Archive for April, 2016

Story of the Day for Friday April 8, 2016

 With All Their Heart

                    We rebuilt the wall . . . because the people worked with all their heart.

Nehemiah 4:6



 Grete Waitz, a 25 year-old Norwegian, tried to enter the New York City Marathon in 1978, but was turned down. They wanted to see her times in previous races, but she had never run a marathon. She had, in fact, never run a race further than twelve miles.

Later, the race director, Fred Lebow, called her back. He knew of her fast times in six and ten miles events, and told her she could enter the race because he wanted a “rabbit” to set a fast pace for the elite women.

Grete entered the marathon, and, by mile nineteen, knew her body had ventured into unknown territory. Her quads began to cramp and she knew that marathon races were not for her.

When she crossed the finish line, exhausted and in great pain, she was confused by the crowds swarming her and the microphones stuck in her face.  She was not only the first woman to cross the finish, but had smashed the world record by two minutes.

Grete was a teacher, but would get up at five in the morning to train before work. She delighted to get up before dawn in winter and run into the bitter cold Norwegian darkness. She felt that anyone could work out when it was a nice day. Gail Kislevitz, in her book, First Marathons, quoted Waitz’s opinion of training when conditions are favorable, “That’s fun,” she said, “but there’s no sense of sacrifice, no great accomplishment.” Competing, for Grete, was about courage and sacrifice – doing it with all your heart.

In 1988, Grete Waitz had won her ninth New York City Marathon, and was known worldwide as the greatest female marathoner of all time.

But, in 1993, Grete met Zoe Klopowitz, a heavy woman in her mid-forties who suffered from multiple sclerosis. Despite weak muscles and poor balance, Waitz was astounded to learn that Zoe planned to compete in the New York City marathon.

“Who is waiting for you at the finish line?” Zoe explained she had to rely on two canes, and moved so slowly she didn’t plan to finish until the next day. No one would be there to welcome her at the finish.

At dawn, about 20 hours after the marathon had started, Grete stood waiting for Zoe at the finish line. Exhausted and sleep deprived, Zoe fell into Grete’s arms. Two runners: the world’s fastest and slowest marathoners shared a common conviction. Both believed that what mattered most was not ability, but heart.

Nehemiah rallied the people to rebuild the fallen walls of Jerusalem. They worked against constant obstacles, taunts and threats. But the wall was completed because the people were committed to a noble task to the honor of God.

And the Bible says they gave themselves to the task “with all their heart.”

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

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Story of the Day for Thursday April 7, 2016


Treat Him as You Wish


He who was from the beginning, we have heard. We have seen him with our eyes. We have looked at him and touched him.

1 John 1:1


He’s one of the most well-known guys you’ve never heard of. His title (who could make this up?) is: The Right Honourable Sir Frederick Arthur Stanley, Baron Stanley of Preston, in the County of Lancaster, in the Peerage of Great Britain, Knight Grand Cross of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath.  But hockey fans know him well; in all of sports, Lord Stanley’s Cup is the most coveted of all trophies.

When a team wins a championship, players hoist the trophy above their shoulders and their fans go wild. And then what? Then they put the trophy in a glass case where you can see it, but can’t touch it. The Stanley Cup is different. When a hockey team wins the Stanley Cup, each player is allowed to take it home with them for a day or two, and his name is engraved on it.  https://i0.wp.com/fulltilthockeynetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/nhl_stanley_cup_2.jpg

Many players take the Stanley Cup to a gymnasium where adoring crowds stand in line to have their photo taken of them touching the Cup. Others travel with the Cup. It has made the journey to Europe and to igloos among the Eskimos. The Stanley Cup has been kissed and adored. But it has also been neglected and abused.

In 1903, Ottawa won the Cup and had their team photograph taken in the studio of Jimmy Rice. It wasn’t until the next season that someone realized the Cup was missing. Since the player’s last remembered seeing it at the Rice studio, they asked Jimmy Rice about it. Rice hadn’t seen it either. But he asked the cleaning lady if she had.

“Oh, is that what it is.” She then explained that she took it home, filled it with potting soil, and was using it to grow geraniums.

Another year, Ottawa won the Stanley Cup again. Some team members were drunk enough that trying to punt the Cup across the frozen Rideau Canal seemed like a good idea. Someone found it the next day lying in the middle of the ice.

Montreal players threw the Stanley Cup in the trunk of a car and drove to a party. When they had a flat tire, they pulled the Cup out of the trunk, and set it by the side of the road. Only after they got to the party did they realize they had left the Stanley Cup lying by the side of the road.

The Stanley Cup isn’t a trophy that collects dust in a glass case. It is revered, but it has also been lost, stolen, dented, and abused.

To many, God is remote and unapproachable – like a trophy removed from the people by a glass case. But the story of the Bible is about the God who chose to come to earth. When he was a boy, his parents lost him for a few days. The crowds sometimes mobbed him in breathless excitement, but also grabbed him to throw him off a cliff. Some spit in his face and rained blows to his head; another knelt to wash his dusty feet with her tears and kisses.

