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Archive for May, 2013


Story of the Day for Friday May 31, 2013 

 

But, Then Again, on the Other Hand… 

 

                   At dawn the angels urged Lot, saying, “Get up! Take your wife and two daughters, or you will be swept away when the city is punished.”But Lot hesitated. 

Genesis 19:15-16        

 

One of the greatest singers of all time, Luciano Pavarotti, knew what he wanted to be from a young age. He wanted to be a soccer goalie.  

Luciano’s motherurged him to become a teacher instead, so he sought a degree in education. But his father, Fernando, introduced him to the joy of singing. ArrigoPola, a professional tenor, took on Luciano as a student — teaching him without pay.  

Pavarotti was torn. Should he pursue a teaching career or seek to become a professional singer? Finally, his father put it to him bluntly, “Luciano, if you try to sit on two chairs, you will fall between them. For life, you must choose one chair.”  

 

When Abram and Lot started running out of elbow room, they decided to part ways on friendly terms. Abram gave his nephew Lot first choice, and he chose the fertile lands to the east. Lot settled with his family in the town of Sodom.  

One day, two angels warned Lot to take his family and flee from the city because God was about to destroy it. This wasn’t a great time to hesitate, but that‘s exactly what Lot did.  

Major decisions in life have the tendency to paralyze us. No matter what we decide we can always say, “Yes, but on the other hand . . .”  When we seek to serve the Lord with our gifts and abilities,our problem is seldom that we choose the wrong direction; it’s that we can’t decide, so we choose no direction at all.  

 

Up on Pinkham Creek, the animal version of  Russian Roulette is to attempt to run in front of a vehicle without becoming roadkill 

The gophers gather in the ditch and one of them says, “Okay Harvey, it’s your turn.” Another gopher shouts, “Hey, I hear something coming!” The gophers keep Harvey poised until the vehicle is closing in on them and then they shout, “Go, Harv, hit it!” And Harvey barrels across the road as fast as he can scamper . . . which isn’t all that fast.  

Yet, while gophers aren’t all that fast, they seldom get hit because they always race for the other ditch without hesitation.  

The pine squirrels play the same game but are far faster. Yet, in the middle of the road they stop, turn around and start to run back. Hesitate. Turn around. Run the other way. Stop. Hesitate . . . Squirrels are lightning quick but often lose at Russian Roulette.  

There’s a lesson here.  

But, then again, do I really need to spell it out for you?  

On the other hand, without an application my meaning could be misunderstood.  

Nevertheless, shouldn’t I trust you’re smart enough to figure it out for yourself 

Okay, maybe I should explain the meaning of the gopher story, but I always limit my articles to one page, so it’ll have to be brief. 

Oh, for crying out loud, I just ran out of space.  

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

(photo: http://everystockphoto.s3.amazonaws.com/gray_squirrel_animal_735431_m.jpg)

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Story of the Day for Thursday May 30, 2013 

 

Hey, Who Has the Talking Stick? 


                     If you don’t consult others, plans fail. But with many advisors they succeed. 

Proverbs 15:22        

 

 

In 1906, the livestock fair at Plymouth, in Devon, England accepted wagers on the weight of a butchered ox. About 800 fairgoers placed a bet.  

Sir Francis Galton was a brilliant statistician, but was an elitist. He believed most people were incompetent to have a say in political affairs. Because most of those who wagered on the weight of the ox were neither farmers not butchers, he believed the uninformed crowd would guess wildly off the mark — and he was almost right.  

Many who made wagers were nowhere near the actual weight of the ox. When the wagering was over, the ox was put on the scale and weighed in at 1198 pounds. Galton took all 800 wagers and averaged their guesses. He was stunned to discover, however, that the statistical mean of all the guesses came to . . . 1197 pounds. 

 

When Native American tribes faced important decisions, their leaders would gather for a council. They began by smoking the calumet. They relaxed, passed the pipe, and established a common bond. When various tribes gathered together, a chief from one tribe would speak. When he finished, the council was over for the day. The next chief would not speak until the others had a day to mull over the words of the first chief.  

When some tribes held their own councils, they fashioned a talking stick. Often, an eagle feather was attached to the stick to symbolize the courage to speak truthfully, along with rabbit fur to remind them to speak from the heart. No one was ever allowed to interrupt the one holding the talking stick. By passing the talking stick to every member of the council, everyone viewpoint was heard, and everyone learned to listen carefully to each person’s viewpoint.  

 

If you’ve been paying attention so far, you may be itching for me to hand you the talking stick. And you probably have some excellent points to make 

Marty, pointing out that the statistical regression to the mean helps a crowd to accurately guess a cow’s weight is not . . .” 

“I think it was an ox, actually.” 

“Hey, who has the talking stick?” 

“Sorry.” 

