Archive for March, 2013

Story of the Day for Good Friday 2013 


“It Ain’t Over ’til Its Over”

                  Now the Philistines rulers assembled to offer a great sacrifice to Dagon their god, and to celebrate, for they said, “Our God has given Samson our enemy into our hands.” 

                                                  Judges 16:23

Bobby Cruickshank was a likeable Scot – one of the most popular golfers on the PGA circuit.  But he could never win a national championship. In 1923 he almost won the U.S. Open, but came in second – as he did again in 1932. But Cruickshank persevered.

In 1934, with only eight holes to play in the U.S. Open, Cruickshank held the lead by two strokes. As Bobby made his approach shot to the green, he watched in horror as his the ball fell short into the Baffling Brook which guarded the green.

But the ball, apparently, hit a rock in the stream. It bounced out of the water, and rolled on the green, ten feet from the pin.

A miracle! As the crowd broke in wild cheers, Bobby tossed his club into the air, tipped his hat to the spectators, and celebrated his good fortune. At last, the first tournament win of his life was only moments away.

 Relations were strained between Samson and the Philistines – to put it mildly.

When they finally caught him, they gouged out his eyes, bound him with brass shackles and paraded him down to Gaza like a circus curiosity.

Samson’s downfall called for a party. The Philistines sacrificed to their god, and, in a celebratory mood, called for Samson to be led out of prison to entertain them. Few things are more satisfying than gloating over a fallen enemy.

But we never know when one chapter in life has ended and the next has begun, and, for this reason alone, it’s not a good idea to be presumptive.

 Samson lost his power when they shaved his head. But, the Bible adds the little detail that, during his time in prison, his hair had begun to grow.

The Philistines were in high spirits as they paraded their fallen prisoner before the public. Three thousand people stood on the roof of the temple of Dagon as Samson stood between the two main pillars.

Samson’s final prayer was that his strength might be renewed one last time.

We left Bobby Cruickshank on the eleventh hole with the “miracle shot” and the ecstatic crowds, and his pitching wedge thrown to the heavens in celebration.

Whatever personal opinions you may hold about gravity, you have to admit it isn’t whimsical.  Bobby’s golf club obediently returned to earth, but not before it made a brief visit to the top of Cruickshank’s noggin.

After trying to collect his wits, Bobby staggered to the green and actually two-putted the thing. But he really wasn’t with us for the rest of the competition. By the time he finished, the woozy Mr. Cruickshank had slumped in the polls, and wandered into the club house in third place.

As Yogi Berra once said, “Don’t count your chick –” No, wait, that’s not it . . .

(text copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre) 
(photo credit: http://cdn.bleacherreport.net/images_root/slides/photos/002/105/805/cruikshank_display_image.jpg?1333738359)

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Story of the Day for Thursday March 28, 2013 


More or Less Securely Fastened

                 In Joppa, a disciple by the name of Tabitha . . .  was always doing good deeds and acts of mercy for the needy. 

                                          Acts 9:36

The World Race 2011PhilippinesFeedingPhil Khamoua helps serve food to children in need in the slums outside Manilla, Philippines with KIM Ministries.  The ministry provides 2 feedings a day, six days a week all over the area. In the fourth century, John Chrysostom, a pastor in Antioch wrote, “Every day the church feeds 3000 people. Besides this, the church daily helps provide food and clothes for prisoners, the hospitalized, pilgrims, cripples . . .”

At the same time, in Rome, Jerome mentions a Christian woman, Fabiola. “She was the first person to found a hospital, into which she might gather sufferers out of the streets, and where she might nurse the unfortunate victims of sickness and want.”

All this distressed the Roman Emperor, Julian, who wanted to destroy the Christian faith. He, futilely, urged the pagan priests to try to copy the compassion of the Christians. “It is disgraceful,” he moaned, that Christians “support our poor in addition to their own.”

Julian accused Christians of showing excessive compassion, and we’ve been guilty ever since.

Benjamin Rush, in addition to founding our country’s first Bible society, was also the leader in showing compassionate care to the mentally ill. The official emblem of the American Psychiatric Association features his portrait in the center.

After seeing the carnage of the Battle of Solferino, with little attention paid to the wounded, Henry Dunant, a devout Christian, inspired the founding of both the International Red Cross and the creation of the Geneva Convention.

A British nurse, Cicely Saunders was appalled by the lack of care given in the hospital for the dying. She founded Hospice to provide compassionate care to the terminally ill.

Habitat for Humanity, Prison Fellowship – we find that Christians are continually finding ways to help the poor and needy.

