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Archive for February, 2014


Story of the Day for Friday February 28, 2014 

 

No More Spit in Soup 

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                    Do not repay anyone evil for evil . . . “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he’s thirsty, give him something to drink.”  

Romans 12:17, 20     

 

Ray Stedman recalled a story that took place during the Korean War. Some officers rented a house and hired a Korean boy to cook and do housework for them. He was a cheerful, good-natured young man, and the soldiers soon had a lot of fun playing practical jokes on him.  

They would nail his shoes to the floor or balance a pail of water on the door so that when he opened it, the water would come splashing down on him.  

But no matter how many tricks they played on him, he always took it with good humor.   

The soldiers eventually started feeling bad about the mean tricks they were playing and sat down one day with the Korean boy.  

“We’ve been doing all these mean things to you and you’ve taken it so nicely. We just want to apologize to you and tell you that we are never going to do those things again.” 

“You mean no more nail shoes to floor?”  

“No more,” they assured him. 

“You mean no more water on door?” 

“No more.”  

“Okay, then,” he said, “no more spit in soup.”  

 

Isn’t retaliation wonderful? It gets us through the tough times in life by giving us the satisfaction of knowing we have evened the score.  

We enjoy “pay back time.”  If we didn’t, Hollywood would go belly up, because “getting even” is a major theme of movies.  

The logic of retaliation is to “fight fire with fire.” But, if you fight fire with fire, what do you have more of? You have more fire.  

If you fight evil with evil, what do you have more of?  

 

Jesus came up with a wild, radical notion. He thinks you should fight fire with water.  You fight evil with love.   

Dr. J. Stuart Holden conducted worship services for the British Highland Regiment. While in Egypt, a sergeant told him how he became a believer.  

“A private became a Christian while we were in Malta,” the sergeant told Holden. One night, the private came in exhausted, but took the time to kneel outside his tent to pray.  

Annoyed by this, the sergeant said he took off his muddy boots and slapped the soldier on the side of the head. But he just went on praying.  

The next morning the sergeant awoke to find his boots by his tent, cleaned and polished.  

“That,” the sergeant said, “was his reply to me . . . I was saved that day.”  

(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

(image: http://knitspot.com/wp-content/uploads/dailies_2009/soupA02_19.jpg)

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Story of the Day for Thursday February 27, 2014 

 

The Snob 

 

                 And to those who tried to assure themselves they were righteous and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this story . . . 

Luke 18:9       

 

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When I was in third grade we learned a song called “Little Robin Redbreast.” It’s a chirpy number that recounts the epic conflict of wills between a robin and a pussycat.    

After we learned the song our teacher gave everyone a sheet a paper with a robin on it and we got our crayons out to color it in.  

This was my favorite time of the day. I loved art. Whenever my mind wandered during other classes, which was just about all the time, I would draw dinosaurs or football players or soldiers blowing things up. 

But, as we colored in our robins, events took a disturbing turn.  

 

Kids are busybodies and like to check up on each other’s progress, and as I looked at my classmates, I was horrified. Oblivious to reality, they were actually coloring the robin’s breast red! A robin’s breast isn’t red – it’s burnt-orange. Granted, we didn’t have burnt-orange in our arsenal of crayons back then, but at the very least, orange would be the better choice. And, if you take a brown crayon, you can lightly feather it over top of the orange for a pleasing effect.  

I knew, however, exactly why they were coloring their robin’s breast red. They had been manipulated by a stupid song. And why? Because some two-bit poet lacked the literary skill to compose a song called, “Little Robin Burnt-Orange Breast.”  

Nevertheless, the song, didn’t account for why Ronnie chose to color the rest of his robin’s body black. It didn’t even look like a robin; it looked like a raven hugging the top of a traffic light.  

 

My classmates had no idea they were under covert investigation by the Color Police. They just colored away and were happy to be alive while I glumly brooded over their lack of aesthetic rigor.  