“A group’s ability to accurately estimate the weight of an ox is far different from a group’s ability to discover theological truths by consensus. You can’t discover whether God loves you by taking a vote.”  

Excellent point. When others share their opinion they may well be wrong. But, all the same, we’re never harmed by listening thoughtfully to what they have to say.” 

“I still haven’t given you back the talking stick.” 

“Oops.”  

NOW, you have the talking stick!  How do you discover whether God loves you or not?  How do you listen thoughtfully to what other have to say?  Tell us all about your thoughts. 

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

(photo: http://fc04.deviantart.net/fs70/i/2010/104/9/4/Talking_Stick__Leopard_by_cardnial_wolf.jpg)


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Story of the Day for Wednesday May 29, 2013 

 

Sometimes It Takes a Famine 

 

Behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord God, “when I will send a famine on the land. Not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but rather for hearing the words of the Lord.” 

Amos 8:11      

 

If you would’ve walked into a fast food restaurant 300 years ago and ordered a cheeseburger, no one would’ve asked you, “Would you like fries with your order?”  Potatoes hadn’t been invented yet — at least not in Europe and North America.  

 

When the Spanish conquistadors raided the Incan Empire in 1532, who could’ve convinced them that the greatest treasure they stole was not gold, but a tuber?   

In Peru the conquistadors discovered the potato, and by the early 1600s it was introduced to many European countries  

The Europeans had stumbled onto an amazing vegetable. It could be stored for up to ten years. The plant was so adaptable it could be grown in hot or cold, wet or arid climates. The potato helped mitigate scurvy, tuberculosis,and dysentery. It was remarkably nutritious. Besides providing a high source of carbohydrate, it was rich in vitamin C, potassium, and fiber. It supplied every vital nutrient except calcium and vitamins A and D.   

 

Yet, except as fodder for livestock, the potato was almost universally scorned. Some rejected it because it came from a heathen land. The Orthodox Church argued that potatoes were suspect because there was no mention of them in the Bible. Others, noticing the plants similarity to poisonous nightshade, considered it the creation of witches or demons. Before long, the potato was accused of causing leprosy, sterility, and sexual sin. The town of Besancon, France, fined anyone caught growing potatoes.  

European leaders, on the other hand, realized the potato could stave off famine during poor wheat harvests. In 1771, the Faculté de Paris declared that the potato was not harmful, but beneficial. It was no use; the peasants wanted nothing to do with it.  

 

What did the European nobility do to encourage the populace to accept the potato? They banned it. Frederick the Great of Prussia decreed that only royalty could eat potatoes.  He then created royal potato gardens and posted guards (while secretly telling them not to guard the crop closely). King Louis XVI of France wore a potato blossom in his buttonhole as a symbol of royalty, and Marie-Antoinette wore the same in her hair.  

Before long, potatoes were selling for highly inflated prices on the black market. Everyone wanted the vegetable that had been banned.  

 

God warned his people that when they began to lose interest in the words of the prophets and the writings of Scripture, he would take his Word away from them.   

Sometime it takes a famine to reawaken our longing for what is truly valuable.   

What is valuable in your life?  Have you experienced a ‘famine’ that has made you long for the truly valuable? 

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

(photo: http://everystockphoto.s3.amazonaws.com/everystockphoto_207679_m.jpg)

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Story of the Day for Tuesday May 28, 2013 

 

Looking For Ping Pong Balls 

 

And Paul replied, “I didn’t know, brothers, that he was the high priest.” 

Acts 23:5       

 

 

An elderly man, living just south of town, had an apple tree in his front yard which stood temptingly close to the road.The apple tree provided the man with far more fruit than he could use, so he generously allowed others to pick what they wanted.  

One evening, a carload of youth pulled up in front of his house and raced over to the apple tree looking down in the grass. The old man instantly realized they were looking to see if any apples had fallen into the highway ditch — since any fruit falling on the right-of-way of the road was fair game.  

The old man wanted the kids to know that they were more than welcome to come into his yard and pick all the apples they wanted, so he hollered from his porch, “Looking for some apples?” 

One of the kidsshouted back, “No, we’re looking for ping-pong balls!”  

The old man looked at them with a hurt expression. Why did they have to respond to his generosity with such a sarcastic comment?  

 

That same evening, I was busy orchestrating the annual scavenger hunt for our church’s youth group. I would hide objects all over town and hand each team a sheet of clues on how to find them. The kids would pile into cars and each team would try to find the most objects. Everyone had to be back in the church parking lot in an hour or they were disqualified. The group that found the most objects was declared the winner.  

Just south of town was a large billboard and I hid one of the objects at its base and wrote clues about how to find it. The billboard stood by the side of the road — right next to an apple tree. And the objects I was hiding this year for the scavenger hunt were . . . ping-pong balls.  

