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Archive for October, 2013


Story of the Day for Thursday October 31, 2013 

 

The One Who Sang a Perfect Song 

 

                   Amaziah did what was right in the eyes of the Lord – but not like his father David. Instead, he followed the example of his father Joash. 

2 Kings 14:3       

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A woman from Asheville, Alabama, bought a mynah bird, but as soon as she brought it home she discovered it was sick. The bird started wheezing and coughing and hacking as if it trying to clear its throat. The vet said the bird looked healthy, but maybe it had a rare aviary virus, so he gave antibiotics to clear up its respiration.   

After treatment with antibiotics, however, the bird continued to cough and wheeze. But, finally, the bird’s problem was solved.    

Can you guess the problem? Like parrots, mynah birds mimic sound. When they tracked down the previous owner, they discovered it was recently owned by a woman who had emphysema.  

 

All of us influence each other. The good news is that we can become a positive influence in the lives of others. The bad news is that our faults are a bad influence on others. Unfortunately, we don’t get to pick which of our traits will affect the lives of others.  

A man owned a lovely Chinese plaque with raised figures on it. He hung it on his wall, but one day it fell and broke it half. He wanted the valuable handmade plaque replaced, so he glued the plate together as best he could and mailed it to China so that they could make a copy of it.   

A half a year later, his new plaque was finished and mailed to him. The copy was exquisitely made – just like the original . . . including a crack across the center.  

 

As the king of Judah, Amaziah got off to a good start. But, while he could’ve been a great king if he sought to model his rule after king David, he instead followed the example of king Joash, and needlessly bungled things up. 

 

The village of Andreasberg, Germany, became famous for raising canaries. The birds, although not native to the HarzMountain region, nevertheless, were known worldwide for the quality of their beautiful songs.  

The secret to the superior song of these canaries was no great mystery. The Germans of Andreasberg understood that a bird learns to sing from others around it. So, they wouldn’t sell their best songbirds – they kept them so that the other canaries would be influenced by their song.  

 

I’m not trying to make you feel guilty for those times you’ve been a bad influence on others. That’s why forgiveness is so refreshing.  

But, if we want to grow in becoming a helpful influence on those around us, the best place to begin is by placing our lives under the influence of the One who sang a perfect song.  

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

(image: http://www.birdsgallery.net/gallery/canary/canary_3.jpg)

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Story of the Day for WednesdayOctober 30, 2013 

 

Knowing Where Belly Rubs Come From 

 

                A woman who had lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was dining at the Pharisee’s house. She brought an alabaster jar of perfume and stood weeping behind Jesus’ feet. Her tears wet Jesus’ feet, and she wiped them with her hair. Then she kissed his feet and put the perfume on them. 

Luke 7:37-38     

 

We used to helly's summer pictures 2010 119ave two puppies, Garibaldi and Ivan the Terrible. After they were housebroken, one of them started to backslide and returned to a life of sin.  

One day, we found the evidence of wrongdoing in my son’s bedroom.  The situation needed to be addressed, but unless you catch them in the act, how do you know which puppy to admonish?  

I stood outside Randy’s bedroom and called the dogs. Garibaldi bounded toward me in a wiggling mass of puppy joy. Ivan the Terrible hung his head, and, taking the coward’s way out, started slinking off to a remote corner of the house.  

I caught Ivan by the scruff and escorted him to the scene of the crime. We gazed at the evidence before us, and then Ivan and I had a private moment together.  

 

It’s possible, and maybe sometimes desirable, to use fear to correct the behavior of dogs. And people. But fear and the threat of punishment has little value if your primary desire is a relationship. You cant frighten a puppy into wagging its tail and licking your face.   

 

Have you noticed how those with sinful reputations flocked to Jesus? You would expect that, in the presence of a holy man, they would avoid him and slink into the dark shadows.  

Instead, they’re drawn to him like a magnet. A woman with a sinful past comes up behind Jesus as he reclines at a meal. Women in Jesus’ day always wore their hair up in public (except on their wedding day). If a woman let her hair down in public, it meant she was a whore. This woman wets Jesus’ feet with her hot tears, and, with her hair let down, wipes his feet.  

We get it.  

 

This woman cried and kissed his feet and poured out her expensive perfume – not because she was hoping, pleading, for mercy – but because she had found mercy.   

