Archive for April, 2015

Story of the Day for Monday April 27, 2015

Breathing Holes

And Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it’s good to be here. Let’s make three tents . . .

Mark 9:5

DSCN9966In October, 1988, an Alaskan Eskimo discovered three gray whales who were drowning. Surrounded by Arctic ice, the whales punched out a small breathing hole, but it was quickly icing over. The Eskimo returned with others who wielded chainsaws and pick axes to cut a series of holes in order to lead the whales back to open water.  The work was exhausting, but their story was picked up by the national news. Soon, oil companies and the military were donating equipment to help free Bonnet, Crossbeak, and Bone – the names given to the three whales. By creating a series of breathing holes, the rescue teams eventually led the whales to open water.

When we are overwhelmed by the pressures of life, have you noticed how we often speak of “drowning”? We need “breathing holes.” If you don’t take regular time to come up for air you will starve your soul of oxygen and other people will notice that your lips are turning blue.

A breathing hole is any way that you can find quiet and refresh your soul. Where you can pray, and ponder, and let God’s love wash over you to cleanse you and heal your wounds.

Those who worked to make breathing holes for the gray whales noticed that the whales were bleeding. The ice on the sides of the hole was so jagged that the whales were cutting themselves when they tried to come up for air. The smallest whale, Bone, eventually tore all the flesh off his snout and died.

Can I ask you something? Is your “breathing hole” jagged around the edges? I have seen people who go to worship or read books for a breath of fresh air, but come away bloodied with guilt. Don’t get me wrong – sometimes, conviction of sin and rebuke are necessary. But remember this: the Good News of Jesus is always exactly that – GOOD news.

Our first priority is to find breathing holes with smooth edges. But, our second priority is to leave them.

The rescuers made a series of breathing holes, but the whales didn’t want to move from the one they were at.

Neither did Peter.  Standing on a high mountain with James and John, he saw Jesus shine with a glory greater than the sun. This moment was so awesome, that Peter wanted to stay, and offered to build shelters up there on the peak.

The shelters were never built. To love and serve a hurting world, they would have to go down the mountain.

Breathing holes are not meant to escape from the hectic demands of life, but to re-enter the fray with a lungful of fresh air.

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

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Story of the Day for Thursay April 23, 2015

Scatter Seed With Reckless Abandon



Whoever plants sparingly will harvest sparingly. But whoever plants generously will also reap generously.

2 Corinthians 9:6

Dr. Earl Pearce tells the story about a “city slicker” who decided to move into the country and start up a hobby farm. He bought a cow to provide his family fresh milk. But soon after he started milking, the cow dried up.

The man shared his misfortune with a neighboring farmer. What was especially troubling to the city slicker was the fact that he did not milk her often. “If I needed a quart, I would only milk her for a quart.” His neighbor had to explain to him that you must fully milk a cow every time. The less you milk it, the less you will get.

We often think that the less we give, the more we will have. I suppose that’s true for some things. But it’s not true for cows, it’s not true for love, and it’s certainly not true for spiritual growth.

Earl Weaver, former manager for the Baltimore Orioles, wrote a book called Weaver On Strategy. His Fifth Law states, “If you play for one run, that’s all you’ll get.” He’s referring to the bunt. He believes you should only bunt if you need just one run to win the game. He claims you’ll be far more successful if you “swing away.”

How would you describe your generosity? Is it a bunt? God promises to bless us lavishly when we are daring enough to “swing away.” The more we plant, God says, the bigger the harvest. Apparently, that is not an easy promise to swallow. The studies show that the average Christian’s giving is only around 3% of his earnings. We haven’t exactly developed a reputation for extravagant generosity.

Do you know the main reason I am not more generous? I honestly believe that, when I buy a new, remote-controlled gizmo for my TV it will bring me more pleasure than using that money to buy a washing machine for this poor widow I know – the one who goes to a laundry mat that sucks quarters out of her pocket like a vacuum cleaner.