Some (well-meaning) Christians believe the sole purpose of the Church is to preach the Gospel and save souls. But, if this is true, what do we make of Jesus? Yes, he came to open the path to heaven. Yet, on his way to cross, his feet kept following his heart – which invariably led him to the tear-stained faces of the poor, the sick, and the outcasts.

Amy Carmichael went to India as a missionary, and spent much of her time working to free children from temple prostitution. She was criticized by fellow-Christians for not focusing solely on saving souls.

Amy responded, “One cannot save and then pitchfork souls into heaven . . . Souls are more or less securely fastened to bodies . . . and as you cannot get the souls out and deal with them separately, you have to take them both together.”

Since we can’t pry a person’s soul away from their body without killing the patient in the process, we might as well love the whole darn thing.

(text copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)
(photo courtesy of: http://s3.amazonaws.com/everystockphoto/fspid30/94/03/47/5/philippines-feeding-poverty-9403475-l.jpg)

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Story of the Day for Monday March 26, 2013 


Throw Your Hat Over the Fence


               “The Lord has chosen you to build a house as the sanctuary. Be courageous and act.” 

                                            1 Chronicles 28:10


On May 25, 1961, President John F. Kennedy addressed a joint session of Congress and proposed the outrageous goal of landing a man on the moon before the end of the decade. No one knew exactly how such a goal could be achieved. Even many experts at NASA said it couldn’t be done.

Sometimes it’s prudent to launch a venture only after you have figured every step of the process. But, at other times, the commitment creates the solution.

 The ancient Roman armies centered their identity around their standards – poles with military ensigns. These poles identified each division and company, and were considered sacred and represented the spirit and soul of the military unit. When the Romans went to war in Germania, their objective was simply to recover the military standards lost by Varus in the Teutoburger Wald.

When you consider how highly the Romans honored their company standard, it may seem surprising that, when Romans soldiers were locked in a tight battle the commander would sometimes throw the Roman standard into the lines of the enemy. The idea was to create a challenge so his soldiers would be forced to find a way to recover their standard.

 Before David died, he told his son, Solomon, that he must build the temple. Such a project would be enormous, and David doesn’t tell him how to do it. He simply tells him to be courageous and do it.

So, when should we commit ourselves to stepping out in faith, and when should we develop an airtight business plan first? I don’t know.

But I do know that when we rise to a high challenge, it ignites our courage and passion. When we commit our cause to the Lord, we may not always know where that path may lead us. But seeking to stretch our faith will drive us to prayer – to a greater sense of dependence on the Lord.

President John F. Kennedy in his historic message to a joint session of the Congress, on May 25, 1961 declared, "...I believe this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and ...

 Is it time for you to throw your hat over the fence? That phrase was used by President Kennedy in a speech promoting the space program. He cited the Irish writer, Frank O’Connor, who, as a boy would walk through the countryside. When he and his friends came to an orchard wall that seemed too high and difficult to climb, they took their hats and tossed them over the wall. Now they had no choice but to climb over the wall.

Kennedy ended his speech by saying, “This nation has tossed its cap over the wall of space, and we have no choice but to follow it. Whatever the difficulties, they will be overcome . . . we will climb this wall . . . and we shall then explore the wonders on the other side.”

This was Kennedy’s final public speech. He was assassinated the next day in Dallas.

And, on July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong left his footprints on the moon.

(text copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)
(photo courtesy of NASA: http://www.nasa.gov/audience/formedia/features/MP_Photo_Guidelines.html)

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Story of the Day for Friday March 22, 2013


String Your Bow, Flash Your Sword,

and Give God the Credit

I will not trust in my bow, my sword will not bring me victory. 

But you have delivered us from our enemies; you put to shame our adversaries. 

We have made our boast in God all day long, and we will forever give thanks to your name. 

                                    Psalm 44:6-8

Warren Buffett, the financial investor with, like, a gazillion dollars, likes to tell the story about his daughter, Emily.  When she turned four, he threw a birthday party for her. One of the main attractions was Beemer the Clown.

Beemer held “the box of wonders” and asked Emily to come forward and wave a magic wand over the box.  He would toss green handkerchiefs into the box, and cover it.  Emily would wave the magic wand, and then Beemer would pull out blue handkerchiefs from the box.  He would toss in loose handkerchiefs.  Emily would wave the wand over the box, and out would come handkerchiefs knotted together.

Emily was delighted. She was so pleased with her mastery of the magic wand that she blurted out, “Gee, I’m really good at this!”

