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Archive for June, 2013


Story of the Day for Friday June 28, 2013 

 

Being the “Rightest” 

 

          You rescue the humble, but your eyes are on the haughty to bring them low.  

2 Samuel 22:28          

 

 

After God has delivered his opinion on haughtiness, it is amazing how many of his followers vie with each other to be the haughtiest.  

Christians have split up into countless denominations and every one of them believes the same thing: we’re righter than anyone else about doctrine, and we feel pretty smug about it. When was the last time you heard a denomination admit: “We want to follow Jesus, but, frankly, we’re not sure our doctrine is perfect”?  

Don’t get me wrong: it’s important to be right about stuff. But it’s even more important to be humble. None of us knows God so well that we have eliminated all the fuzziness in our understanding of him.  

Yet, how often do we admit that we’ve bumped up against Bible passages that don’t want to agree with our present understanding? We Christians – and especially we Bible teachers – are not eager to talk about the many passages in Scripture that still have us puzzled.  

 

In September of 1864, London’s Soho district was ravaged by a cholera epidemic. 143 residents in the Broad Street area died within a single day.  

Dr. John Snow believed the cholera outbreak was caused by contaminated water from the public Broad Street pump. But everyone else – including the Medical Committee and a local curate, Rev. Henry Whitehead, believed Snow was wrong.  

Dr. Snow wrote up his observations, On the Mode of Communication of Cholera, but Whitehead and the Medical Committee overseeing the epidemic disagreed with his conclusions. In opposition to Dr. Snow, Whitehead wrote an opposing account, The Cholera in Berwick Street.   

In an effort to prove Snow wrong, Rev. Whitehead began a personal investigation. He went door to door – asking residents about sanitation and their use of the Broad Street water pump.  

When he finished his investigation he realized his data supported Dr. Snow’s position. Whitehead did what few have the humility to do: he publicly renounced his former position and urged the Medical Committee to listen to Snow.   

 

We now know that Snow’s view about cholera has been validated. But for a decade after Snow presented his evidence, the medical community continued to call his position unsound. Whitehead, alone, was humble enough to admit that his original opposition to Snow had been wrong.  

 

If you want to feel superior to others, don’t gloat that you’re the “rightest”; strive to be the humblest. Then you can take pride in being . . . hey, wait a minute – I think I just goofed up somewhere.  

 

Being the ‘rightest’ is an easy way for us to operate.  How do you resist this temptation and instead practice humility?  What struggles do you encounter when it comes to being the ‘humblest’? 

(text copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)
(image: http://www.ph.ucla.edu/epi/snow/johnsnowpubsign.jpg)

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Story of the Day for Thursday June 27, 2013 

 

The Word He’ll Speak 

 

                    Job answered the Lord . . . “You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my counsel without knowledge?’ Surely I have declared things I didn’t understand.”  

Job 42:3   

 

Aristotle was the most revered of all the world’s philosophers. He believed that scientific experiment was beneath the dignity of a true philosopher. If something is true, you should be able to figure it out by simply thinking hard about it.  

That is why, for almost 2000 years, no one contested Aristotle’s pronouncement that heavier bodies fall faster than lighter ones at a proportional rate. A ten pound cannonball, he maintained, will fall ten times faster than a one pound musket ball.   

Galileo wasn’t the first person to disprove Aristotle’s notion. Simon Stevin had already refuted Aristotle by his experiment of dropping various lead balls from the church tower in Delft. They all hit the ground simultaneously. 

What made Galileo’s demonstration from the Leaning Tower of Pisa so notable was that philosophy professors loyal to Aristotle witnessed the experiment. According to Aristotle, when a ten pound ball is dropped from 100 feet, it should hit the ground before a one pound ball, dropped at the same time, has fallen ten feet. 

Here is the most remarkable thing about the experiment at the LeaningTower. After Galileo’s experiment disproved Aristotle’s assumption, the philosophy scholars STILL refused to believe their eyes and admit that Galileo was right!   