 

As I look back on those days, I realize I was an art snob before I even knew what an art snob was. Snobbery has nothing to do with striving for excellence, nor even with thinking you can do something better than others. Snobbery is a dark smugness that enjoys feeling superior to others.    

Spiritual snobbery is especially distasteful and dangerous. The Pharisees validated their lives by feeling holier than the common rabble. By seeking to be superior, they were silently acknowledging their secret insecurity in their relationship with God.   

Once we know the mercy of Jesus, we enter into a secure relationship with God. He frees us from the desperate need to be holier or “righter” than others . . . or better able to draw robins  

 

But RED, for Pete’s sake! I still can’t believe it. 

(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

(image: https://kaarre.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/b0d62-american_robin.jpg)

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Story of the Day for Wednesday February 26, 2014 

 

Willing to Bow 

 

                  I am free, but I make myself a servant of everyone, in order that I might win more. 

                                                                   1 Corinthians 9:19      

 

When he died in October of 2001, his funeral brought together politicians from both sides of the aisle. Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton sat next to Republican Kay Bailey Hutchinson. Ted Kennedy attended along with Jesse Helms. He was loved by both Democrats and Republicans alike because, though he served as Senate Majority Leader longer than anyone in history, though he was one of the most powerful politicians in Washington, he always treated everyone with kindness. He was a servant.  

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In April1981, Mansfield was serving as Ambassador to Japan, under Ronald Reagan.  A U.S. nuclear submarine, the USS George Washington accidentally rammed a Japanese freighter, the Nissho Maru. To make matters worse, the American vessel did not stay on the scene to attend to the dead and wounded, but disappeared.  

The submarine was under orders not to disclose its location, but this act created outrage among the Japanese.  

Mansfield was in the center of the controversy. He demanded a full report from the U.S. .Navy, and delivered it, in person, to Japan’s Foreign Minister, SunaoSonoda 

As Charles Ferris recounted the incident, he said that Mansfield requested the cameras remain on him after their greeting. This was an odd request because Mansfield never enjoyed being in the limelight. But he knew what he was doing.  

As the cameras were allowed to remain on, Mansfield bowed deeply from the waist before giving the report to the Foreign Minister. He knew Japanese culture well. A deep bow expresses the depth and sincerity of an apology.  

Mansfield’s biographer, Don Oberdorfer writes,“That five seconds was played and replayed on Japan’s TV stations many times over . . .” The political issue was defused by a public act of regret and humility.  

 

The apostle Paul was a free man. Yet, he used his freedom to become a servant to everyone. He didn’t have to position himself below others, but he chose to because he wanted others to know the life of Christ.   

What do you think?Do non-Christians today feel as if the Christians they know all stoop down to serve them? Or do they feel as if they’re being hammered by churchgoers who loom over them and swing the Truth like a weapon?  

  

The Japanese still speak fondly of Mansfield. Before he died he was awarded the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun – the highest honor Japan can bestow on a civilian.  

They never forgot the man who was willing to bow.  

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

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Story of the Day for Tuesday February 25, 2014 

 

Working at Happiness 

 

                 It is God’s gift that everyone would see good in all his labor. 

Ecclesiastes 3:13    

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A Chinese proverb says, “If you want to be happy for an hour, get drunk. If you want to be happy for three days, get married. If you want to be happy for eight days, kill your pig and eat it. If you want to be happy forever, learn to fish.  

Now, — don’t even think it – I’m not advocating getting drunk, and my wife and I have shared 28 years together, and we’re still on our honeymoon. Last month, we butchered our pigs, and I’ve been happy about that for several weeks.    

 

We want to commend, however, the wisdom of the Chinese in seeing the vital connection between work and happiness.  Researchers at Gothenburg University in Sweden published their findings that people are made happy by working toward a goal (not the attainment, but the striving).   

And this is where things get bollixed up. We tend to focus on the money (i.e., the “attainment”) as the source of happiness, when it is really the striving (i.e., the work) that brings fulfillment.  