 When we enjoy success, we like to take the credit.  After all, it was our “bow” and “sword” (as the Psalmist mentions) that made things happen. That’s why success can be so dangerous.  We treat God like Beemer the Clown, while we wave a magic wand and exult in our triumphs.

When we convince ourselves that God plays no part in our success, unpleasant things happen.

For starters, pride makes us obnoxious, and no one wants to be around us.

But, when we take credit for our success, we view God as our competitor.  We suspect he wants to hog the credit for the wonders we have done.

 At Chancellorsville, General “Fighting Joe” Hooker led a Union army of 130,000 soldiers against less than half that number of Confederates.  “The enemy is in my power,” he said, “and God Almighty cannot deprive me of them.”

Hooker got his butt kicked at Chancellorsville.

The Titanic rammed an iceberg on its maiden voyage and sank.  Even though other ships warned the Titanic about the icebergs, the pilot ignored the warnings, because, as one of the crew exalted, “God himself could not sink this ship.”

 Are you thinking what I’m thinking?  Maybe it’s not such a great idea to thumb your nose at the One who makes all our achievements possible.

J. S. Bach, perhaps the greatest musician of all time, wrote truckloads of brilliant music.  But his trademark signature at the end of his compositions were the initials   S.D.G.  Soli Deo Gloria – To God alone be the glory.

Bach strung his bow and flashed his sword. . .but gave God credit for the victories.

(text copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)
(photo: http://www.deviantart.com/download/158456237/Jack_Churchill_by_viking_juggernaut.jpg)

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Story of the Day for Thursday March 21, 2013 


Nothing Glamorous About Roots

                He will be like a tree planted by the water – that sends out its roots. . . It will not be anxious in a year of drought and will never fail to bear fruit.  

                                  Jeremiah 17:8

Let’s imagine you buy seeds for a Chinese Bamboo Tree. You plant them in an indoor greenhouse and hope for the best.

But, after a year of watering the soil, nothing has germinated.

Oh well, you just keep on watering the soil for another year. Still nothing. No sprout; no nothing.  You notice that the neighbors are beginning to look at you funny.

After the third year of constant care and watering, your best friend sits you down over coffee and gently points out that there is a difference between persistence, which a saintly virtue, and beating your head against a wall, which is the mark of an idiot.

You enter your fourth year of watering, and still nothing has happened. Family members have summoned the nice people in the white lab coats to take you for a little ride, but you hide in the broom closet until they quit looking for you and leave.

And you just keep on watering your seeds.

If you keep watering the seeds of a Chinese Bamboo Tree for four years, you won’t see anything happen. But, in the fifth year, a sprout will shoot up from the soil. And then – are you ready for this? – the tree will grow eighty feet high in the next six weeks!


 But notice: the Chinese Bamboo Tree cannot grow eighty feet in six weeks. It can only grow eighty feet in five years.

The Bamboo Tree needs to develop a good root system first. The first four years of growth are all underground, and we can’t see what’s going on down there.

 Let’s face it: there is nothing glamorous about roots. And not only that, if conditions stay perfect, a tree doesn’t really need deep roots.

But conditions never stay perfect. When the storms come, they will topple you over unless you’ve got deep roots. When the drought comes, your leaves will wither unless you’ve sunk deep roots.

Learning to find our strength in the Lord is like sending roots deep underground. The daily discipline of prayer and meditation and study is not something others see. No one will marvel at your prayer time nor applaud when you read your Bible.

But when the tough times come, you’ll find that the unseen taproot is finding all the water you need.

 The pastor of a congregation got sick, and so, with little time to prepare, they asked an old pastor to give the sermon that morning.  The sermon was solid, clear, and nourishing. Afterward, a member thanked him for the fine sermon, and then asked, “How long did you take to prepare your sermon?”

The old pastor answered, “Seventy years.”

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

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Story of the Day for Wednesday March 20, 2013 


Letting Him Find You 


                    I have gone astray like a lost sheep. Seek your servant. 

                            Psalm 119:176

Stephen Pile, in The Book of Failures, tells the story of a traveler returning, years later,  to his native Italy. In 1977, Nicholas Scotti flew from San Francisco to Rome. His flight stopped for a couple hours in New York for refueling. Mr. Scotti assumed they had already landed in Rome and left the airport.

First time here, I loved it, cant wait to come back . Chilly weather!

Times Square, NYC

Scotti was confused by the unusual skyline, but assumed the city had undergone recent modernization. He was amazed that most people spoke English, but figured that Rome was a popular tourist attraction for Americans.

