Archive for July, 2015

Story of the Day for Wednesday July 8, 2015

What’s Your “Coffee Image”?

coffee over fire

(photo by Carrie Kaarre 2015)

“You’re not to be like the others. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the leader should act like the servant.”

Luke 22:26

Howard Moskowitz is a psychophysicist who holds a Ph.D from Harvard. I have no idea what a psychophysicist does, but I’m trying to impress you with his credentials.

Malcolm Gladwell has introduced Moskowitz to the public as the genius who has transformed how food companies market their products.

When Mr. Moskowitz did his research for a coffee company, he discovered something surprising about coffee drinkers.

If you’re a coffee drinker, what kind of coffee do you like? How ‘bout if I tell you: you like a dark, rich, hearty roast. That’s what virtually all coffee drinkers claim they like. And that’s what coffee companies have advertised. Their commercials assure us we will enjoy the “robust” flavor of their coffee.

Moskowitz did countless taste tests with coffee drinkers, and do you know what he discovered? Few coffee drinkers really like a dark, rich, hearty roast! Most coffee drinkers prefer a milky, weak coffee.

So, what do we make of this? Why do we coffee drinkers think we like a dark, rich, hearty roast, when only 25-27 percent of us actually do?

Have you ever considered that we want to project an image to other people – and that even minor things, like coffee, can be used to establish our character? (You may not know this about yourself, but believe me, advertising companies have known this for a long, long time.)

Somehow, we think that those who drink their coffee black and strong are stouthearted souls with hair on their chest who grab a pair of pliers when they have a toothache. If, on the other hand, we want others to be aware of our sophistication and discriminating palate, we will go to the coffee shop and order a Bolivian roast, medium grind double latte espresso – easy on the crème brulee.

Before Jesus was betrayed and arrested, he spent an evening with his disciples in an upper room. He was not only their rabbi, they were beginning to realize he was their King.

Yet, Jesus was unconcerned with his image. He got up from the meal to kneel before his disciples with a wash basin and a towel.

After Jesus had inaugurated the Lord’s Supper, what did the disciples do? Luke tells us they got in an argument over who was more important.

The graphic visual teaching of the foot washing didn’t take, so Jesus put it to them plainly. In the kingdom of God, image counts for nothing. True greatness is found when we forsake our images of superiority.

Jesus doesn’t want us to impress others; he wants us to serve them. . . as he served us.

(copyright 2012 climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

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Story of the Day for Tuesday July 7, 2015

The Secret Weapon

When the Israelites saw the man, everyone ran away in great fear.

1 Samuel 17:24

We consider some people brave by the very nature of their occupations: smoke jumpers, police officers, firefighters, babysitters.

And, standing atop this list are soldiers.

So, for an entire army to spot a single combatant, and scatter in a panic seems a little peculiar. But that is exactly what the army of Israel did when Goliath strutted out and challenged them to a duel – winner take all.

A shepherd boy with five smooth stones and a slingshot stepped forward to challenge the giant. And we all know the story from the standpoint of what David did to Goliath. But do you remember what David did to the army of Israel that day?

The soldiers of Israel watched as David marched up to this fearsome warrior, and opposed him “in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.”

When David stood triumphant over Goliath, the soldiers of Israel sprang to life. They let out a roar and surged after the frightened Philistine army. The army of Israel chased the Philistines and kicked their can all along the Shaaraim road from Judah to Gath.



When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, devastating our naval fleet in the Pacific, they had a twofold objective. They not only wanted to cripple our naval power but also to crush the American resolve to wage war.

The Japanese high command, however, was completely unaware that we had a secret weapon.

The “secret weapon” was an artist from a small town in Vermont. Norman Rockwell painted pictures of patriotism and bravery. He painted pictures of “Four Freedoms” – those liberties that are the hallmark of our nation. He painted the American spirit.

Fueled by the vision Rockwell portrayed for us, Americans responded. “Remember Pearl Harbor” was not a discouraging reminder of a humiliating defeat. Instead, it became an echo of an earlier cry, “Remember the Alamo!” when a few brave Americans stood bravely against overwhelming odds.

The power of an artist to inspire a nation was the one weapon for which the Japanese military had no defense.

Your brothers and sisters in Christ may be impressed by your talents, but they are not inspired by them. They are inspired by your courage.

Make no mistake about this: when you face your Goliaths in the name and power of the Lord, the greatest victory will not be yours; it will be the victories of all those who have found courage from your example.

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

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Dead Reckoning

Story of the Day for Monday July 6, 2012

Dead Reckoning

I will lead the blind along ways they don’t know; on a path which they don’t know about I will guide them.

Isaiah 42:16

My family appreciates my astonishing ability to lead them on wilderness hikes without the aid of hiking trails or maps. Without my innate powers of dead reckoning, there are countless box canyons that my wife and kids would never have had the opportunity to see and enjoy.

The ability to navigate by dead reckoning is a useful talent, and I’m so glad I can share my gift with others. But, sometimes I get it into my head that the best way to follow the Lord is by my same sense of dead reckoning. I have this internal gyroscope that tells me the fastest way “up” is up. Jesus insists the fastest way “up” is down. He says, “He who humbles himself will be exalted,” and tells me to sit at the foot of the table when I attend dinner parties.

It’s all quite confusing. But, recently, driving to church has helped clear things up for me.

One of my favorite places to be is a remote Montana community in the West Kootenai. I can’t describe where it is by telling you what it’s close to because it’s not close to anything. But they do have a church there where I worship.


(photo: DeaLynn Boom)

As the crow flies, it’s only 8 ½ miles from my home. But, if you try to get there by dead reckoning, you will thrash through mountain ranges and no one will ever hear from you again.

