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Archive for April, 2013


Story of the Day for Tuesday April 30, 2013 

 

What’s Going to Happen Next? 

 

                  If serving the Lord isn’t desirable to you, then choose right now whom you will serve . . . 

Joshua 24:15        

 

 

Researchers Daniel Goldstein and Eric J. Johnson noticed that several European countries had nearly 100 percent of its citizens voluntarily participating in an organ donor program. Other countries had very few signed up to donate their organs.  

Why would some countries have such a high percentage of organ donors while other countries had so few? What do you think? 

Most people would conclude that the disparity between the percentage of organ donors is due to culture. If most citizens of a country felt that organ donation was unnatural or banned by one’s religion, that would explain the difference.  

But that’s not the reason. Countries sharing similar cultures show a marked contrast. For example, in Sweden 86% signed up for the organ donor program; in Denmark next door, only 4% have done the same. Germany has only 12%, while Austria has almost 100% participation. The Netherlands (after writing to every household in the nation pleading with them to join the organ donor program) has 28%. Belgium, which borders the Netherlands, has 98% of its citizens signed up in an organ donor program.  

The stark contrast by nation in organ donor participation can be explained by the Department of Motor Vehicles. When  citizens from Denmark, Germany, or the Netherlands renew their drivers licenses, they are asked to check a box if they want to become an organ donor. In Sweden, Austria, and Belgium, drivers are asked to check a box if they DON’T want to become an organ donor.  

Both groups tend not to check the box.  

The more important an issue becomes, the more we become reluctant to make a decision.  

 

We don’t make decisions to believe. We either believe in the Easter Bunny or we don’t.  We either believe or don’t believe thatgrass grows or that God exists.  

But once we believe anything, we must daily make decisions based on what we believe to be true — whether its hiding our own Easter eggs, mowing the lawn, or praying.  

When God’s people were returning to the Promised Land, Joshua gathered the people at Shechem, and he told them the story of what God had done for them. Joshua reminded them of how the Lord led their forefathers, how God worked with power to liberate them from their slavery in Egypt.  

After Joshua convinced the people of the steadfast care of the God of Israel, he called for them to decide: “Choose this day whom you will serve.”  

 

Faith comes first; then decision. You must first believe that diet contributes to good health before you decide to cut down on the lardburgers and fries.   

Once you believe in the beauty of the life that Jesus lays before you, you must decide what’s going to happen next. 

   

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

(graphic: http://s3.amazonaws.com/everystockphoto/fspid31/46/02/76/5/form-tick-4602765-h.jpg)

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Story of the Day for Monday April 29, 2013 

The Right Direction 

 

                                 It‘s fine to be zealous, as long as the purpose is good. 

Galatians 4:18    

 

Is “ambition” a virtue?  How about “zeal”?  I’ve never heard anyone claim that ambition can be a viceBut, if ambition is a positive quality, then we must also realize it can be used in destructive ways.   

If you want to go to Toledo, Ohio, you will be concerned about two things: speed and direction.  You’ll probably choose to drive a car over riding a donkey. But speed is a completely useless quality if we take the wrong highway and are headed to Omaha 

Ambition is speed.   

 

Jesus acknowledged that the Scribes and Pharisees were ambitious.  He said to them, “You travel over land and sea to win a single convert.”  But Jesus continues by saying their ambition is destructive: “. . . and when you win a convert, he becomes twice the son of hell you are!”   

When Paul writes to the church in Galatia, he warns them about Jewish legalists trying to infiltrate their congregation. These infiltrators want to persuade the church to abandon the freedom of the Gospel in order to submit to the regulations of the Old Covenant.  Paul admits these legalists are go-getters. But speed must be coupled with direction. “It‘s fine to be zealous (speed),” Paul says, “as long as the purpose is good (direction).”   

 

During World War II, the Germans had a ball bearing factory in the city of Schweinfurt.  The Americans reasoned that, if they could destroy the plant and stop the production of ball bearings, the production of war machinery would come to a halt and the Germans would have no choice but to surrender.  