 

We are made in the image of God. As God creates, so he has made us to create – to be creative.  Work really is meant to be satisfying.   

One of the most respected studies on job satisfaction was done a few years ago at the University of Chicago.  The school’s National Opinion Research Center found little correlation between job satisfaction and money. Nor is there a link between job satisfaction and time for leisure (two or the top three happiest professions work over 50 hours a week).   

What makes a job satisfying? Helping other people, being creative, and using special talents and expertise.   

Want to know the profession that produces the greatest job satisfaction? (Are you ready for this?) Pastors.  They are followed by physical therapists, firefighters, school principals, artists, teachers, authors, psychologists, and special education teachers.  

Beside the school principals and psychologists, the pay is average.  But when we  are active in helping and using our God-given creativity, we are the happiest in our work.   

 

The point of all this, however, is not that you need the right job to find fulfillment. What you need is the right attitude.  Figure out how your work serves others. Be creative. And recognize the uniqueness of the talents God gave you.  

 

Final note: Although the University of Chicago doesn’t consider this an “occupation,” I believe the most satisfying job involves long hours and no pay. The occupation is called: “being a mom.”  

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

(image: http://www.truenaturewellness.com/gallery/teamwork.jpg)

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Story of the Day for Monday February 24, 2014 

 

What Music Can You Play on a Broken Stradivarius? 

 

                And the God of all grace . . . will restore, establish, strengthen, and set you on a firm foundation. 

1 Peter 5:10     

 

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Peter Cropper, from Sheffield, England, is a distinguished violinist. He is so good, he was asked to perform at the prestigious Kuhmo Music Festival in Finland 

The Royal Academy of Music in London honored him by loaning him the use of a priceless Stradivarius violin. The violin, made by Antonio Stradivari was 258 years old and was made in his “Golden period. It was considered one of the most valuable violins in the world.  

 

On the night of the festival, Mr. Cropper hurried on stage and tripped on an extension cord. He fell on the Stradivarius and broke the neck completely off.  

Peter was inconsolable.  

 

Charles Beare offered to repair the violin. The RoyalAcademy thanked Beare for his gracious offer, but assured him a broken Strad could never be repaired. But Cropper urged the Academy to see what Beare could do, and they finally relented and handed the violin over to Beare. 

Beare spent endless hours trying to repair the broken neck and a cracked bass bar with animal glue. After a month he presented the violin to the Academy. With Cropper in attendance they looked in astonishment – they could not find the slightest sign that the violin had ever been damaged.  

Not only did the restored violin look impeccable, but Cropper said, “. . . the violin is now in better shape than ever, producing a much more resonant tone.” That next week he performed with the Lindsay Quartet in Carnegie Hall, playing the restored Stradivarius.  

 

We all fail in life.  

So, what does God think about us when we botch things up? We know that He cares deeply about behaving the right way, so it stands to reason He is furious when we do wrong.  

Yes, God does care deeply about living rightly, because living wrongly creates so much pain to ourselves and others. But He’s the God of grace.  

Jesus never walked the streets with a clipboard sifting out the rejects and patting the righteous on the head. If Jesus only approved of those who never failed in life, there would be no heads to pat.  

 

Never write the chapter of your failures as the last chapter of your story. The Lord, as a master craftsman, always offers to take the broken pieces of your heart, and restore you.  

And make you stronger than before.  

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

(image: http://chamberstudio.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/Peter-Cropper-BW3.jpg)

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Story of the Day for Friday February 21, 2014 

 

No Matter How Small 

 

                 Jesus said, “What is the kingdom of God like? . . . It’s like a mustard seed which, when you plant it, is the smallest of all the seeds in the ground.” 

Mark 4:30-31    

 

In ancient times, Mesopotamia was considered the most advanced civilization on earth. What better place to be if you wanted to have a significant impact on the ancient world.   

