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Archive for June, 2015

Back In the Game


Story of the Day for Tuesday June 30, 2015

Back In the Game

Pharaoh…tried to kill Moses, but Moses fled from Pharaoh and lived in Midian.

Exodus 2:15

Mike Veeck made history with his “Disco Demolition Day,” but he wishes he hadn’t. As head of promotions for the Chicago White Sox, Mike Veeck invited fans to bring a disco recording to be blown up at Comiskey Park between a double header.

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Thursday nights usually brought in only a smattering of fans, but on July 12, 1979, Veeck planned on a crowd of 35,000. Yet, even he had no idea how many youth were sick of disco. The stadium overflowed with 50,000 fans, and another 20-30,000 still pouring in at the ticket gates. Police had to close the freeway exit to the stadium.

The crate of records scheduled for demolition filled so fast the stadium staff could accept no more. Suddenly, thousands of kids, still clutching their LPs, realized they looked a lot like frisbees.

The crate of disco records was dynamited in the outfield. None of the planners realized, however, that it might also blow a hole in the playing field.

Meanwhile, Veeck was concerned the fans outside would crash the gates and ordered half of his security workers outside. As soon as he did, the fans inside realized there was nothing standing between them and a party. Thousands of youth stormed the ball field. They dug up the bases and pitcher’s mound. They tore apart the batting cage while others set images of John Travolta on fire.

Riot control police were called in and eventually restored order. But for only the fourth time in major league history, a baseball game was forfeited and the White Sox lost without taking the field.

Mike Veeck, the genius behind this harebrained fiasco, was fired. Blacklisted by all the other ball clubs, Veeck spiraled into a tailspin. He began drinking heavily. His wife divorced him.

Ten years later, Marv Goldklang made a concerted search for Veeck, and found him in Florida, where he worked hanging sheet rock.

Goldklang realized Mike Veeck knew how to fill empty seats at a ballpark, so he hired him to work in the minor leagues. Veeck went to work for the St. Paul Saints and sold out every game for the season. His magic soon spread to every ball club he worked with. Today, he is recognized as the greatest promoter the game of baseball has ever seen.

Moses was raised in a palace by Pharaoh’s daughter. But one day he murdered a man and when Pharaoh found out, he sought to kill him. Moses fled from Pharaoh’s palace to a barren wilderness, where he scratched out a living herding sheep.

Banishment seems a fitting end for the authors of murder and “Disco Demolition Day.” But the Lord has the careless habit of finding those who have failed greatly, and not only forgiving them, but restoring them for service.

Some people scream at God because they think his actions are too harsh, but most are scandalized in finding a God who is far too kind — a God who wants to see those who failed get back in the game.

(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)
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A Costly Victory


Story of the Day for Monday June 29, 2015

A Costly Victory

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Make sure that no one is lacking in God’s grace and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble . . .

Hebrews 12:15

Sometimes winning is worse than losing.

I knew this guy, whom I’ll call Romiere, who confided to me that he used to be a con man. He shared some of his secrets in swindling people, which I won’t divulge because . . . well, just because. But, since one of his tricks so was so ingenious (and not strictly illegal), I’ll share it with you as long as you promise not to tell anyone else.

Romiere would walk into a tavern, sit next to a stranger at the bar, and strike up a friendly conversation. Then my ex-con man friend would take off his hat, cover the guy’s drink. “Bet you a quarter I can drink your whiskey without moving my hat.”

“No way; you’re on.”

As soon as the guy took the bet, Romiere would lift his hat, slug down the guy’s whiskey, and say, “You’re right – I couldn’t do it. You win the bet.”

Romiere smiled and said, “I would lose the bet, but it usually took the guy a while to realize I just took his drink for a quarter.”

Have you ever heard of a Pyrrhic victory? Around 280 B.C., Pyhhrus was king of Epirus (which was between modern-day Albania and Greece). He fought the Roman army at Heraclea and Asculum and won both battles.

Even though Pyhhrus was victorious in battle, his tiny country sustained enormous losses. The Romans lost more soldiers in the battles, but they could easily replenish their military strength. When one man congratulated King Pyhhrus on his victories, the king replied that one more such victory would utterly destroy him.

In a Pyrhhic victory, you win – but your victory is so costly, you would have been better off if you had not succeeded.

Getting revenge is a Pyrrhic victory. Even if we retaliate and hurt those who hurt us, we will pay dearly in the attempt. Hatred breeds bitterness, which rots the soul. Have you ever met a bitter person whom you would label as happy?

When Abraham Lincoln was an attorney, an angry man stormed into his office, wanting to sue a poor man who owed him money. Lincoln tried to dissuade him – informing him his legal fees would be four times the amount owed him.

The angry man didn’t care. He wanted his debtor to pay.

So, Lincoln charged his fee, took a quarter of it and gave it to the man who was unable to pay his debt. Lincoln made a tidy profit, the debtor was relieved to have his debt paid off.