In two bombing raids to destroy the ball bearing plant, Americans lost 98 bombers and badly damaged another 138.  Yet, despite the enormous losses, the Army Air Force leader, General “Hap” Arnold was ecstatic, “Now we have got Schweinfurt!”   

After the war, the Army Air Force wanted to know which of their bombing targets were most effective.  The Germans acknowledged the great damage done by bombing oil refineries, railroad yards, and bridges.  But the Nazi chief of productions, Albert Speer, said the bombing of the ball bearing factory at Schweinfurt did not harm the German cause.  They already had ample stockpiles of ball bearings.  Beside, they were able to import all they wanted from Sweden and Switzerland. Not only that, the bombings destroyed the buildings, but not the machines that made the ball bearings.  Focusing all that attention on the ball bearing factories at Schweinfurt did virtually no harm.  We were zealous in destroying the target.  But we chose the wrong one.  

 

It doesn’t matter how fast you’re going until you’re headed in the right direction.  

 

 

(text copyright 2011 by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre) 


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Story of the Day for Friday April 26, 2013 

 

    The Big Reunion 

 

                        “Now you may leave. Go in peace.” 

Acts 16:36        

 

Have you noticed that, when parting ways with a friend, how often we speak to each other a blessing or a promise?  

“Good-by” is the abbreviated form of the blessing, “God be with you.”  The French say adieu – which means, “Go with God.”  In Spanish, adios means the same thing.  

Even in our secularized culture we still offer the common benediction: “Have a nice day!”  

When we’re not wishing them well, then we tend to leave others with a promise of reunion, such as “See ya later.”  Whenever I left the home of an old German couple, they would wave and say, Auf wiedersehen, and I would return the sentiment by saying, “All feet are the same!” My sister says “See ya later, crocodile,” and my mom (whose native language was Finnish) used to say, “Näkemiin, Jellybean” – which is roughly translated, “See you later, you oblong, gelatin-based sugar candy.”   

Roy Rogers and Dale Evans have trumped everyone by combining both a blessing and the wish for reunion with “Happy trails to you (blessing) until we meet again (reunion).”  

                                                                             Roy Rogers and Dale Evans

There are, of course, times when people offer neither blessing nor promise. The British like to say tootleoo or cheerio.  But then the Brits will be Brits, and there’s not much we can do about that.  

 

What causes this common desire that those we leave would be blessed and that we would meet again?  You could say, I suppose, that these blessings and promises of reunion are simply ways to ease the awkwardness of leaving someone, but I’m not buying it.  

C.S. Lewis says that a man’s hunger doesn’t prove he will get bread, but it does indicate that there is such a thing as food which is necessary to nourish his body. Peter Kreeft jumps on this point by claiming “No one has ever found one case of an innate desire for a nonexistent object.”  

“If I find in myself a desire,” Lewis goes on to say, “which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.”  

 

When we part from friends and loved ones, we share a longing that God would go with them; that they would fare well. And we long to be reunited again.  

I believe the blessings and hopes of reunion that we offer each other when we part speak to a deeper reality. They express the spiritual longing that God would bless us and reunite us in heaven.  

 

A man’s hunger doesn’t prove that food exists, but it does indicate it’s available to us. God is inviting us all to the Big Reunion.

  

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

(photo credit: http://s3.amazonaws.com/everystockphoto/fspid30/36/80/23/1/history-historical-california-3680231-m.jpg)


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Story of the Day for Thursday April 24, 2013 

 

         Give What You’ve Got Left 

 

        The gift is acceptable according to what one has, not what he doesn’t have.  

                              2 Corinthians 8:12          

 

 

Noel Paul Stookey (from the folk-rock group Peter, Paul, and Mary) gave a solo concert in River Forest, Illinois back in the 70s.  

As a live performer, Stookey is incomparable. But, on one of his final songs, he broke a guitar string. He never missed a beat, but kept on singing and playing. And then, a second string snapped . . . and still he continued his song.   

With two strings dangling wildly, his guitar work didn’t sound quite as full, so we gave him a tepid applause for that song, right?  

Are you kidding? The auditorium went wild! We weren’t applauding the quality of his guitar sound; we were applauding his courage to do his best with the four strings he had left.  