Yet, whenever I am seized with an attack of sanity, I remember the wild joy of sharing with someone needier than myself. My remote-controlled gizmo never made me want to dance like this.

Are you nervous about living without the latest “stuff”? Then here’s what you do: find a friend who has the latest gizmo and tell him you would like to borrow it to see how it works. When he asks for it back, tell him you lost it. With the money you save, you can help people in need.

But, if that doesn’t work (and it probably won’t), why don’t you just GO FOR IT? Scatter seed with reckless abandon. Then wait. Seeds grow.

And, try to keep up with Him, but just remember: you’ll never be a more reckless, generous sower than your Lord.

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

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Story of the Day for Wednesday April 22, 2015

Will It Take You 21 Days?

Jesus told them, “I feel as if I could die from sadness. Stay here and keep awake with me.”

Matthew 26:38



When God created the heavens and the earth, he pronounced everything “good.” The first time the Lord says something was “not good” was not after Adam and Eve sinned, but while all the fruit still hung on The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  As God observed his good creation, he declared it was “not good” that the Man should be alone.

Hunger is not a sin – it simply means we lack the food we need to sustain our bodies. Similarly, loneliness is not a sin because God created us to live in community with others, and he made sure Adam would not be lonely. Even Jesus, in the garden of Gethsemane, wanted his closest friends to be near him in his struggle. He didn’t need a sermon; he just wanted them to stay awake with him. To be there.

Loneliness is not caused by a lack of people around us, but by a lack of relationship. This is felt most acutely by empty-nesters, the loss of a spouse, or a move into a strange city. The elderly, because they experience severed relationships, often suffer from loneliness. Yet, oddly enough, Dr. Joseph Hartog, an expert in the study of loneliness, says the loneliest age group of all is high school youth. Kids are surrounded by others, but relationships can be precarious and heartbreaking.

Yet, while loneliness is a lack of a God-given need, we can sometimes create the conditions that deepen our aloneness. Many attempts to relieve loneliness only make matters worse.

If you meet a lonely person, what do they do? They talk your ear off, right? They jabber so incessantly that you struggle to wedge a single sentence into the conversation. Yet, ironically, those who dominate the conversation will always remain lonely.

The cure for loneliness isn’t simply finding a victim to be a listening ear, because we still haven’t established a relationship. A relationship involves talking AND listening. Receiving AND giving.

The story is told that the famous psychologist, Alfred Adler, once claimed he could cure anyone of emotional difficulties in two weeks – if they followed his prescription.

A desperately lonely woman came to Adler’s office. She was doubtful Adler could cure her loneliness, but asked, “What do you want me to do?”

“If you will do something for someone else every day for fourteen days,” Adler replied, “at the end of the time, your loneliness will be gone.”

The woman objected, “Why should I do anything for someone else? No one ever does anything for me.”

Adler is said to have responded, “Well, maybe it will take you twenty-one days.”

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

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Story of the Day for Tuesday April 21, 2015

Too Busy To Listen


Shouting in a loud voice and covering their ears, they rushed together at him and dragging him out of the city they stoned him.

Acts 7:57-58

We were up on Still Peak above our house when my brother-in-law hushed us and said, “Do you hear that?”

We are stopped jabbering and listened.

“I don’t hear anything.”

“Exactly,” said Sean, “you can’t hear a single thing.”

He was right. No cars or machinery. No dogs. No wind.

Silence is odd to us because we seldom experience it. We live in a noisy world. All the same, we rarely make much of an effort to get away from the racket.

Do you find it a struggle to take time for quiet reflection? Why is that? Yeah, you’re really busy. But do you think there might be a deeper reason?

I ask because I’ve discovered you can drown out the voice of God by noise. Sometimes, the Holy Spirit speaks in a still, small voice. And our conscience is an avid talker, but only speaks in a whisper. TVs and radios can easily overpower that voice we need to hear.