When Scotti spotted a policeman, he asked, in Italian, for directions to the bus depot. Oddly enough, the policeman was an immigrant from Naples and conversed with him in fluent Italian.

But Scotti was baffled when he found no one else in Rome who could speak Italian. Even when told he was told he was in New York, he refused to believe it. In the end, police officers drove him back to the airport and sent him on a return flight to San Francisco. But, for Nicholas Scotti, the police car racing to the airport only confirmed he was in Rome. “I know I’m in Italy,” he said, “That’s how they drive.”

 Nicholas Scotti has nothing on me. Yesterday I got lost while hunting.

Northwest Montana has immense tracts of forbidding wilderness and I love to disappear into the deep woods to explore new areas. Yesterday, my wife drove me several miles up a winding mountain road and dropped me off.

I worked my way up a steep mountainside to an open ridge, but then the fog rolled in and obscured all the surrounding peaks I use as landmarks. Though I had never been in this area before, it, somehow, didn’t look right. Very odd.

The most dangerous time in getting lost is when you don’t know you are. Like Mr. Scotti, you try to reinterpret everything that is confuses you and make it fit your assumptions.

One of the best things that can happen is to be lost, but know it. When the fog lifted yesterday I was astounded to see that Lydia Mountain was no longer sitting in its traditional location. That revelation told me where a road was.

The road was important – not because I could now find my way home – but because my wife could now come looking for me and find me.

 In today’s religious thought, we think of “The Lost” as those who have no saving faith in Christ. But that usage is rare in the Bible. Usually it is God’s own people who manage to go astray and lose their bearings.

When you know you’ve strayed in life and lost your way, it’s not so much a matter of finding God as letting him find you.

(text copyright 2012 by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)
(image credit: http://s3.amazonaws.com/everystockphoto/fspid20/67/25/guardia-airport-york-6725-l.jpg)

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Story of the Day for Tuesday March 19, 2013


Even A Bug Can Teach


                 When pride comes, disgrace with follow. With humility comes wisdom. 

                                                                                                        Proverbs 11:2

The 19th century was the golden age of British conquest. The sun never set on the British Empire, and the cultured English bathed in their glory.

Having conquered and colonized vast uncivilized cultures of the world, in the spring of 1845, they set out to conquer Nature.

Sir John Franklin led the best-funded expedition in history to find the fabled Northwest Passage to the Orient. Two 350-ton vessels were equipped with steel reinforced hulls, a 1000 book library, and heated cabins.

Confident of their invincibility, they defied the arctic seas . . . and lost.  The massive ice flows slammed into their ships and wedged them fast.  For two years they waited for the ice to release its grip, but the ice refused to budge, and all of Franklin’s men perished.

 Oddly enough, Franklin’s men met the native Inuit of the area. A decade later, Francis Hall spent time with the Inuit, who told him of their encounters with Franklin’s crew. The Inuit gave seal to the starving men, but the British sailors never asked for help in survival. Though the Inuit could travel long distances on their dog sleds, they never asked for help in sending out a rescue party.

The Victorians of this age were intent upon asserting their superiority over all other cultures. They saw the arctic natives as ignorant savages, and refused to swallow their dignity by begging them for assistance.

This image was copied from nl.wikipedia.org. The original description was : <br /><br />Frontispiece portrait of Roald Amundsen, 1872-1928. In :  "The South Pole", Volume II. Photograph :  Steve Nicklas. Copied from :  NOAA...


  Years later, twenty-eight-year old Roald Amundsen, slipped out of the harbor at Oslo with six others in a small, second-hand fishing boat. They sailed until the arctic winter set in and found themselves in the same vicinity as Franklin’s stranded expedition.

But Amundsen sought out the Inuit. He befriended them and learned their secrets of survival in the arctic. They taught him how to hunt seals and build igloos. He was amazed to find their reindeer clothing far better than his own. He lived on their diet.

When he borrowed their sled dogs for an exploratory trip, he bogged down and had to dump half his supplies to make it back to the Inuit village. They were amused, but showed him how to reduce the friction of the sled runners.

  When the spring ice thawed and allowed the Norwegians to continue their journey, Amundsen dismayed the crew by refusing to sail. He claimed they still hadn’t learned enough from the Inuit in how to survive in the Arctic.

Amundsen would not only sail on to discover the Northwest Passage, but would later outrace the British to plant the first flag on the South Pole.

 God tells us in the Bible to observe the behavior of ants and learn from them. Even a bug can teach us spiritual truth, but only the humble have the ears to listen.

(text copyright 2012 by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre) 
 (photo by Robbott in Wikipedia, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/publicdomain/)

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