see his artistry made no difference to the pride he took in his workmanship.

Supposedly, there is a tag on every vehicle which also identifies the day it was built.  A friend told me never to buy a car built on a Monday. “On Mondays,” he explained, “assembly line workers are hungover or tired from the weekend.  They are usually crabby about returning to the drudgery of their job, and they are apathetic about the quality of their work.” I have even talked to auto workers who confessed they would never buy a car from the company they work for because they know how shoddily they are built.

 I’m not mad at auto workers for doing shoddy work; I’m sad that they work at jobs with no purpose other than a paycheck. Work is a tough slog when we can’t take pride in the quality of what we do.

A while back, I had been unemployed, so I was delighted to find minimum-wage work doing landscaping. The work was hard – mostly raking and hauling endless wheelbarrow loads of rock and dirt. The contractor who was building the house was passionate about quality; he wanted everything to be beautiful. He never talked about the money he was making or how long it was until quitting time. But he kept repeating, “I can’t wait to see the look on the Davis’s faces when they see. . .”

Darla's Pictures Summer 2011 392 (2)

His enthusiasm was so infectious that I, too, wanted to create the most beautiful lawn for them that I could. I discovered that the harder I worked, the more pleasure I experienced. I couldn’t wait to see the look on the Davis’s faces when. . .

 My wife doesn’t cook meals for our family; she creates delight for others to enjoy.  She sprinkles little green things on the potatoes – not so much because you can notice the flavor but because it adds color and balance to the plate. She finds great satisfaction in serving others.

God has made us to find meaning in our work. It’s a good place to start learning to do things with excellence, because we are doing it for others. And most importantly, we’re doing it in gratitude and praise to the Lord.

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

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Story of the Day for Tuesday January 29, 2013


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.

 C. 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!”  https://i1.wp.com/images.drillspot.com/pimages/1404/140407_300.jpg

He raced across the street to see the storeowner, 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 storeowner 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)
(photo credit: http://images.drillspot.com/pimages/1404/140407_300.jpg)

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Story of the Day for Monday January 28, 2013


One Missing Crescent Wrench

                Why do we profane the covenant of our fathers by breaking faith with each other? 

                                   Malachi 2:10

When I was young I picked up a couple of hitchhikers.  We were driving down a dark, lonely stretch of road when the guy next to me said he was going to kill me.  (Not to ruin the suspense or anything, but he didn’t.)  They did, however, promise to rob me, and they were faithful to their word.  They went through my glove compartment, found nothing memorable, and finally settled on stealing my crescent wrench lying on the passenger side floor.

  Whenever we break a promise or betray a trust, we are creating more than a single incident of disappointment for someone.  When someone puts their trust in us and we let them down, they now become less likely to trust others.

Have you heard the old story of the Bedouin who was riding his camel through the desert?  He came upon a stranger who said he was stranded, and asked if he might be able to ride with him on the camel.  The kindly Bedouin was happy to help him out.

They had not ridden long together before the stranger threw the Bedouin off the camel.  As the stranger fled on the camel, the Bedouin shouted after him, “I am not so much angry that you stole my camel, as that, from now on, it will be harder for me to help a stranger who is in need.”

As a society, and even more, so as a body of believers, we live in community.  Healthy communities are founded on trust.  Loren Morse wrote to Reader’s Digest about his friend, David, who moved from the big city to rural Maine. David went to a store to rent a rototiller.  He was told the rental fee was not based on how many hours he had the tiller, but on how many hours he actually used it.

David was confused, “How will you know how long I’ve used it?”

Puzzled, the owner said, “You tell me.”

Life is so much more refreshing when we’re are able to trust each other.

 Sadly, communities can break down.  Every lock you buy testifies to the insecurity we live in when we can no longer trust each other.

 We cannot control the climate of the community we live in.  But we can influence it.  Jesus said, after all, that we are the salt of the earth.  You don’t have to trust everyone, but you can become a person others can trust.  And even if we have failed to be trustworthy in the past, God’s mercy provides you a new day, and a new start.

 And, although I never do it with my wife and kids in the car, and though I don’t commend the practice to others, I still pick up hitchhikers.  Helping others get down the road has been well worth the price of one missing crescent wrench.

(text copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)
(photo credit: http://www.ctekdirect.com/images/products/detail/Crescent_wrench.jpg)

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Story of the Day for Friday January 25, 2013 


Settled Into a Higher Purpose

                    And the king said, “Get me a sword . . . and cut the living child in two. Give half to each one of them.”  

                                                  1 Kings 3:24-25

Two mothers bring their case before King Solomon. One woman claims her child was stolen in the night – that the other woman’s son died, so she stole hers. The other woman says it’s a lie. Both women claim to be the mother of the child, and now Solomon must decide who the true mother really is.