Jesus attracted people with broken lives, because they knew he loved them a lot. They knew he would forgive them, and give them a new start.  

If the world isn’t breaking down church doors to get in, it’s not because they’ve lost interest in being loved by God. It’s because they fear we’re going to sniff out their sin, grab them by the scruff, and rub their noses in it. Trust me on this: they’ve been burned already.  

    

Thirteen years later, I carried Ivan the Terrible up on a hillside and buried him. He was an awesome dog – always glad to see me. He knew where belly rubs came from.  

(copyright 2011 climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

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Story of the Day for Tuesday October 29, 2013 

 

Take the Next Step 

 

                . . . next . . . 

Nehemiah 3:2    

 

 

King Artaxerxes noticed that his cupbearer, Nehemiah, was sad. Nehemiah and his fellow Jews had been exiled from their homeland, and he had just heard reports that the walls of Jerusalem had been torn down and its gates burned.  

So, the king gave Nehemiah a leave of absence to return to his homeland to rebuild the walls and gates of Jerusalem 

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Have you ever been paralyzed by the enormity of the task before you?  The job is so big you don’t know where to start.   

It’s important to see the big picture and know what you want to accomplish. But it’s equally important to focus on the next step.  

 

How did Nehemiah rebuild the walls? He started by gathering the priests and having them build the section from the Tower of the Hundred to the Tower of Hananel. From that point on, the word Nehemiah repeats continuously is “next.” Men from Jericho build the next section. Zaccur, son of Imri, builds next to him. Then he has the goldsmiths build the next section, and the perfume-makers begin work next to them.  

 

Since he was twelve, Marcus Luttrell wanted to become a Navy SEAL. The training, however, is as brutal as it gets. Two thirds of those attempting to become SEALS will voluntarily drop out. In his book, Lone Survivor,Luttrell recalls how one legendary SEAL, Captain Joe Maguire, offered priceless advice. He told them not to let their thoughts run away with them “because you’re worried about the future and how much you can take.” What is the secret of surviving basic training? “Don’t look ahead to the pain,” Maguire advised, “Just get through the day.  

In other words, don’t get overwhelmed with the task. Focus on what comes next.   

Peter, James, and John responded to Jesus’ call to follow him. But, if they could have foreseen all that awaited them over the horizon, they probably would have chosen to spend the rest of their lives mending nets and smelling like fish.  

 

In the summertime, I guide people on wilderness hikes. When I show them the summit of the mountain we plan to climb, the hikers will often nervously inform me that it’s impossible. They can’t climb anything that high.  

I never force them to climb the mountain, but simply invite them to take the next step. By this method, we leave surprisingly few hikers stranded on the mountainside to languish and die.  

 

Nehemiah was not a professional builder. Those he assembled to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem were not professional masons. But the Lord used Nehemiah to accomplish a significant work because he gathered the resources he had, and took the next step.  

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

(image: http://vineyardlifejournal.files.wordpress.com/2012/10/bible-nehemiah.jpg)

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Story of the Day for Monday October 27, 2013 

 

No Need to Slow Down 

 

                   Let the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and the endurance of Christ. 

2 Thessalonians 3:5        

 

 

Jim Marshall was a member of the Minnesota Vikings’ feared “Purple People Eaters” – one of the most intimidating defensive lines in the history of the NFL.  

Defensive linemen average less than five years in the NFL. Yet, Jim Marshall started every game for the Vikings for an eleven year span – a total of 270 games, and retired at the age of 42 

Marshall has earned the right to speak about success. He has played in two Pro Bowls, has 127 quarterback sacks, and holds the NFL record with 30 recovered fumbles.   

 

Jim Marshall has earned respect both on and off the field. He retired from football to become a licensed stock broker, a real estate agent, a life insurance agent, a licensed securities agent, the owner of a limo service, and a CBS sports commentator – to name a few of his business ventures.  

In addition, Jim has volunteered countless hours working with civic and charitable groups. He helped create “Christmas for Kids,” establish a transportation company for the handicapped and elderly, and has helped with scholarship funds to send inner city kids to college. He has done volunteer work with the Special Olympics, The Ronald McDonald House, and The Children’s Miracle Network.  

Jim Marshall is in demand as a motivating speaker for 3M, IBM, Chevron, Standard Oil, Pillsbury, United Way, Boy Scouts of America, among others.  