 

God doesn’t appraise our efforts by what we wish we could do, but by what we can do.  

That’s how you treat other people too, isn’t it? That’s why you’re so delighted with a hand-drawn birthday card from a five-year-old. Even if half the words are misspelled and the drawing of you is less than flattering.  

 

So, why do you judge your own situation so differently?  Have you noticed how easily we fall into the habit of comparing our present efforts to what we used to be able to accomplish when we were younger, or what we could do before the accident?  

I live up in the mountains of Montana and look out my window at StillPeak. I love to hike to the summit, but, with age, and a massive blood clot, and nerve damage to both my calves, and arthritis in my knees, I can no longer dance up the trail to the summit like I used to.  

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That’s when I need to remember that God doesn’t care so much about what my body can accomplish; he cares about my heart – what I do with what I’ve got.  

 

My sister once took me and my family to worship at a stately Episcopal church near Detroit.  During the celebration of the Eucharist, the people would walk forward to the altar rail to receive Communion.  

As we were singing the Communion hymn, we noticed one man as he made his way to the front. He was in an advanced stage of muscular dystrophy and the spastic movement of his limbs made it virtually impossible for him to lurch toward the front.  

It took him a long time to make his way to the front, buthe was determined, and we would’ve have waited for him until Tuesday. My wife and I weren’t able to continue with the hymn. While he communed I wanted to applaud.   

 

Don’t be sad about what you don’t have. The only gift that God, and the world, wants from you is to give what you’ve got left.  

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


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Story of the Day for Wednesday April 24, 2013

We Shall Stand Victorious 

 

Be strong and let your heart take courage, all you who hope in the Lord. 

                     Psalm 31:24   


Scientists performed an experiment where they placed a rat in a tub of water.   In about an hour the rat would drown.   Then the scientists would place another rat in a tub of water, but would pluck it up out of the water every few minutes.  The researchers found that the rats who were periodically picked up out of the water would swim in the water for over 24 hours.   

What made the difference?  No, it was not the rest that the second group of rats received from being picked up.  The difference was that the first group of rats were given no hope of rescue while the second group had the hope that they would be eventually rescued. 

 

Hope is an act of faith.   When the future looks bleak, hope acts in the conviction that we will still find what we long for.   We will act as if our longings will take place in the future despite how dismal things may be at present.  Those who cling to their hope are far more resistant to the setbacks in life.   

 

During World War II, 25,000 American soldiers were imprisoned by the Japanese.  Living under inhumane conditions, it was no surprise that many soldiers died.  But, the soldiers themselves noticed a difference between those most likely to die and those who survived.  They realized that once a soldier lost all hope of getting out of prison camp alive, he would simply choose to die.   The soldiers who survived acted with the confidence that, someday, they would be released.  Robin Reader, in his work, Holding On To Hope, says these soldiers, “talked about the kind of homes they would have, the jobs they would choose, and even described the kind of person they would marry. . . Some even found ways to study subjects related to the kind of career they wanted to pursue.  The doctors taken captive even formed medical societies.” 

 

Hope provides an astonishing strength to our physical health as well.  In 1997 the American Heart Association cited the work of Susan Everson who found that people with a high level of despair were 20 percent more likely to have hardening of the arteries than optimistic people.   Everson noted, “This is the same magnitude of increased risk that one sees in comparing a pack-a-day smoker to a non-smoker.”   

 

But just because you hope for something, does that mean your hopes will come true?  No.   The apostle Paul would often close his letters to various congregations by saying that he hoped to visit them soon in person.   There was no guarantee that this would really happen. 

But the Bible also speaks of a hope that is not based on our human longings, but on the promise of God.  The Bible tells us repeatedly that we can rise up with confidence and courage when our hope is based on God’s word; that, when the dust settles, we shall stand victorious in his mercy.   

(text copyright 2012 by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre) 
(photo: http://s3.amazonaws.com/everystockphoto/fspid30/46/98/63/6/wwii-liberation-soldiers-4698636-m.jpg)

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Story of the Day for Tuesday April 23, 2013 

 

Soggy With Grace 

A large water drop on a clover leave. It almost seems to hover above. Lot's of interesting detail in the larger size.