But when God called Abram, he told him to leave this advanced civilization and retreat to a lonely, desolate land where he could carve out a living as a wandering nomad. So much for significant world impact, right? 

The Lord wanted to create a family that could be called God’s children – a family greater than the stars you can count in the night sky. And how does God bring about this staggering multitude? He tells Abram and Sarai to go and make a baby.  

When your objective is to create staggering multitudes, it just seems that Abram’s contribution didn’t get things off to a rousing start. But that is how God’s kingdom works. You start with the little things – things as tiny as mustard seeds.  

 

https://i0.wp.com/www.ywgrossman.com/photoblog/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/Helen_Keller243.jpgCommon sense tells us that, if you want to be fabulously wealthy, you should sell products that yield enormous profits – like skyscrapers, or Boeing 747s, or tickets to a Packer game.  

But Ray Kroc chose to make a profit of only a few pennies on his products. He started selling hamburgers in 1955 for fifteen cents. He called his restaurant: McDonald’s. Apparently, pennies do add up because Ray’s widow gave a gift from the profits of those hamburgers to the Salvation Army – a gift of BILLION dollars 

 

A woman once said, “I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks as if they were great and noble.”  

Thesmall tasks” this woman sought to accomplish were smaller than you might think. She was both blind and deaf. At the age of seven, she first learned what a “word” was. When the rest of us have reached the age when we can speak fluently, she was learning how to speak audibly. Her small task was to learn to pronounce a word that she would never be able to hear. 

But, through her small tasks, Helen Keller became one of the most popular authors of her age. She was invited to the White House by every president from Grover Cleveland to Lyndon Johnson. She earned a Bachelor of Artsdegree from RadcliffeCollege (graduating cum laude). And she was awarded the country’s highest honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.  

Keller summarized her life by saying, “I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do.”  

No matter how small.  

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

(image: http://www.ywgrossman.com/photoblog/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/Helen_Keller243.jpg)

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Story of the Day for Thursday February 20, 2014 

 

The Path Worn Down 

 

                  Thus says the Lord, “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is, and walk in it. And you will find rest for your souls.” 

Jeremiah 6:16      

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There probably never has been, nor ever will be, a more magnificent city on this earth than ancient Rome. Their sculptures, artwork, arches, and buildings were stunning.  

Then the barbarian hordes swept down from the north and looted and destroyed the city. At least, that is how I remember it.  

Archeologist, Rodolfo Lanciani, however, tells us that Alaric destroyed the palace of Sallust and Geneseric took down the bronze roof of the temple of Jupiter Capitolinus. Yet, other than minor damage, they didn’t destroy the priceless structures in Rome. Do you know who was primarily responsible for tearing down the city? The Romans themselves.  

 

The basilica in Rome, 1200 years old, was the oldest and largest cathedral in Christendom. They tore it down to build a modern building.  

Michelangelo carved the equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius on the Capitol, but he swiped one of the columns of the ancient temple of Castor and Pollux to do so. Material for the columns in the Sistine Chapel was robbed from Hadrian’s mausoleum. Marvelous ancient marble statues were pulled down and pulverized to provide lime so that Renaissance artists could have a convenient source of plaster.  Painters would plaster over old masterpieces so that they could create contemporary works of art.  

 

I’m not opposed to change or modern things or newness. I’m not writing this story by dipping a turkey quill into a bottle of ink.  We buy milk from the Sturdevants, which comes straight from their cows. Given the choice between a fresh glass of local milk or discovering a milk jug in the back of the frig that is four months old . . .  

 

Technology is improving electronic gizmos at a breathtaking pace. Yet, because of the technological explosion in our society, we face a greater struggle to understand a truth that other generations more easily understood.  

Some things, like technology keep improving. But, other things do not. Trusting in God, kindness, honesty, and love never become outdated.  

In our fast-paced technological society, “old” means “out-dated.”  As a result, we are far more likely to dismiss God and morality as relics of the past, and to plaster over them. 