 

After Job lost his health, wealth, and family, his friends stopped by to offer condolences — as well as their theological opinions concerning why God let these things happen to Job. In the end, God silences their debate by demonstrating that all of them are simply spouting their ignorance.  

 

The theological experts in Jesus’ day thought they had God pretty well figured out. If good things happened to you, it meant that God loved you and approved of your behavior. If, however, you got sick, or suffered from some misfortune, that meant you were sinful and God was angry with you.  

The opinions of the rabbis were reasonable. But they were dead wrong. 

 

We still do that today. Ask someone to complete this sentence: “If God loved me, then . . .” You may be surprised at how many people would say, “If God loved me, the cancer would turn out to be benign.” “If God loved me, I wouldn’t have lost my job.” “If God loved me, he wouldn’t have let my sister die in the car accident.”  

 

We can spout opinions about God all day long. It hardly seems right that admitting our ignorance is the best way to know God. But it is the only way to know God. The only way we can learn about God is to shut up long enough for him to speak.  

And, if we listen, the Word he’ll  speak will be Jesus.  

 

Have you shut up long enough to hear God speak the Word of Jesus?  What have you heard him say?  How has it affected how you live your life?  Let us hear of your blessings! 

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

(image: http://everystockphoto.s3.amazonaws.com/italy_tuscany_toscana_351879_h.jpg)

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Story of the Day for Wednesday June 26, 2013 

 

Kissing a Clenched Fist 

 

                  They got into such a heated argument that they parted company. 

Acts 15:39          

 

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Before Paul became a believer, he despised the church. He breathed out murderous threats against the church and tried to arrest anyone who listened to Christian radio stations. Jesus finally turned Paul’s life around, but the church leaders were too afraid of him to let him into the fellowship. Barnabas, bless his heart, took Paul to meet the leaders of the church and convinced them his conversion was genuine.    

Paul befriended Barnabas and the two stood by each other’s side in a great theological debate about how to handle pagans who came to the faith. On a missionary trip, the two shared their adventures together.   

Yet, despite their close friendship and shared adventures, Paul and Barnabas got into a squabble about whether to take Mark along on their next trip. The argument grew so heated that Paul and Barnabas parted ways.  

 

We’re all a bit daffy about arguments. If we estimated how often the rest of the world is in the right when they argue, we’d say, “Oh, about half the time.” But, if we ask ourselves how often we’re in the right when we get in an argument, we would respond, All the time!”All of us think this way, but if you do the math, it doesn’t add up. 

 

Arguments often flare up over trivial differences. If Paul and Barnabas would have decided to take a nap first or share a candy bar, I doubt they would have even gotten into the scuffle they did. They could’ve worked it out.  

 

James Kay, in his book, Seasons of Grace, described an incident in Damascus, Syria, where a bicyclist rode down a market street, balancing a crate of oranges on his handlebars. A man, bent over with a heavy load, walked in his way and the two collided. Oranges went rolling down the street and the two got into a quarrel over who was at fault. A crowd gathered as the cursing and clenched fists indicated a fight was about to erupt.  

Then a little man walked into the fray, took the clenched fist of the bicyclist in his hands and kissed it. The two men relaxed and the crowd murmured their approval. Instead of assigning blame everyone gathered the oranges and put them back in the crate, as the little man slipped into the crowd.  

 

Like the rest of us, even the apostle Paul could slip up. But all was not lost because he knew where he wanted to go. He knew that we should avoid quarreling, but when we do, we must learn to reconcile.  

As an old man, he advised Timothy, “Avoid foolish and stupid disputes because you know they cause quarrels. And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel.”  

And, he also asked Timothy to bring Mark along on his next visit, because “he is a good help in my ministry.”  

 

Have you ever ‘kissed a clenched fist’ in order to avoid foolish and stupid disputes?  Have you ever been in a situation where doing that would have caused relaxation and reconciliation could take place?  Tell us about it, please. 