          An angry man stirs up disputes, and a hot-tempered one commits many sins. 

Proverbs 29:22    

 

When you lose our temper and let someone “have it,” what are you hoping to accomplish?  Teach them a lesson and improve their behavior? Sounds noble, but no one’s buying it. Let’s not fool ourselves: anger seldom motivates other people to be better people. It increases hostility in those who feel our heat.   

In our honest moments, we know better. When we lose our temper, we want to hurt somebody. We don’t call it a “tongue lashing” for nothing.  

    

A hot temper stirs up anger in others. We’re starting a forest fire.But do you realize what your anger does to you in the process of hurting others? 

In 1940, Doulas Thompson, a Tennessee paper boy, was delivering papers when a neighborhood dog attacked and bit him. Thompson had the dog impounded, and it was later released in a few days. 

But the dog’s owner, Gertrude Jamieson, was outraged that her dog was impounded.  She began harassing Douglas with obscene phone calls several times a day.  She continued her hateful phone calls for forty three years! The harassing calls ended in 1983 when Gertrude was 85 – not because see finally let go of her anger, but because she suffered a debilitating stroke. Oh yes, she made Douglas Thompson pay for his “crime.”  But she destroyed herself by nursing her smoldering anger.  

 

When a bee plants its stinger into your flesh it introduces you to a lot of pain. But, once a bee loses its stinger, it dies. We cannot unleash malice on someone without destroying ourselves in the process.   

  

Margaret Tiffle, a 62-year old woman from suburban Paris, would get upset when others would part in the “No Parking” zone in front of her house.  So, when she found this fancy Citron parked in her front yard, she lost it. Furious, she got a stiff wire brush and mercilessly scratched up the paint job on the new car.   

Margaret’s husband came home and was inconsolable. For their 40th wedding anniversary he had bought her a new car. . . but someone had already vandalized it!   

 

Anger flares because there is fuel. And you cannot escape the fuel. You will always have others who tailgate you, and scratch your CDs, and lock the keys in the house.  

I live in the Rockies where huge tracts of dry timber ignite into forest fires.  You can’t eliminate all the fuel of dead timber, but last year, there were virtually no fires.  Know why? Rain. Lots and lots of rain.   

The fuel for anger will always be there. But the Lord wants to drench your life with his love. Fuel doesn’t burn when it’s soggy with grace. 

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

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Story of the Day for Monday April 22. 2013 

 

Schmedsel, Pretzel….What?” 

 

               Without consultation, plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed. 

Proverbs 15:22           

In the 1950s, the Ford Motor Company had high hopes for the new model car they developed.  

They hired the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, Marianne Moore to suggest a name for the car. She created a dazzling list that included: “The Intelligent Whale,” “The Mongoose Civique,” the “Andante con Moto,” “The Pastelogram,” and “TheUtopian Turtletop.” In the end, however, Ernest Breech, chairing a meeting in the absence of the company president, Henry Ford II, decided to name the car after his boss’s father. 

Unfortunately, Henry Ford II’s dad was Edsel, which sounded funny to the public. Later, when Ford’s David Wallace sent market analysts to ask people on the street what “immediate associations” they made with “Edsel,” they responded with: “Schmedsel,” “Pretzel,” “Weasel,” – and most disturbing of all, 40% responded with: “What?”  

Ford insiders, who knew and admired Edsel Ford, thought the name was perfect. PR director, C. Gayle Warnock, however, disagreed. When he learned of the name of the new car he left a one-sentence memo on his boss’s desk: “We have just lost 200,000 sales.”  

The ad campaign, costing $250 million (in the 1950s), raised consumer expectations to a high pitch with their “car of the decade.” In October, 1957, CBS replaced The Ed Sullivan Show with a live broadcast of The Edsel Show. Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Louie Armstrong, Rosemary Clooney, and Bob Hope were among the guest stars. During rehearsal, when Rosemary Clooney practiced walking up to her purple Edsel and opening the door, the door handle fell off.  

When the car was unveiled to the public, they hated it. “Edsel” sounded like a silly name for a car. Ford’s marketing campaign called their new car unusually graceful, but the public though it was ugly. One man described the garish “horse collar” grill as looking “like a Mercury sucking on a lemon.”  