Have you ever wished you had greater wisdom?  I’m not talking about the ability to dominate at Trivial Pursuit™. Wisdom is not about knowledge, but the ability to see. It’s not about the quantity of our intelligence but the quality of our decisions.

We left King Solomon a moment ago with a dilemma: two women claiming to be the mother of a child. To which woman should he award the child?

While we give Solomon a moment to think, let’s grow in wisdom by playing a game. If you can solve Solomon’s dilemma in one hour, I’ll give you five bucks. If you can figure out how Solomon can know the real mother within ten minutes, I’ll give you all of my daughter’s pets. And, if you solve this case within one minute, I’ll stage a coup d’etat and install you as the dictator of a Third World country. (If, however, you’ve already been taught this story in Sunday school, you’re disqualified from the competition, and, if you wish to become a despot, I must leave you to your own devices.)

Since I’m dangling some pretty handsome rewards in front of you, you might as well set your watch and start thinking before you read further.  Just remember: your reward is based on how quickly you solve the riddle.  

Researchers from MIT, the University of Chicago, and Carnegie Mellon did a study in which they gave rewards for the speed with which participants could perform various tasks. If the tasks involved simple mechanical skill, rewards increased the speed with which the tasks were completed. But – and here is the surprise – when the task involved creative thinking, the higher the reward offered, the longer it took the participants to find the correct solution.

Wisdom is like that: you can’t increase it by trying harder. It doesn’t come through the desire for reward. Wisdom thrives when we’re relaxed and settled into a higher purpose than personal benefit – like when we’re living for the glory of God.

Solomon, as you may know, solved his dilemma by requesting a sword and offering to slice the child in two – giving half to each woman. The woman who protested and pleaded that the child be given to the other claimant was deemed the true mother.

If you figured out the solution to Solomon’s problem, I hope you won my daughter’s pets. Inciting an insurrection in a Third World country is dicey . . . and offering to do so wasn’t very wise of me.

(text copyright 2011 by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)
(photo credit:http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-6-_LT_8tYlU/TrjQSbFLqCI/AAAAAAAAKBc/nBIXE_Kn_Uw/s320/the-judgment-of-solomon-1519.jpg)

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Story of the Day for Thursday January 24, 2013


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.

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.

(text copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)
(photo credit:https://encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcTb7JJZZJ8D19Qo4rlEy_yEtBOF2yXwnq0of_1e1QbIFr8TsY4_)

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Story of the Day for Tuesday January 22, 2013 


In the Long Run


                The servants asked their master, “Do you want us to go and pull the weeds up?”  

              “No,” he said. 

Matthew 13:28-29


Sometimes, the best way to make something better is to begin by making it worse.

All airports have a problem with birds, but the bird problem is especially acute at the John F. Kennedy International Airport, which sits beside the 10,000 acre Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge.

When you’re flying at 150 miles per hour and hit a twelve pound bird, it’s the equivalent force of a thousand pound weight falling from ten feet. Since 1988, over 200 air passengers have been killed when their plane was struck by birds. Bird strikes cause over $600 million in damages to U.S. airlines annually.

Some airports use loud noises, but the birds eventually become habituated to the sounds, and ignore them.

Kennedy Airport, however, deals with the problem in an interesting way. They purchase birds and release them at the airport.

It doesn’t make much sense to decrease the bird population by adding to it – or, at least it makes no sense until you realize the birds they are introducing to the airport are falcons.

Birds can become habituated to the loud noises some airports use to scare off birds, but birds never become habituated to peregrine falcons. They are the fastest animal in the world and can dive at speeds in excess of 200 miles per hour.

When trained falconers release their birds, all birds, from geese to gulls, clear the area.

When a farmer discovered an enemy had sown weeds in his wheat field, his loyal workers immediately offered to weed them out. But, in doing so, they would’ve uprooted much of the wheat in the process.

The best solution was to, temporarily, let the problem become worse by letting the weeds grow. Only later could the weeds and wheat be easily identified and safely separated.

Some parents have the heartbreaking decision of demanding their rebellious child move out of the house. At the moment, such a decision only seems to deepen the rift in the relationship. But sometimes the situation must become worse in order to get better.

The best way to ease the pain from a dislocated shoulder is to, momentarily, increase the pain by resetting it.

The Lord doesn’t want us to gauge our decisions by their immediate impact, but by the effect they will have in the long run.

(text copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)
(photo by Hazel Spray, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5/)

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Story of the Day for Monday January 21, 2013 


The Gospel With Strings Attached

gemma lark, Oh Really Gallery

Why do you . . . put yokes on the necks of the disciples which neither our forefathers nor we have been able to bear?                   Acts 15:10

In the late 1800s, missionaries evangelized the Yahgans to extinction.