If you take the road to the West Kootenai, it is 33 miles, and the directions you take make little sense. When Pinkham Creek Road meets the highway, you know that if you turn right and head north you will be only a few miles away. But, instead, you must turn left and drive south for several miles in the opposite direction.

That’s the only way to reach the one bridge that crosses the Koocanusa.

In Proverbs it says there’s a path that seems to us like the right way to go, but, in the end it leads to death. Common sense – confidence in our spiritual knack for dead reckoning – will lead us to a miserable place. If you always insist on taking the path in life that makes the most sense, you’re on the wrong road.

On several occasions, the Bible observes that intelligent, scholarly people are less likely to follow Jesus than others. Why is that? It’s not because they know something the rest of us don’t, but simply because they’re more prone to trusting in their intelligence rather than in the Lord.

Isaiah compares the Lord’s guidance to the leading of a blind man. The blind cannot see how the path should go, so they simply trust that their Guide knows where he’s going. It’s just as well the blind don’t do things my way; without vision they wouldn’t be able to appreciate the beauty of a box canyon anyway.

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

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Story of the Day for Friday July 3, 2015

 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.”

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)

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Story of the Day for Thursday July 2, 2015

Leave Room for God to Surprise You

As Jesus walked along the lake of Galilee he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting nets in the lake — for they were fishermen. And Jesus said, “Come, follow me . . .”

Mark 1:16-17

Steven Spielberg has been called the greatest film director of all time. He has twice won the Academy Award for Best Director. You can hardly read through the list of his blockbuster movies without having to take a bathroom break.

When Spielberg was about six or seven, his dad told him, “I’m going to take you to see the greatest show on earth.”

The circus! Little Steven couldn’t wait.

They drove from New Jersey to Philadelphia and waited in a long line. As they went through the entrance Steven expected to find a tent with bleacher seats. Instead, he found himself in a dimly lit room with comfy seats. A large, red curtain opened, the lights went down, and a flickering, grainy image appeared on a screen.

Steven Spielberg was watching the first movie of his life: Cecil B. DeMille’s “The Greatest Show on Earth.”

The young boy felt betrayed, but his indignation quickly evaporated. “I was no longer in a theater; I was no longer in a seat — I wasn’t aware of the surroundings . . . I became part of an experience.”

The movie featured a spectacular train wreck. A speeding train smashed into a vehicle on the tracks. The actual filming of the scene was done with a model train, but to Spielberg “it was as real as I’ve seen anything in my life.”

From that moment on, Spielberg knew what he wanted . . . a Lionel electric train. The year after he got his first train set he asked his dad for another one. He was obsessed with trains.



Once he had two train engines he set about recreating the wreck in the Cecil B. DeMille movie. He crashed the trains into each other and broke them. His dad had them repaired and the next week he crashed and broke them again.

“Look!” Steven’s dad threatened, “I’m going to take the trains away from you if you crash them into each other one more time.”

Steven wanted to watch train wrecks but didn’t want to lose his train set. So, he grabbed his dad’s 8mm Kodak camera and filmed one of his trains barreling down the tracks toward the camera. He turned off the camera, switched camera angles and filmed the other train coming from the other direction. Then he filmed a crash sequence.

“That’s how,” Spielberg recalled, “I made my first movie.”

The threat of losing his Lionel train set turned Spielberg into a movie maker.

If you want to make God laugh, the old axiom goes, tell him your plans. Our lives never follow the scripts we write for our future. We might as well leave room for God to surprise us because he’s going to do it anyway.

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

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Story of the Day for Wednesday July 1, 2015

It’s Okay to Change Your Answer



Just as iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.

Proverbs 27:17

The secret to becoming more Christ-like is, oddly enough, to behave in a way that Christ never did.

Even though Jesus was often criticized for his behavior, he never admitted he was wrong. That’s because he was never wrong.

In our case, however, not much is going to happen in our lives until we learn to listen to the criticisms of others and admit when we’re wrong.

If you’re thinking, “Okay, but I’m seldom wrong when others criticize me,” then you’ve come to the right place, because I intend to show you that you’re . . .wrong. Let’s start with this: suppose you’re taking a test and then go back and change your answer. Is your changed answer more likely to improve your score? Three quarters of college students say no – your changed answer is more likely to be incorrect. Professors feel the same way, only more so. Only 16% of professors believe that changing your initial answer on a test will improve your score.

Guess what? They’re wrong. Researchers have been studying this subject for over 70 years now. One researcher examined 33 different studies on this question and every study agreed: students who change an answer on a test are more likely to improve their score.

So, why do the majority of people still favor their initial answer as the correct one? Could it point to a deeper issue? Could it be that we have an aversion to admitting that we were wrong in something we did? Could it be that we are so enamored with our views and opinions that we are reluctant to admit we’re wrong? That’s what it seems like.

If we want to grow into the image of Christ, we must stop being so impressed with ourselves. Our focus must not be in defending how right we are, but in admitting how wrong we are. Only a humble heart can admit faults. Only one who admits his faults can know how good it feels to have Jesus forgive him.

Do you know what I do when others point out flaws in my character? My first instinct is to defend myself. But I cannot grow from the correction of others until I begin by considering the possibility they are probably right.

Darn it.

Others can see faults in us to which we are blind. We need to listen, evaluate, repent . . . and know that it is okay to “change our answer.”

Yeah, yeah, I realize there are many times when those who criticize us are wrong. But they aren’t wrong as often as we think.

We aren’t going to make much progress in our spiritual life until we learn that others can see things in ourselves that we cannot.

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

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