The U.S. was in a recession and the public wanted smaller, fuel-efficient cars. The Edsel was more expensive than comparable cars and, among gas guzzlers, was exceptionally thirsty.  

 

High confidence and success are almost always attended by a disinterest in listening to the opinions of others. To be attentive to the spiritual counsel of others doesn’t mean we necessarily agree with their advice. It simply meansweconsider the viewpoints of everyone seriously, because everyone has something to teach us. 

In the end, it’s more important for us to grow wise from the counsel of others, than to think we’re brilliant in our own eyes.   

 

If you ever find yourself struggling with this concept, ask the makers of the Edsel for their reflections. 

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

(photo: https://encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcTnvut-85VPJz-foO4MXLG15UJJoh_StFrEShfuHJnC3nhBGVe5)                                                            

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Story of the Day for Friday April 19, 2013 

 

The Point of the Game

 

                    “You tithe your mint, dill, and cumin, but have neglected the more important laws: justice, mercy, and faith.”  

                                              Matthew 23:23

 

The Caribbean Cup soccer tournament in 1994 pitted Barbados against Grenada, with the winner going to the tournament finals. Barbados, however, not only had to win, but had to win by two goals to advance to the finals.

The tournament rules prompted one of the zaniest soccer games ever played. You’ll have to pay attention because I’m not going to repeat this.

The tournament committee ruled that, if the game ended in a tie, the game would go into sudden death. The first team to score in overtime is declared the winner. But, and this is important, the final goal would be counted as two points.

Okay, raise your hand if you’re with me so far.

Barbados was ahead, 2-0, when Grenada scored with minutes to go. Even if Barbados now won by one point, Grenada was headed for the finals.

But, with three minutes remaining, Barbados wasn’t even advancing the ball. Two defensive players calmly kicked the ball back and forth in front of their own goal, and then, to everyone’s surprise, a Barbados player kicked the ball into his own goal.

Italy's Marco Materazzi (gesturing) celebrates with team mates after scoring their first goal against France during their World Cup 2006 final soccer match in Berlin July 9, 2006. FIFA RESTRICTION - NO MOBILE USE     REUTERS/Kieran Doherty   ...

It took everyone a moment to realize what was happening. If play ended with the score tied, 2-2, the game would go into sudden death. If Barbados could then score the winning goal, they would be declared the winner by two points, and advance to the championship game.

Once Grenada grasped what had just happened, they realized that if they, too, scored a goal against themselves, they would lose the game by one point, but would advance to the finals.

The final minutes of regulation play were sheer madness. Grenada was desperately trying – not to score against their opponent – but against themselves. But Barbados was determined to keep Grenada from kicking the ball into its own net. This was no longer looking like what a soccer game was supposed to look like.

The game ended in a tie. In overtime, Barbados scored the tie-breaking goal and was declared the winner by two points.

Rules can have unintended consequences. The religious people of Jesus’ day tithed. No problem there. But, then, in the interests of being “super holy,” they began the practice of tithing everything – even their herb seeds.

Jesus wasn’t impressed by these extra rules because, while they were sitting on their bums counting out seeds and setting aside every tenth one for God, they were failing to be about the true life of God: helping the poor, showing mercy, and learning the life of faith.

 When we make rules that God doesn’t make, we end up missing the point of the game.

(text copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)
(photo credit: http://everystockphoto.s3.amazonaws.com/italy_berlin_germany_1417718_l.jpg)

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Story of the Day for Thursday April 18, 2013 

 

Total Abandonment to Your Calling

 

                        Moses said, “O Lord, please send someone else.” 

                                                           Exodus 4:13

 

Have you ever wanted to do something, but were afraid to try?

There’s a lot to be said for not trying.  Think about it: if you try to do something new, you’ll inevitably begin wobbly and will always be able to point to those who can do it better than you.  When we try, and fail, it produces embarrassment, frustration, discouragement, and criticism from others.

If, however, you simply refuse to try, you will be spared these humiliations of failure. Moses put up an admirable protest when the Lord called him to be the spokesman for his people. He stuttered. He was not a good speaker.