The Yahgans lived in Tierra Del Fuego, an archipelago on the southern tip of South America.  In the 1860s, Christian missionaries from England sailed to South America to bring the gospel to these primitive natives.

The Yahgans had developed an unbelievable tolerance for the cold, harsh climate.  The women would dive into the frigid waters to find shellfish.  They would grease their bodies to repel water.  Except for a bikini-like cloth around their bottom, they were, well, like, naked.

Some of the missionaries objected to this “immorality” and insisted they wear clothes.  They prevailed. But their clothes, which were perpetually wet in the damp climate, produced outbreaks of pneumonia and tuberculosis.  This, along with the introduction of European diseases, reduced the Yahgan tribe to extinction.

In the U.S., well-meaning Christians have tried to force the citizenry to behave like Christians.  “Blue Laws” were once common, in which civil laws were passed forbidding stores or businesses to open on Sunday.

Where did we get the notion that we could make the world more Christian by ramming our religion down their throats?  The Christian faith is about a relationship of love with God.  Love never emerges from coercion.  The only result of force is bitterness and resentment. How many believers can you name who were bludgeoned into the faith by being forced to behave like Christians?

Early in the life of the Church, the disciples faced a dilemma.  People who weren’t Jewish began to believe in Jesus.  Should they insist these Gentiles get circumcised and follow other Jewish practices?

Peter became a hero.  He stood up and reminded everyone that both we and they are saved by grace of the Lord Jesus.  Forcing them to bear the burdens of Jewish customs and laws was not going to bring them closer to the Lord.

The Church chose wisely and grace prevailed.  And that’s why Gentile Christians have never gone extinct.

(text copyright 2013 by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre )
(photo by Newtown Graffiti on Flickr; http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en)

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Story of the Day for Friday January 18, 2013 




A Kick In the Pants

                 Those who suffer according to the will of God should entrust their lives to their faithful Creator and continue to do good. 

                                                             1 Peter  4:19

The most famous person to die in World War I was not a solider.  She was an English nurse by the name of Edith Cavell (sounds like “gravel”).

When the German forces overran Belgium, Edith left England and traveled to Belgium to work for the Red Cross.   The Berkendael Institute was converted into a hospital to treat wounded soldiers of all nationalities.

Edith Cavell, however, did more than treat the wounded; she also helped soldiers – both British and German – to escape to neutral Holland.

After guiding 200 Allied soldiers to safety, she was caught and arrested on August 3, 1915.  Cavell was thrown in prison for ten weeks.

The German military, fearful that higher authorities might grant her clemency, made the quick decision to deliver the death sentence.  Edith’s pastor, the Reverend Stirling Gahan, an Anglican chaplain was allowed to see her the night before her execution.  Cavell received Holy Communion and calmly told him, “I must have no hatred or bitterness toward anyone.”  Then they softly sang “Abide with Me.”

The next day she faced the firing squad.

 The German military acted quickly to execute this troublemaker before the German high command had the opportunity to release her.   A shrewd move, it would seem.

But it was a major miscalculation.  News of the execution spread swiftly.  The United States, who had not yet entered the war, was outraged, and sentiment shifted to the Allied cause. In Great Britain,  morale soared.  Edith was extolled in countless newspaper articles, pamphlets, posters, and books. As men learned of this woman’s bravery, recruitment doubled in Great Britain.

In the end, Edith’s execution turned into an enormous blunder for the German cause.

Edith Cavell was fully aware of the danger of helping wounded soldiers to escape.  Her final words to a Lutheran prison chaplain, Paul Le Seur were to reassure her loved ones that her soul was safe.

We easily forget that, if we have nothing worth dying for, we have nothing worth living for.  When we commit our lives to God’s will, let’s understand that it often involves suffering.

But there are far worse things than suffering.  One of them is spending your life in a frantic attempt to avoid suffering. When we do that, life has no purpose other than the puny goal of seeking to engineer our own personal comfort.

Go for it.  Find what God has called you to do.  What a kick in the pants it is to charge into life to do good, and leave the results to the faithful Creator.

(text copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)
(photo by Scott Feldstein  http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5/)

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Story of the Day for Thursday January 17, 2013 


A Costly Victory

                    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., Pyrrhus 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.

Pyrrhus of Epirus

Pyrrhus of Epirus

Even though Pyrrhus 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 Pyrrhus on his victories, the king replied that one more such victory would utterly destroy him.

In a Pyrrhic 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.

(text copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)
(graphic credit: http://community.imaginefx.com/fxpose/johnny_shumates_portfolio/picture105314.aspx)

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