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Story of the Day for Tuesday June 25, 2013 

Reclassify him as a Dim Bulb 

 

                             For in the way you judge others, you will be judged.  

Matthew 7:2      

 

My friend Lee Ressleronce told me a humorous story: 

Last fall, Lee had ordered some fishing flies for himself and his friend, whom we’ll call Jim. When the order came in, Lee invited Jim over to pick them up. Jim knocked on the door, but Lee was outside around the side of the house. He shouted to Jim to go in, while Lee went inside from a side door.  

Jim stood in the entryway — accompanied by a large, shaggy dog. Lee offered Jim a chair, while he plopped down on his sofa. While he got out the flies, the dog laid on the floor at Jim’s feet.   

Lee was a little peeved. Not only was the dog stinky, but he felt guests should at least ask permission before bringing their dogs inside someone else’s house.   

As the men continued to talk about fishing flies, the dog jumped up on the sofanext to Lee and he could no longer control his annoyance. Hecommanded the dog to get off 

His friend neverapologized nor reprimanded his dog for jumping on the furniture.  

https://i0.wp.com/0.tqn.com/d/cameras/1/0/v/2/sadDog.jpg

Lee was inwardly fuming and offered his friend some lemonade so he could stalk into the kitchen to regain his composure. The nerve!  But as he got up, the dog trotted into the kitchen with him. As soon as Lee opened the door, the dog poked his nose into the fridge.  

That did it! 

“This dog is hungry!” Lee hotly told his friend. “If you want to keep a pet, you’ve got to take care of ‘em.”  

Jim was puzzled. “My dog? I’ve never seen this dog before. I thought he belonged to you!  

 

After hearing the story of Lee and Jim’s silent criticism of each other, I knew this would be a perfect story about judging others falsely, and asked Lee if he could scribble down some notes on the incident for me.  

A few days later he handed me his notes. I thanked him for his trouble, and as we sat down, I scanned his notes. 

“This is great,” I told Lee, “but, in order to make the story more vivid, I could use a few details. What kind of dog was it?” 

“I don’t know.”  

Oh well. Probably amutt.  

“What color‘s the sofa?” 

Don’t know.”  

“How could anyone not know the color of his own sofa?” I thought to myself.  

“Well, what‘s your friend’s name?” 

“I don’t know, but I think I could find out.”  

Lee always seemed like such an intelligent guy, but I was just beginning to reclassify him as a dim bulb, when he clarified, “This incident didn’t happen to me; it happened to this guy I know who lives west of town.” 

 

Now I know why Jesus came to earth to cover us in grace; we’re hopeless without it. But, before I tell you stories about not judging others, maybe I’ll work on it a little more myself.  

 

Have you ever classified yourself as a dim bulb?  Why?  How easy is it for you to judge others? How has God’s grace given you hope?   

(copyright 2012 by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre) (image: http://z.about.com/d/cameras/1/0/v/2/sadDog.jpg)


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Story of the Day for Monday June 24, 2013 

 

“Mr. Irrelevant” 

 

Jesus told them, “Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me. And whoever welcomes me welcomes the One who sent me. For the least one among you is the greatest.” 

Matthew 25:40    

 

The murmurs of anticipation began to increase in this year’s NFL draft as the Baltimore Colts were on the clock to make their pick. They surprised everyone by picking a quarterback.  

I’m not talking about the Colt’s number one pick of quarterback Andrew Luck; the place was buzzing over the last pick in the draft: Chandler Harnish from Northern Illinois. By being selected dead last in the draft, Chandler captured the dubious honor of being named Mr. Irrelevant.  

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For the last twenty years, the final pick in the draft has been announced by Paul Salata, a white-haired man in his mid-eighties. He invented the Mr. Irrelevant award thirty-seven years ago — not to honor the first, but the last player picked in the NFL draft.  