The Lord didn’t ask Moses to be good; he just told him to do it.

 Bill Staines is one of the most popular folksingers of our day. Both his resonant singing and accomplished guitar playing are easy to listen to.

Yet, Staines didn’t start his musical career because he was talented. He was inspired, as a child, by a framed embroidery that his mother hung above the piano. It said:

 I CAN’T PLAY

AND I CAN’T SING

BUT I CAN TRY LIKE ANYTHING

Florence Foster Jenkins loved to sing. Much to the dismay of her parents and husband, she decided to perform publicly. Her voice sounded like she was killing a cat, and the notes soared in a futile search for the correct pitch. Undaunted by any sense of rhythm, she never let the music’s tempo boss her around. Her accompanist, Mr. Cosmé McMoon, would constantly adjust the pace of the music to her unique sense of timing.

In The Book of Heroic Failures, Stephen Pile summed it up by saying, “No one, before or since, has succeeded in liberating themselves quite so completely from the shackles of musical notation.”

Jenkins’ popularity began to soar. It wasn’t simply that she was so spectacularly awful; many people know how to sing poorly. Instead, it was her total abandonment to her calling. She loved to sing. Robert Bagar in the New York World-Telegram captured her appeal: “She was exceedingly happy in her work. It is a pity so few artists are. And the happiness was communicated as if by magic to her hearers.”

Florence Foster Jenkins culminated her career on October 25, 1944, when she screeched and warbled before a sold-out crowd at Carnegie Hall.

Although Florence was fully aware of her critics, she simply didn’t care. “People may say I can’t sing,” she observed, “but no one can ever say I didn’t sing.”

 Michael Jordan nailed it: “If I try something and I don’t succeed, it doesn’t mean I failed. It means I tried.”

(text copyright 2012 by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)
(photo credit: https://encrypted-tbn3.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQFGQ4bHkpkbNkHrnoU8Iws0Ey1IVyuNsb1xwj9VeP3D7OJSx4nPA)

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Story of the Day for Wednesday April 17, 2013 

Dead Things Don’t Grow 

 

. . . Just as you learned from us how to live in a manner pleasing to God, in the same way you are living, do so more and more. 

1 Thessalonians 4:1     

 

My daughter, Erika, used to walk to work.  She had no choice.  Her summer job was at Schaffer Meadows, a remote ranger station near Glacier National Park in Montana.  The closest road to the ranger station, at Morrison Creek, was 14 miles, but her usual route from Spotted Bear headquarters wound18 miles over a mountain pass.   

Having completed a semester at NOLS, the National Outdoor Leadership School, hiking 18 miles to work was no big deal.   

 

Our family thought we’d just drop in for a visit one summer, so we hoisted our backpacks, hit the trail, and managed 300 yards before we stopped, exhausted, and had second thoughts about whether we were capable of completing an 18 mile hike.   

The first day, we managed to trudge up to a high mountain lake near Whitcomb Peak. And the second day we straggled into the ranger station.   

When we hiked out, we followed Morrison Creek and completed the 14 miles in one day.   

 

My son, Randy, joined the Marines a couple months later. Basic training was no picnic. After their first ten mile hike, the exhausted recruits complained at how strenuous the hike had been.   

Randy just smiled and said he had been hiking further than this in Montana.  At far higher elevation.  With a sixty pound pack.  And then the clincher . . .and accompanied by his five year old sister. 

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                                                            Randy and his  five year old sister near Whitcomb Peak.

 

Faith is like that.  When we do more than we ever thought we could have done, we find there is still more that we can do that we never thought we could have done.   

Paul is commending the congregation at the Greek town of Thessalonica.  They have been learning to apply their faith in Jesus and live in a way that pleases God.   

And what does Paul say? “Good going, you guys!  Now, keep growing more and more.”   

 

The life which Jesus calls us to is not static. We grow.  Look at how the Bible describes the church: we’re always growing.  Moving.  Building.   

Growing doesn’t earn us eternal life.  It’s the other way around: you have to first be alive. Dead things don’t grow.   

(text and photo copyright by climginghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre) 


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