 

At a crossroad, you have options. You can choose which path to take. God told his prophet Jeremiah to tell the people to examine their options, and to choose the ancient path. The Lord said the path worn down by past ages of believers was the good way. 

He wasn’t talking about electronicsHe was talking about a way of living that refreshed the soul 

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

(image: http://www.bestourism.com/img/items/big/829/Roman-Forum_Roman-ruins_6587.jpg)

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Story of the Day for Wednesday February 19, 2014 

 

Very Cheerfully 

 

 

                Jesus said to the disciples, “Let’s go back to Judea.” His disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews are trying to stone you to death, and you want to go back there?” 

John 11:7-8    

 

Lewis and Clark faced a dilemma. As the Corps of Discovery headed up the Missouri River, they came to a fork. The expedition was way behind schedule. If they took the wrong fork, they would not be able to cross the mountains before winter and the expedition would be forced to turn back.  

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The men unanimously agreed the muddy northern river was the correct fork to take. Up to this point, after all, the Missouri River had the same muddy color. But Lewis and Clark disagreed. They reasoned that the Missouri should eventually be getting clear if it flowed from the mountains. Meriwether Lewis tried to convince the men that the south fork was the true Missouri, but still the entire party, to a man, disagreed.  

Lewis and Clark held firm and announced they were going to take the south fork. 

Despite the crews disagreement, they all said they were ready to “very cheerfully” follow wherever their leaders chose to take them. After the co-captains announced their decision, the men passed the evening in dancing and singing. Lewis recorded in his journal that the men were “extremely cheerful.”  

Oh, and, by the way, Lewis and Clark were right. The south fork was the Missouri 

 

Why do people follow a leader? Some leaders force others to follow against their will. The Corps of Discovery, however, could easily have mutinied had they felt they were being forcibly led to their own destruction. 

People will willingly follow a good leader. Some choose to follow a leader because they are convinced the leader knows the best way to go. Yet, the Corps of Discovery clearly believed their leaders did not know the proper way to go.  

The greatest leaders are those you will follow – even when you don’t agree with their decisions. You follow – not because you understand your leader, but because you trust him.  

 

When word came to Jesus that his friend, Lazarus, was dying, he told his disciples they were going to Judea. His disciples helpfully pointed out that the Jews in Judea were trying to murder him. Jesus, however, ignored the threat and invited his disciples to go with him. Thomas then said to the rest, “Let’s go too, that we may die with him.”  

Jesus’ disciples followed him – not because he forced them against his will, and not because he convinced them it was a good idea. They didn’t understand him; they simply trusted him, and were willing to follow him anywhere. 

 

Jesus will not force you to follow him. And, sometimes, you will be convinced that doing things his way is not the best way to go. The day will inevitably come when you will be called to follow him simply because you have learned to trust him.  

And to follow “very cheerfully.”  

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Story of the Day for Tuesday February 18, 2014 

 

God Is Going to Blow It Up 

 

                ”No one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will tear the skins and both the wine and the wineskins will be lost. Put new wine into new wineskins.” 

Mark 2:22     

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In 1908, Henry Ford developed the Model T.  It was the only car the Ford Motor Company made and it sold like hotcakes. In just a few years, half of all the cars on the road were Model Ts.  

But it only came in one color. In 1909, Henry Ford said, “Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is black.”  

Ford’s ace production man, William Knudsen, foresaw that the company needed to improve to keep pace with the competition. So, when Ford took his family on a trip to Europe in 1912, Knudsen prepared a new sleek prototype with four doors and shiny red lacquer-work.  

When Ford was shown the prototype, he walked around the car three or four times with his hands in his pockets, and then he grabbed the driver’s side door and ripped it off! He proceeded to pop out the windshield and destroy the car.  The message was clear: don’t mess with my “baby.” 

Ford fired Knudsen, who went to General Motors.  

But, General Motors kept improving their cars. They had more power, electric starters, and, of course, a choice of colors. But Henry stuck to his Model T. Not until 1927 did Henry, grudgingly, decide to develop a new car: the Model A.  