 

In light of Jim Marshall’s enormous success in so many aspects of life, his message is ironic. He urges his audiences to find a direction and dedicate themselves to it.  

Yet, Marshall is ruefully aware that the most embarrassing play of his football career happened when he followed his own advice. 

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In 1964, a running back for the San Francisco 49ers fumbled and Jim Marshall scooped up the ball. He sprinted for the end zone – he had found his direction and sprinted with all his might. Unfortunately, he ran the wrong direction. His 66-yard safety still stands in the record books as the longest play for negative yardage in NFL history.  

When the season was over, he was scheduled to fly to Dallas to receive the “Bonehead of the Year” award, but missed his flight and ended up in Chicago. (He did, in the end, succeed in flying to Dallas to receive his coveted award.)  

 

Finding a direction and dedicating yourself to it is a fine thing, I suppose, as long as we temper it with Ashley Brilliant’s perspective: “Maybe I’m lucky to be going so slowly, because I may be going in the wrong direction.”  

When we let the Lord direct our hearts, he will lead us into his love and give us the endurance of Christ as our encouragement.  

And, if we’re really heading in that direction, there’s no need to slow down.  

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Story of the Day for Friday October 25, 2013 

 

A  Misuse of the Imagination 

 

                  “Don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow can worry about itself.  Each day has enough troubles of its own.” 

Matthew 6:34    

 

Michael Hodgin tells the story about a woman who was so worried she had an incurable liver condition that she went to see her doctor about it.   

The doctor assured her she was okay. “You wouldn’t know if you had this condition,” he explained, “because it causes no discomfort of any kind.” 

The woman gasped. “Those are my symptoms exactly!” 

 

There’s a road sign outside my hometown which says, “WORRY IS A MISUSE OF THE IMAGINATION.” We can imagine positive things we can accomplish in the world, or we can imagine all kinds of horrible tragedies that might rain down upon us.   

Are you are in the habit of imagining all the things that could possibly go wrong in the future?  If your list of possible nightmares ever reaches an end, it only signifies a lack of creativity of your part – there’s no end to the list of bad things that could conceivably happen to us.   

 

When you find yourself knotted up with anxiety about the future, I think there are some things you need to know. The first is that Jesus doesn’t tell you not to worry because he won’t let bad things happen to you. Bad things will happen to you.   

Jesus wants you to know that he’s walking with you through those times, and he’ll give you everything you need. But the things you need can only be found by faith. Worry is a thief. It robs you of the security which is only found in trust. 

 

Worry is a spectacular waste of time. It’s like a rocking chair: there’s a lot of movement, but we don’t go anywhere. Jesus put it this way, “Who of you by worrying can add a single cubit to his height?”  

Don’t waste your days imagining what might happen tomorrow. God never lets us live a “tomorrow”; we only get to live “today.” 

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Sir Wilfred Grenfell is honored with a feast day in the Episcopal Church (October 9) because of his compassionate missionary work among the poor in Labrador, Canada.   

In April, 1908, he was rushing on his dogsled to perform surgery for a boy.  Taking a shortcut over an ocean bay, he broke through the ice.  He managed to crawl onto an ice flow, which was heading toward open waters.  Alone along a desolate shoreline, he faced the concerns of the present moment – drying his soaking clothing, unraveling rope to make insulation for his boots, and making a signal flag.   

Three days later, he was rescued. His observation captured the wisdom of Jesus’ teaching, “There was nothing to fear. I had done all I could; the rest lay in God’s hands.” 

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

(image: http://www.gutenberg.org/files/32052/32052-h/images/frontis.jpg)

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Story of the Day for Thursday October 24, 2013 

 

Slam Dunks or Chipotle Corn Chips? 

 

                 And he entered with them into the temple walking and jumping and praising God. And all the people who saw him walking and praising God recognized him: “This is the man who used to sit and beg at the Beautiful Gate.” 

Acts 3:8-10    

https://i0.wp.com/snackcetera.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/TostitosArtisanFireRoastedChipotle.jpgHave you ever noticed that when your favorite basketball team is blowing out their opponent by thirty points, you’re glad, but you’re also bored? You stop high-fiving your friends when your team scores on a slam dunk. You stop shouting frantically at the head coach that he needs to double-team Salinsky in the low post.  