Chandler Harnish will hold news conferences and be showered with gifts. One bank will give him one day’s interest on a million dollars so he can feel like a millionaire for a day. He’ll get a jersey from every team in the NFL just in case he, um, gets traded to another team.  

Harnish will be flown to Newport Beach, California, where they‘ll throw beach parties, parades, and regattas in his honor. Then Disneyland. He will drag the infield during an Anaheim Angel’s baseball game (they won’t let him throw out the first pitch because that would make him relevant). After a banquet held in his honor he will receive his award. Instead of the Heisman, he‘llget the Lowsman trophy — a statue of a football player with a clueless stare as he‘s fumbling the football.  

 

Some think the hoopla surrounding the Mr. Irrelevant award is stupid. Even more consider it insensitive. But I think Paul Salata’s brainchild is genius. He reminds us of a teaching of Jesus that we easily forget.  

In society, we honor and award the highest achievers, and why not?  

But love can’t be won by achievement. Ask a mother if she loves her newborn baby less because it hasn’t yet won a spelling bee or hit the winning home run in little league. God doesn’t love us because we’re better than others; God loves us because we’re there. 

Jesus gravitated toward society’s losers. He takes all our rankings according to status and tips them upside down. When it comes to learning acceptance and love, it may take us a while to wallow through the confusion and realize the least are the greatest.  

 

Paul Salata knows what it’s like to be overshadowed by greatness. He played for the 49ers and the Colts, but didn’t amount to much. Salata went on to become an actor. He appeared in movies such as “Singin‘ in the Rain” and “The Ten Commandments,” but his roles were so unimportant he‘s not even listed in the credits.  

The public may see Mr. Irrelevant Week as a lot of overblown silliness. Yet, Salata has used donations for the event to quietly give over a million dollars to those who are “irrelevant”: Goodwill, Marines at Camp Pendleton, and disabled athletes needing artificial limbs.  

 

Whenever anyone reminds me about Jesus’ view on status, I find it intensely relevant. 

 

(What reminds you of Jesus’ view on status?  Who do people vies as the  irrelevant ones in your circle of friends, in you business, in your social network?  How can they be loved and treated as Jesus would do it?)

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

(image: http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/dam/assets/120427041949-mr-irrelevant-jersey-story-body.jpg)

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Story of the Day for Friday June 21, 2013 

 

Dr. Livingstone, I Presume? 

 

                Even though he didn’t remove the high places, Asa’s heart was fully committed to the Lord all his days.  

1 Kings 15:14        

https://i0.wp.com/str8talkchronicles.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/David-Livingstone-007-366x220.jpg

David Livingstone is hailed as one of the greatest Christian missionaries of all time.  That’s odd in a way, because he only had one convert in his entire career.  

He wasn’t a great preacher and the London Missionary Society would have rejected him, but the director gave him a second chance to pass the course. In addition to this, he was a lousy leader and was incapable of organizing large-scale projects.  

 

Livingstone lacked the gifts you would desire in a missionary, but you simply could not get this man to quit. While trying to set up a mission, he was mauled by a lion and almost killed. After that, his arm was partially disabled and caused constant pain. Then his wife died of malaria. Livingstone himself often had his food and medical supplies stolen. His suffered from pneumonia, cholera and tropical ulcers. He became half blind. 

But he wouldn’t quit. “I am prepared to go anywhere,” he said, “provided it is forward.”  

 

No one back home quite knew how to deal with him. A missionary society wrote him and asked, “Have you found a good road to where you are? If so, we want to know how to send other men to join you.” Livingstone wrote back, “If you have men who will come only if they know there is a good road, I don’t want them. I want men who will come if there is no road at all.”  

Livingstone disappeared into the interior of Africa and explored areas that no white man had ever explored. He once lost contact with the outside world for six years. Those on the home front urged he be cautious. “If we wait till we run no risk, the gospel will never be introduced into the interior,” he wrote back.  