But it was too late. The Ford Motor Company dipped from 50 percent market share to only 28 percent by 1931. For the rest of his life, Henry Ford would have to be content with second place in the auto industry.  

  

As wine ferments, it expands. The ancient Jews could not put new wine in clay jars because the growing pressure would shatter them. So, they preferred using the skins of young goats. They would sew up all the holes and pour the new wine into them. As the wine fermented the wineskins would expand like a balloon, but not break.  

The wineskins became useless for holding fermenting wine, however, once they became hardened and rigid. If you poured wine into them, they were no longer flexible enough to expand; they would simply crack and now you’ve lost both your wineskin and your wine.  

 

When we become rigid in our methods, when we insist that our way is the only way, stand back, because God is going to blow it up. Truth doesn’t change, but the power of the Good News is always expanding. You can’t keep a lid on it.  

Jesus’ New Wine is like exploration. Thomas Jefferson made thorough and extensive plans for Lewis and Clark’s expedition. But once their journey rounded the first unexplored bend in the river, rigid plans could only hurt them. From that point on, they needed only to know their goal, and how to be flexible enough to deal with each new adventure they encountered. 

(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

(image: http://salvationlinks.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/AAAA1912-ford-model-t.jpg)

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Story of the Day for Monday February 17, 2014 

 

Rumba and the Bird Brain 

 

                You will be driven away from people and will live with the beasts of the field, and will eat grass like cattle. 

Daniel 4:32      

 

Our friend, Val, is an animal lover, and is always taking in abused pets. Beside her ponies, donkey, and a blind horse, she has a herd of happy dogs, two parrots, and a cockatoo, named Rumba.  

Rumba is a mischievous bird. If she hears me walking in the hallway, she calls out, “Hey you! . . . What’s your name?”  Before I know it, I’m standing in front of her cage and having a conversation with a birdbrain. (Or is it the other way ‘round?)  

Cockatoos have an uncanny sense of rhythm, and, while I’m quite self-conscious about dancing, pretty soon she’s bobbing her head, and then I’m bobbing my head, and one thing leads to another . . .https://i1.wp.com/seattletimes.com/ABPub/2009/04/30/2009154042.jpg

Soon, we’re both swaying and jiving, and I’m yelling, “Oh yeah!” and “Whoo, baby!” As long as no one’s watching, dancing with a cockatoo is a hoot.   

But, if you’re self-conscious about dancing, you should always shut the door first. It wasn’t until we were on our way home that my wife told me that she and Val heard the commotion and watched me strutting my stuff.  

Oh great — so much for maintaining the reserved dignity with which I like to carry myself.  

 

Dignity is a good thing and I commend it for your consideration. But it also carries its hazards. When we assume a dignified pose, it is very difficult to avoid the notion that we are, in some way, superior to others. Honor is a breeding swamp for pride.  

 

King Nebuchadnezzar was a powerful king, and there’s no shame in that, because someone’s got to do it. But his exalted status led him to become enamored with his own importance, so God turned him into a cow.  No one laughs at cows for grazing in a field because cows have no sense of self-importance. But when a king gets down on his hands and knees and eats like a cow, it can go a long way in correcting an overinflated ego.   

 

Vince Lombardi was at his football office when his wife called to tell him she had invited two Catholic priests to dinner.  

In order to have an undisturbed conversation after dinner, the Lombard is put their four-year-old daughter, Susan, to bed.  

As the four chatted after dinner with coffee and brandy, little Susan marched into the room – her nightgown sopping wet from her armpits down. She walked up to the two Reverend Fathers, pointed her finger under one nose and then under the nose of the other Father and said, “Either you or you left the seat up, and I fell in!”  

 

The loftier our pose, the more humbling it will be in the cattle field.  

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

(image: http://seattletimes.com/ABPub/2009/04/30/2009154042.jpg)

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