But it took a while for the angry man to realize that victory could be so costly.

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

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Mondegreen


Story of the Day for Tuesday June 2, 2015

Mondegreen

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I heard it, but I did not understand.

Daniel 12:8

When my wife was a teenager she worked at the Spotted Bear Guest Ranch. One day, as they prepared potatoes, Connie, the other cook asked her: “What did you call these?”

“Hog rotten potatoes.”

For years, Darla heard others talk about hog rotten potatoes, but never connected them with the written words: au gratin potatoes.

When we listen to music our minds struggle to make sense of lyrics that we can’t quite understand. One woman heard the Rolling Stones’ lyrics: “I’ll never be your beast of burden” as “I’ll never leave your pizza burnin’.” When the Beatles recorded Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, John Lennon sang: “the girl with kaleidoscope eyes.” Some, however, heard it as, “The girl with colitis goes by.”

Because of their perennial popularity, Christmas songs are inevitably prone to misinterpretation. One kid was caught singing, “Dashing through the snow, with one horse, soap, and sleigh,” and ended the verse with, “What fun it is to write and sing, a slaying song with knives.”

As a child, Sylvia Wright’s mother read poetry to her. She remembered a 17th-century ballad, “The Bonny Earl O’Moray.” She heard the end of the first stanza as:

They have slain the Earl O’Moray

And Lady Mondegreen.

Years later, she read the ballad and was surprised to learn the last line actually read: “And laid him on the green.”

Wright wrote about her mishearing of the words in a magazine article in 1954, and now “mondegreen” has been accepted in English dictionaries to define an error resulting from a mishearing of something said or sung.

The people in Jesus’ day loved to discuss Scripture. The give and take of civil, but spirited debate with those of opposing viewpoints was a healthy way to correct mondegreens and sand off the rough edges.

Access to various beliefs and ideas has exploded in our generation. Yet, the trend today is not to engage in discussion with those of opposing beliefs. Instead, we find religious and political groups huddling together and discussing their beliefs only with those who agree with them. The result has been an increase in misinformation and the growth of whacky ideas.

Unless you feel very insecure about your understanding of the Bible, discuss it with others — especially those who disagree with you.

It was only when the four-year-old Canadian, Ryan, began singing that his parents had the opportunity to correct his version of the national anthem. The last line says, “O Canada, we stand on guard for thee” rather than ” . . . we stand on cars and freeze.”

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

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Story of the Day for Monday June 1, 2015

God Doesn’t Try to Shout

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He awakens me morning by morning. He awakens my ear to listen as one who wants to learn.

Isaiah 50:4

I don’t have a TV, which means, among other things, that I have to sweet-talk friends into letting me watch Packer football games on their TVs.

Some think TV is evil, but it’s not. It broadcasts everything: from the raunchy, to the trivial, to the educational, to the inspiring (and there I go, talking about Packer games again).

After my wife took a sledgehammer to the first ten TVs I bought, I realized I didn’t really need one after all. (She didn’t actually use a sledgehammer, she just took several years teaching me what quiet can do to your soul.)

I still think TVs are a cool invention. My problem is that I don’t have much self-control in this area.

When I wake up, I don’t greet the morning with a glad cry. Instead, I stumble into the kitchen and fumble with the coffeemaker. We heat our house with wood, so I plop in the comfy chair with my coffee cup and stare into the flames.

Now, if I had a TV and a remote control by my side, I have no doubt what would happen next. The TV would blink to life.

“. . .we interrupt to bring you a live broadcast of the school bus accident outside of Wichita. Peter Manning, from our local affiliate, is on the scene. Peter?”

“Sarah, it is chaos here. We have just learned that seven children are dead and many more injured . . . (blah, blah, blah) . . . Back to you Sarah.”

“Thank you, Peter. And now back to our report on the brutal murder outside the mayor’s office in Atlanta. Police are looking for two suspects who . . . (blah, blah, blah)”

“Please stay tuned after the commercial break as Chris brings you a shocking report you won’t want to miss: ‘Is the radon in your basement strong enough to kill all the termites that are eating away the foundation of your home?’”

This is how I used to begin my morning. But then I discovered I could gain the same benefit if I put on a backpack stuffed with three bags of concrete, took a couple slugs of cheap whiskey, and let all the air out of my car tires, to start my day.

Now, I don’t think we need to tell my wife that she was right – it would only go to her head and then she’ll think she’s right about the value of my attending Tupperware™ parties with her.

But she was right.

And, before I sound unbearably sanctimonious, you should know that I do check out the news on the internet later in the day, and I really do like Tupperware™ containers. But I have found that God doesn’t try to shout above the noise I create in my life. He waits until I am ready to listen. And in the quiet of the morning (after a very large cup of coffee), he’s been filling my life with good things.

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

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