 

We can hurt others because we’re trying to hurt others. But how often have hurt feelings been the result of a misunderstanding?  

 

When the apostle Paul returned to Jerusalem his enemies recognized him and had him arrested. As he stood on trial before the court, he announced he had been dutiful to God, and for that comment the high priest ordered Paul to be struck in the mouth.  

This infuriated Paul and he shouted some insulting things at the one who gave the order.  

Those present were horrified. “How dare you revile God’s high priest!”  

Immediately, Paul apologized. He didn’t know it was the high priest. True, he felt he had been wronged, but he knew the Bible taught you should never insult the your leaders. 

 

Misunderstandings are, sad to say, unavoidable. Even looking for a ping-pong ball has the potential to cause hurt feelings. But they can be minimized when we learn to either apologize or forgive all hurts we cause or receive.   

Even the disrespectful insults from snotty-nosed kids who try to steal our apples.  

Have you ever hurt someone as a result of misunderstanding?  Have you hurt someone’s feelings inadvertently?  How did you apologize and forgive the hurts? 

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

(photo: http://s3.amazonaws.com/everystockphoto/sxc2/10/88/61/2/Ball-Grass-Green-1088612-l.jpg)

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Story of the Day for Memorial Day May 27, 2013 

 

Aaron the Bus Driver 

 

                 When we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him by the death of his Son. 

 

Romans 5:10        

https://i0.wp.com/ak1.picdn.net/shutterstock/videos/3428629/preview/stock-footage-antalya-turkey-circa-november-bus-driver-in-city-bus.jpg

Chuck Swindoll tells the story of a man he calls Aaron.  

Aaron lived in the Chicago area and prayed that the Lord might give him a significant ministry. He wanted to serve in a Christian organization or on a church staff, but nothing turned up.  

After weeks of praying and searching, he found nothing, so he resigned himself to finding any job he could, and began driving bus in southsideChicago 

Aaron’s route took him through a dangerous section of the city. Gangs would board the bus and refuse to pay. They would taunt him as well as the other passengers.  

This went on for several days. Finally, Aaron spotted a police officer standing at a bus stop. He reported the gang members and the policeman made them all pay their fare.  

But then the policeman got off the bus, and the gang members stayed on.  After the bus was out of sight of the policeman, they assaulted Aaron. 

 

When Aaron regained consciousness, there was blood all over his shirt. Two teeth were missing, his eyes were swollen, his money was gone, and the bus was empty.  

As Aaron recuperated at home from his injuries, his resentment against God began to build. He was willing to serve God in ministry. He prayed for an opportunity to serve, and this is how God thanks him for his willingness and dedication?  

 

On Monday, Aaron pressed charges, and with assistance from the police and eyewitnesses, the gang members were rounded up and arrested.  

At the hearing, Aaron walked into the courtroom with his attorney, and the thugs glared at him.  

When the gang members pleaded guilty to the charges, however, Aaron stood up and asked for permission to speak. “Your honor, I would like you to total up all the days of punishment against these men . . .” Then he continued, “And I request that you allow me to go to jail in their place.”  

The judge was stunned. Both attorneys were stunned. But, most of all, the gang members looked at him with wide-eyed amazement.  

The judge ruled him out of order and told Aaron that this sort of thing had never been done before.  

“Oh, yes, it has, your honor . . . yes, it has. It happened over nineteen centuries ago when a man from Galilee paid the penalty that all mankind deserved. “ 

Aaron went on to speak how Jesus died for our sins to bring his love and forgiveness to everyone.  

 

The judge denied Aaron’s request. But Aaron visited his attackers in jail. Most of them became Christians. And, sobegan the significant ministry he had prayed for, in the tough neighborhoods of SouthsideChicago

Have you ever been wide eyed with amazement at the sacrifices of others?  When?  What happened?  Would you share it with us in the comment section below?  Thanks!


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Story of the Day for Friday May 24, 2013 

 

No Yardstick for Love 

 

                 All day long my mouth will tell of your righteousness and salvation, though I don’t know its measure.  

Psalm 71:15     

 

Women are puzzling when they learn a baby has been born. They always want to know measurements, and excitedly pass on this information. “Did you hear Emily just had a baby girl? Six pounds, eightandahalf ounces, seventeen inches long!” 

Weighing in at 7 lbs, 8.2 oz...  I know what you're thinking, but it's all muscle!

Guys are different. After they learn it’s a boy or a girl, they really don’t know what to say. “Um . . .Does it have a belly button?”  

Women get excited about a newborn’s measurements, but the odd thing is that the actual measurements don’t matter.It’s not like a bass fishing derby where the bigger the largemouth the better. Babies don’t win awards for their length or weight. It’s not a competition.  