Livingstone was not only a missionary but a doctor – so he could care for the sick. When 19th century Britain was still looking for “lesser races” to rule, he changed the national mindset to see them as equals. His letters and books stirred support for the abolition of slavery.  

 

When this undaunted missionary died, the British demanded his remains. His body now lies in Westminster Abbey.  

But not his heart. The natives cut out his heart and buried it where he died. “You can have his body,” they said, “but his heart belongs in Africa.”  

Livingstone wrote in his dairy, “God, send me anywhere, only go with me. Lay any burden on me, only sustain me. Sever me from any tie but the tie that binds me to Your service and to Your heart.”  

 

Don’t worry about the gifts you lack. Just keep going in any direction . . . as long as it is forward. 

 

Where does your heart belong?  Are you willing to be sent anywhere as long as God is with you?  Can you handle any burden with God’s sustaining guidance?  What are the strengths God has given you to serve him with your whole heart? Are you moving in a forward direction?

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

(image: http://str8talkchronicles.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/David-Livingstone-007-366×220.jpg) 

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Story of the Day for Thursday June 20, 2013 

 

A Higher Calling Than Ourselves 

https://i2.wp.com/www.insidefilm.com/images/endurance.jpg

 

                Then Moses called for Joshua and said to him before all Israel, “Be strong and full of courage.” 

Deuteronomy 31:6    

 

 

During Abraham Lincoln’s presidency, he regularly attended New York Avenue Presbyterian Church, and became well-acquainted with the pastor, Dr. Phineas Gurley. Pastor Gurley was an articulate and popular preacher.   

After a midweek service, an aide asked the president his opinion of pastor Gurley’s sermon.  Lincoln praised the careful preparation and the eloquence of the message. 

“Then you thought it was a great sermon?” the aide asked. 

“No,” Lincoln replied, “because he did not ask us to do something great.” 

 

Spiritual leaders often struggle with this.  Wouldn’t we attract more followers if we ease up on the requirements?   Oddly enough, the opposite is true.  George Orwell had it right when he said, “High sentiments always win in the end.  The leaders who offer blood, toil, tears and sweat always get more out of their followers than those who offer safety and a good time.  What it all comes down to is that human beings are heroic.”   

When we no longer have a heroic purpose in life, we will seek a life of ease, safety, and comfort.  But we will not be content.   

 

When Moses knew the end of his days were near, he passed on the leadership to Joshua.  He called upon him to lead the people with strength and courage.   

 

A century ago, one man demonstrated this deep longing we have to do something courageous.  An arctic explorer, Ernest Shackleton ran a London newspaper ad that has now been called one of the greatest advertisements ever written: “Men wanted for hazardous journey.  Small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger, safe return doubtful.” 

Who would respond to an ad like that?  Shackleton was so overwhelmed with offers to join him that he had to turn away over 5000 requests.  Shackleton’s response was, “It seemed as though all the men in Great Britain were determined to accompany us.” 

 

There was a day in America when professing your Christian faith brought admiration.  It was socially acceptable to go to church.  It was safe.  John Maxwell once quoted an Anglican bishop, who wryly asked, “I wonder why it is that everywhere the apostle Paul went they had a revolution, and everywhere I go they serve a cup of tea?”   

Those days when our faith is considered socially acceptable are quickly drawing to a close.   Today we are being called to a life of courage.   We seldom hear the old adage anymore, but we need it now more than ever: “If you don’t have anything in your life worth dying for, you don’t have anything worth living for.”   For years evangelists have sought to attract others to Christ by promising prosperity, comfort, good health, and safety.   We can no longer live as pampered, self-centered Christians.   We need to call each other to a higher calling than ourselves.  We need to appeal to the heroic.  Ernest Shackleton had it right.  

 

Did Ernest Shackleton have it right?  Why do we need to appeal to the heroic in people?  Share with us a time when it all came down to being heroic in your life? 

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

(image:http://www.insidefilm.com/images/endurance.jpg )


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