Instead, you say, “I went to Speedo Lube last Tuesday and they charged me extra to refill the windshield washer fluid. Hey, ever try these new corn chips? They’re chipotle.”   

 

But what happens when your favorite team is behind, and victory seems out of reach . . . but then the rally starts? And, in the final seconds, when the point guard steals the ball and throws up the buzzer-beater from three-point landto win the game, you go wild and knock the popcorn bowl off the coffee table.  

In both instances, your team won. Why do you react so differently?  

 

Joy comes when you find victory after a time of uncertainty or loss of hope.  

 

At the time of the evening sacrifice, no one was anxious about whether they could successfully walk through the gate to worship God in the temple.   

No one – except one beggar who was lame from birth. This poor man couldn’t get into the temple – not because he was lame, but because he was banned. Jewish laws of ritual purity barred the blind and the lame from entrance into the temple. This lame beggar could only sit by the gate, but was allowed no further.  

 

When Peter, by Jesus’ power, miraculously heals this man, look where the beggar’s feet take him. He doesn’t run home to tell his friends and neighbors; he rushes through the gate. Here he is in the temple for the first time in his life!   

You’ll have to excuse his lack of circumspection in the sanctuary, but this man is bursting with joy, and doesn’t care that he’s creating a ruckus.  

 

Have you ever noticed that those who are new to the faith are more exuberant than a happy puppy? They have known the uncertainty or loss of hope in their relationship with God. And, when they discover the downpour of God’s mercy on them, they can’t contain their joy.   

But, once we get used to the victory Jesus won for us, we start talking about chipotle corn chips.  

 

I don’t think we should ever get used to the grace of God.  

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

(image: http//snackcetera.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/TostitosArtisanFireRoastedChipotle.jpg:)

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Story of the Day for Wednesday October 23, 2013 

 

Sumas Quod Sumas 

 

                     By God’s grace I am who I am. 

1 Corinthians 15:10   

 

James E. Watson writes in his memoirs that he was in President Taft’s private room when Sen. Chauncey Depew walked in. With shocking audacity, Depew put his hand on Taft’s big belly and asked what he planned to name the child when it was born.  

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The President replied, “If it’s a boy, I’ll call him William. If it’s a girl, I’ll call her Theodora.  But if it’s just gas, I’ll call it Chauncey Depew.”  

Taft weighed over 330 pounds, but his easygoing attitude toward his big belly was refreshing. Others felt free to make good-natured jokes about it. Justice Brewer, who sat on the Supreme Court said, “Taft is the politest man in Washington; the other day he gave up his seat in a streetcar to three ladies.” 

I know little about President Taft’s political views or leadership while in the presidency.  But I admire the easy grace with which he accepted himself.  (Yeah, yeah, maybe this was only a “coping mechanism” to mask his feelings of inadequacy. I doubt it. He actually seemed quite comfortable with who he was.)  

 

Let’s face it: very few of us are comfortable with our own bodies. I once heard a man ask a convention of women to raise their hand if they had never wished their butt was smaller or that their breasts were larger. No hands went up.  

Guys, on the other hand, lament the growing hair in their ears and nose that used to be on top of their head.  

 We commonly assume that, if only we were a little taller or shorter, skinnier or better looking, we wouldn’t feel so self-conscious about ourselves, but that’s not true.  Some studies suggest that the women who are most distraught about imperfections in their looks are women contestants in beauty contests.   

No, we are not self-conscious about our appearance because we fall short of the “ideal” body. We are embarrassed about our bodies because our culture is obsessed with physical appearance, and we have bought into cultural expectations that can’t possibly be met.  

Not all cultures put this kind of pressure on people to meet standards of physical appearance. I heard about a man from Africa who came to the United States and was to have a female escort for a social function. Because the African was short, an American acquaintance offered to find him shoes with elevated soles to make him look taller.  The African was baffled, “Why would I want to appear different than I am?”  

 

Can I suggest something?  The answer to our self-consciousness about our appearance may not be a toupee or a padded bra. The better solution is to reject the expectations of a superficial culture.   

I should end this by quoting Scripture instead of Lake Wobegon’s town motto, but their motto does reflect biblical truth: Sumus Quod Sumus.  We are who we are.  

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

(image: http://media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lzp59v7bUK1qzy8r9.jpg)

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