When Stephen was arraigned before the Jewish high court on charges of blasphemy, he gave a lengthy recitation of God’s coming to their forefathers, and their rejection of the Lord’s graciousness to them.

Things got tense when Stephen came to his point: “You stiff-necked people with uncircumcised hearts and ears!” He told them,

in other words, that they were not listening to God, but were resisting the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit, in fact, was speaking to the high council at that very moment – through the words of Stephen. And how did they respond? They drowned out his voice by shouting him down and covering their ears.

My friend, Ruth, was riding with a woman who chauffeured a van load of kids. Ruth noticed the transmission was making a funny noise. She asked, “You think you ought to get that fixed?”

The woman grinned at Ruth and said, “This is how I fix it,” and immediately turned on the radio until you could no longer hear the noise from the transmission.

Are you taking time for quiet? When we are silent before the Lord, we may realize that some things need to be fixed. But that’s a good thing. Whether we need to make changes, or find forgiveness, or comfort, or inspiration, God will speak a good word to us when we are quiet enough to listen.

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

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Story of the Day for Monday April 20, 2015

A Little More Vibrato

Tell them not to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which only end in speculation instead of God’s work, which is done by faith.

1 Timothy 1:3-4

IMG_9830Every year our family hosts an open house. My wife cooks mountains of food, but holds the family under the inflexible rule that we can’t scarf down all the food before the party. This, obviously, places us under an undue hardship. And so, as my daughter, Elly, and I savor the aroma of baked cookies fresh from the oven, we decide the time has come to undo the injustices we have suffered.

We hatch a plan, which revolves around the standard magician’s trick of misdirection. While I occupy my wife’s attention in the living room, Elly will sneak into the kitchen, make the heist, and then we will retire to a private corner of the house to enjoy our bounty.

In the living room, I hold my wife spellbound by singing “Crazy” by Patsy Cline. The key to making this song memorable (as my sister taught me) is to sing it like Elmer Fudd, and then to pinch the skin over your Adam’s apple — jiggling it to create a vibrato.

“Cwaa-zy, I’m cwazy fo’ feewin’ so wone-wee . . .”

My wife rolls her eyes and heaves a big sigh. This song always gets to her.

“Cwaa-zy, cwazy fo’ feewin’ so bwue . . .”

When the Nazis overran France in World War II, French resistance fighters continued to oppose Hitler, but they were forced to live in hiding.

In 1943, they decided to come out of hiding and celebrate Armistice Day in the town of Oyonnax. The French holiday, which observes the Allied victory over Germany in World War I, was banned by the Nazis — who were not amused to find posters plastered throughout the town of Nantua, announcing a demonstration on Armistice Day.

On the morning of November 11th, the police from Oyonnax flocked to the neighboring town of Nantua to help authorities arrest the demonstrators.

Once the police left Oyannax, French freedom fighters swept down from their hillside hideouts and easily captured the police station. After shutting down the telephone system and blocking all traffic coming in or out of town, the cheering and weeping citizens welcomed the freedom fighters as they presented a floral cross of Lorraine to “the victors of yesterday from those of tomorrow.” After leading the citizens in a rousing rendition of the “Marseillaise,” the freedom fighters disappeared again into the hills.

The Bible says we can get misdirected from doing what God would have us do. We get embroiled in debates that just aren’t that important and neglect to focus on what we should be doing. The goal is our life in Jesus; a life of faith and love.

I do wish, however, my wife could be more easily diverted from preserving her baked goods for parties. We got nabbed before we could enjoy the fruits of our labor.

Next time, I think a little more vibrato will do the trick.

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

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Story of the Day for Friday April 17, 2015

“How to Fall Off a Cliff”



Throw all your worries on God, because he cares about you.

1 Peter 5:7

It was a dark and stormy night. The man’s candle lantern blew out, and now he made his way in the inky blackness along the dirt road to the nearest farmhouse.