You can curse Jesus, ignore him or bow before him in worship. The only thing you can’t do is claim that God is remote. He let the world treat him as they wished.

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

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Story of the Day for Tuesday April 5, 2016

 A Hard Time Seeing

                The angels asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”

          And she said to them, “They’ve taken my Lord, and I don’t know where they’ve put him.”

John 20:13

Tom Mullen, in his book, Laughing Out Loud and Other Religious Experiences, tells a story – the gist of it going like this:

https://kaarre.files.wordpress.com/2016/04/5f990-mp9004444165b15d.jpgThree men were hunting deep in the Canadian wilderness when they came upon an old trapper’s cabin. Hoping to find shelter for the night, they knocked, and when no one answered, they went in.

The cabin was simple and plain – but the one thing that caught their attention was the stove. The pot-bellied stove didn’t sit on the floor but hung suspended from the ceiling and was supported by wire.

One of the party, a psychologist, said, “Interesting! Obviously, this trapper, in his loneliness and isolation has elevated his stove so he can curl up under it and vicariously experience a return to the security of his mother’s womb.”

“Nonsense!” said his friend, who was an engineer. “He’s simply implementing the laws of thermal transfer. By elevating the stove, radiant heat is increased – thus heating the cabin with greater efficiency.”

The third member of the hunting party, a sociologist, scoffed at both of them. “Don’t you guys get it? Fire is an archetypal cultural symbol for passionate desire. He is simply engaging in ritual behavior to symbolize his deep desire for successful trapping. It’s like a lucky rabbit’s foot – only more so.”

Later that night, the trapper returned. He welcomed them to stay for the night.

As the evening wore on, one of them finally got up the courage to ask, “Say, we were all wondering why you’ve hung your stove from the ceiling like that?”

The trapper shrugged and replied, “Had a lot of wire but not much stove pipe.”

We often have a hard time seeing what we’re seeing. We interpret life from our own experience. As someone once said, if all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.

When your only experience in life is that dead people stay where you last laid them, who could blame Mary of Magdala for concluding that someone must have taken away the corpse from the tomb?

Even when Mary saw the risen Jesus she didn’t see him – since he’s not supposed to be there. She looked at Jesus and saw the cemetery gardener.

When God does a new thing, everything looks fuzzy at first. But, as we come to understand his purpose, things begin to come into focus.

Since the Fall of mankind, God has pointed all of history to this moment, when he would undo the curse of sin and recreate life from death.

Once we see it, it becomes as obvious as why a trapper would hang his stove from the ceiling.

(text copyright 2012 by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)
(image: https://kaarre.files.wordpress.com/2016/04/5f990-mp9004444165b15d.jpg)

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Story of the Day for Monday April 4, 2016

The Crucial Word is “IF”

 https://i2.wp.com/beautyforashes.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/6GMYp2pS_400x400.jpeg                   If Christ has not been raised then our preaching is hollow and your faith is useless.

1 Corinthians 15:14

Daniel Patrick Moynihan was one of the most popular and well-known politicians in the country. He was the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, and was now running for a seat in the U.S. Senate.

Tim Russert, in his book, Big Russ & Me, says that, during his senate campaign, Moynihan toured a new mental hospital in Utica, New York. He was so exhausted, however, that he decided to take a nap in one of the rooms.

He woke up to discover there were no door handles on the inside. There was a phone, however, so he called the front desk, “Could you please get me out of here?” And then, to give his request a little heft, he added, “This is Ambassador Moynihan.”

“Sure,” the desk clerk chirped, “and Winston Churchill was here yesterday.”

The distraught ambassador repeated his claim, “This is Ambassador Moynihan!”

“Yes, I’m sure it is, but you can’t leave, no matter who you are.”

Just as the desk clerk at the mental hospital didn’t believe the man locked in the room was the ambassador to the United Nations, so the chief priests and Pharisees didn’t believe that the corpse lying in the tomb was the Son of God.

Both followers and enemies knew Jesus’ prediction that he would rise from the dead on the third day. Yet, ironically, only his skeptics seemed concerned with the possibility that his prophecy might come true. His followers had already given up hope.

In order to enhance the odds that the tomb would house a corpse on the third day, Jesus’ enemies sought permission from the Roman governor for a military guard to secure the perimeter.

So, now, the most important prediction in the history of the universe comes down to a waiting game. If Jesus doesn’t walk out of there by Sunday, faith is worse than useless.

The crucial word is “if.”

Our English word, “laconic,” means to give a short, terse response – to say no more than what is necessary. The term originates from the region of ancient Greece called Laconia.

Philip, the father of Alexander the Great, ruled as king of Macedonia in northern Greece. He wanted to conquer all of Greece, and was on the verge of doing so. Only Laconia remained unconquered.

Philip of Macedon tried to intimidate the Spartans living in Laconia to surrender. He sent them a message saying, “If I enter Laconia with my army, I shall raze Sparta to the ground.”

The Spartans responded to Philip’s threat with a one-word message.


(copyright 2012 by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)
(image: http://beautyforashes.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/6GMYp2pS_400x400.jpeg)

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