I believe a woman needs to measure a newborn because this is how she express her joy.  

 

Love always wants to measure what can’t be measured. Lovers write poems claiming their love is deeper than the deepest ocean. So, what are they trying to say? That their love is more than 10.91 kilometers at the point where Mariana Trench lies due north of Papua, New Guinea? Not exactly.  

Laying a newborn baby on a scale or imagining the depth of the ocean are imprecise means of calculating love, but how else do you measure the immeasurable? 

 

A lot of important things, however, can be measured accurately. That’s why we monitor our blood pressure and periodically lift the car hood to check the dipstick. But we get into trouble when precise measurements are the only standards we accept as important.  

Before his death from pancreatic cancer, Randy Pausch, in his book The Final Lecture, talks about his consulting work with Disney World. He asked Disney executives a pointed question: If a child walked into one of their stores with a broken salt and pepper shaker, would their policies allow their workers to replace it free of charge?  

Not likely. You can easily calculate the cost of a salt and pepper shaker. Giving one away is a financial loss. Do that for a billion customers and it could put you out of business.  

But Randy would tell the executives of the time, as a youngster, he went into a store at Disney World and bought a salt and pepper shaker for ten dollars. Afterward, he dropped his purchase and broke one of the shakers. He was heartbroken.  

An adult noticed Randy’s tears and urged him to go back to the store and ask to have it replaced. The store worker cheerfully gave him a new one.  

Did Disney World lose money doing that? By one way of measurement, yes. But Randy’s dad was so impressed when he heard of this act of kindness he started driving his students to Disney World in a twenty-one passenger bus from Maryland. Pausch says his dad spent over $100,000 at Disney World over the years.  

 

Love can’t be calculated and recorded on a spreadsheet — and this is especially true of Jesus’ love for you. We will always struggle to describe it because there is no yardstick for a love beyond measure.  

 

What expressions do you use to measure your love?  How about Jesus’ love for you. We’d love to hear your creative measurements of love. 

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

(image: http://everystockphoto.s3.amazonaws.com/oklander_anderson_baby_59814_o.jpg

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Story of the Day for Thursday May 23, 2013 

 

The Best Encourager in the World 

 

                                                    We never flattered you. 

1 Thessalonians 2:5                

When I browse through a sporting goods store and find a new gizmo that I simply can’t live without, I quickly track down my wife, sweep her in my arms and whisper, “Honey, have I ever told you that your eyes sparkle like shimmering pools of moonlight on a warm summer’s night?” 

She sighs, rolls her shimmering pools of moonlight, and asks, “So, what do you want to buy this time?   

My wife, to my great misfortune, can shrewdly distinguish between praise and flattery. Even though both sentiments glow with admiration, she knows that praise and flattery differ greatly in their sincerity.  

We flatter when we have an ulterior motive. The goal of flattery is not to give to others but to get something out of the one on whom we lavish insincere praise.  

 

When the apostle Paul writes to the newly formed congregation at Thessalonika, he assures them he never seeks to flatter. He had no hidden agenda. 

Yet, before disavowing flattery, he has been showering them with praise. He tells them they are a shining model for the other believers in the area. He writes of their joy in the face of severe suffering, their responsiveness in imitating Paul’s example, their faith, their love, their endurance. Paul could hardly be more effusive in his praise.  

 

Unlike flattery, praise is sincere. Yet, even though the intention of praise is to encourage others, sometimes praise can inadvertently harm them.  

Carol Dweck, a Ph.D from Stanford University, oversaw an experiment with hundreds of fifth graders. A student was given blocks with different colors on each side and asked to form the blocks into the pattern shown on a card.  

The first card showed an easy pattern. When a student completed the puzzle, half were told: “Wow, you did really well; you must be really smart.” When the other group finished the easy puzzle they were told: “Wow, you did really well; you must’ve worked really hard.”  

Dr. Dweck then had all the students tackle a far more challenging puzzle — one which forced every student to struggle. 

When each student finished the two puzzles, they were asked: “Which problems do you want to work on some more: the easier ones or those harder ones?” Those kids who were praised for their intelligence usually wanted to do the easier ones. But the students who were praised for working hard preferred the challenging puzzles.  

Dr. Dweck maintains that praising inherent talent motivates kids to not want to grow. New challenges are welcomed by kids praised as hard workers, but are a threat to those who must maintain their reputation for being intelligent.  

True praise should always seek to encourage and make others better. And if you learn to praise others wisely, I’m sure you can become the best encourager in the world!   

Or is that flattery? 

 

How are you becoming the best encourager in the world?  How do you use praise to encourage and make others better?  Tell us about your attempts at encouraging. 

 

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

(image:  http://media.basspro.com/images/outdoorworld/storeGalleryXML/storegalleries/40_7199881_0.jpg)

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