In the darkness he wandered off the road and stumbled over a cliff. As he fell he grabbed hold of a branch jutting out from the side of the cliff. He shouted for help, but his cries were not answered. Steadily, his arms began to weaken. When he could no longer hold on, he let out a groan, and fell . . . six inches to the bottom of the ditch.

That man was terrified as he hung from the branch. But his fear was due to lack of knowledge. Had he had known he was only six inches from the ditch he would have no trouble letting go.

That raises an intriguing question: how much of our anxiety is based on a lack of knowledge? If you think about it, just about all our anxiety is based on our lack of knowledge.

“That’s great, Uncle Marty. Unfortunately, I already know my anxiety is based on my lack of knowledge, but I can’t do anything to change it! I don’t know how the stock market is going to do next week, or how effective the chemo treatments are going to work, or whether Thelma will still like me after I accidentally ran over her cat.”

Maybe this will help. Steve Brown, in a teaching called, Walking Free, talked about those dreaded threats we all remember. His grade school teacher warned the class that, if they didn’t behave, they would be sent to the principal’s office.

The dreaded day arrived when Steve Brown could no longer be good. As he made his way to the principal’s office, he reflected on his life’s end.

When he sat before the principal, he said, “You’re having trouble, aren’t you Stephen?”


“You don’t like that teacher very much, do you?”

“Uh . . . no sir, not much.”

And then the principal said, “I don’t either.” They laughed together. And then Stephen realized that all the rumors about the principal were untrue. He wasn’t the stern authority figure that other people said he was.

The principal told Steve, “I want you to come down and meet me in my office, and I’ll get you out before the bus leaves so you can get home on time.” They became friends.

You don’t have to know God’s plan for your future in order to get rid of anxiety. All you really need to know is that your Father cares about you. And that he’s your friend.

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

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Story of the Day for Thursday April 16, 2015

A Monomaniac With a Mission

Don’t slow down, but be active in spirit – serving the Lord.

Romans 12:11

Peter Drucker, a highly esteemed guru in the business world, observed, “Whenever anything is being accomplished, it is being done, I have learned, by a monomaniac with a mission.”

“Monomaniacs with a mission” are passionate people. They radiate enthusiasm. They know where they want to go, and are single-minded in pursuit of their goals.

When I am spiritually discouraged, it is almost always because I have slammed into roadblocks. Here I am, nobly offering my life to the service of the Lord, and what does he do? He puts one obstacle after another in my way.

You don’t think he does it for a reason, do you?

Maybe so.



The 1904 summer Olympics were being held in St. Louis, and a poor, Cuban mailman, Felix Carvajel decided to enter the marathon. The Cuban Olympic Committee, however, would not sponsor him. Felix would have to raise the money on his own. He would run in circles in Havana’s central plaza and beg for money from onlookers. Carvajal finally raised enough money to board a tramp steamer bound for New Orleans.

In New Orleans, he lost the remainder of his money to swindlers in a dice game. But don’t spend your day worrying about Felix. He started running from New Orleans to St. Louis. He bummed rides and food where he could.

On the day of the marathon, the temperature and the humidity were over 90. Felix, unacquainted with racing attire, showed up in long woolen pants, a long linen shirt, high-top boots, and a felt hat. A sympathetic American discus thrower cut his pants off below the knee before the starting gun sounded.

The race was so grueling that only 14 of the 32 starters would finish. Felix was running well, but hadn’t eaten all day. When he saw an apple orchard, he stopped and gorged himself on green apples. Near the finish, he got sick.

Despite the fact that Felix’s rivals had their coaches giving them sponge baths, food, and water (the only water offered on the course was at the 12 mile marker), despite the fact that the first-place finisher was actually assisted across the finish line by two coaches, Carvajal still managed to finish fourth.

Despite overwhelming obstacles, Felix kept going.

Don’t be discouraged by the difficulties you’re facing. Let ‘er rip, don’t give up, and serve the Lord.

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

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