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The Story of the Day from climbinghigher.org has moved to a new updated (and in progress) website at http://www.stillpeakcollective.com.  Here you can find Marty’s two books, Story of the Day, and information about our outdoor ministry: Athelas Outdoor Ministry.  Please check us out, subscribe to the Story of the Day blog, enjoy Marty’s books, and keep up on what wilderness/outdoor adventure retreats are available to you!  We hope you will give us feedback and follow us there.  Thanks for your patience, encouragement and your support of our ministry.  Gratitude overflows!still-peak-collective-logo


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Story of the Day for Monday December 7, 2015

We Shall Stand Victorious

Be strong and let your heart take courage, all you who hope in the Lord.

Psalm 31:24



Scientists performed an experiment where they placed a rat in a tub of water. In about an hour the rat would drown. Then the scientists would place another rat in a tub of water, but would pluck it up out of the water every few minutes. The researchers found that the rats who were periodically picked up out of the water would swim in the water for over 24 hours.

What made the difference? No, it was not the rest that the second group of rats received from being picked up. The difference was that the first group of rats were given no hope of rescue while the second group had the hope that they would be eventually rescued.

Hope is an act of faith. When the future looks bleak, hope acts in the conviction that we will still find what we long for. We will act as if our longings will take place in the future despite how dismal things may be at present. Those who cling to their hope are far more resistant to the setbacks in life.

During World War II, 25,000 American soldiers were imprisoned by the Japanese. Living under inhumane conditions, it was no surprise that many soldiers died. But, the soldiers themselves noticed a difference between those most likely to die and those who survived. They realized that once a soldier lost all hope of getting out of prison camp alive, he would simply choose to die. The soldiers who survived acted with the confidence that, someday, they would be released. Robin Reader, in his work, Holding On To Hope, says these soldiers, “talked about the kind of homes they would have, the jobs they would choose, and even described the kind of person they would marry. . . Some even found ways to study subjects related to the kind of career they wanted to pursue. The doctors taken captive even formed medical societies.”

Hope provides an astonishing strength to our physical health as well. In 1997 the American Heart Association cited the work of Susan Everson who found that people with a high level of despair were 20 percent more likely to have hardening of the arteries than optimistic people. Everson noted, “This is the same magnitude of increased risk that one sees in comparing a pack-a-day smoker to a non-smoker.”

But just because you hope for something, does that mean your hopes will come true? No. The apostle Paul would often close his letters to various congregations by saying that he hoped to visit them soon in person. There was no guarantee that this would really happen.

But the Bible also speaks of a hope that is not based on our human longings, but on the promise of God. The Bible tells us repeatedly that we can rise up with confidence and courage when our hope is based on God’s word; that, when the dust settles, we shall stand victorious in his mercy.

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

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Story of the Day for Wednesday November 25, 2015

“Pass the Bread, Fred”



Get rid of all . . . hypocrisy . . .

1 Peter 2:1

Dr. Foerster’s patient was fully conscious as the German neurosurgeon performed brain surgery to remove a tumor. As Dr. Foerster touched one region of the brain, however, his patient erupted in compulsive pun making. The patient was unable to control his wild word associations.

Arthur Koestler, who mentioned this incident in his book, The Act of Creation, calls Foerster’s Syndrome the inability to refrain from making puns.

I mention this because my college roommate was a jovial guy, but it was obvious that he got dropped on his head when he was a child, because he had Foerster’s Syndrome in a big way. He didn’t learn and retell the puns of others; he was the sole originator and distributor of endless groaners.

Once, one of the college administrators told him bluntly that punning was the lowest form of humor, but this indirect plea for mercy didn’t dampen my roommate’s enthusiasm for punning in the slightest.

Paul, from Elkhart, Indiana, once wrote in to Reader’s Digest about a family dinner. His parents, Fred and Adah, invited Paul and his three siblings for a Sunday meal.

Everyone, except for Adah, was in a silly mood and began rhyming their requests.

“Please pass the meat, Pete.”

“May I have a potatah, Adah?”

“I’d give the moon for a spoon.”

After a while, Adah had heard enough. “Stop this nonsense right now!” she shouted. “It’s Sunday, and I would like to enjoy my dinner with some good conversation, not all this silly chatter.”

Then, in a huff, she snapped, “Pass the bread, Fred.”

The most annoying aspect of criticizing others is when I find myself dropping into the same kind of behavior. When I criticize people for being late for appointments, I will soon find that I’m late for an appointment. Lately, I confided to my wife that I thought someone was a gossip. I took a minute before I realized that I was gossiping about someone else who gossips.

Now that I’ve recognized my unfortunate habit of acting like a hypocrite, it has, somewhat, tempered my judgmentalism toward others.

The next step Jesus wants me to learn is to be calmer about others – even if I’m never guilty of doing what they do. After all, others have some vices I don’t. For example, I relish the fact that I’ve mustard the strength to resist the impulse to ketchup to my old roommate in the punning department. I just don’t have the hot dog personality he has.

(I can hear my old roommate now, saying, “Marty, let me be frank with you – you’re not very punny!”)

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

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The Mystery Critic

Story of the Day for Tuesday November 24, 2015

The Mystery Critic


Love. . . doesn’t envy. It doesn’t boast, it isn’t proud.

1 Corinthians 13:4

Sir Walter Scott, who was born in 1771, pulled off a feat that no one author had ever accomplished. He became the first English writer to enjoy an international reputation while he was still alive – with avid fans in Great Britain, Europe, North America, and Australia.

Scott is best known for his novels. In fact, he invented the genre of the historical narrative. But historical novels weren’t his only innovation: in order to maintain his image as Great Britain’s leading poet, he wrote his first novels anonymously. After his first novel, Waverly, he published his later novels as “Author of Waverly.”

As if being the best writer in the English world wasn’t enough, Sir Walter Scott was granted permission by the future King George IV to search for the long lost crown of Charles II. Armed with military assistants, Scott found the Crown Jewels of Scotland in the bowels of a castle in Edinburgh, and a grateful royalty granted Scott the title of baronet.

Sir Walter Scott could hardly rise higher in popularity.

At the height of Scott’s popularity, however, a usurper arose. Lord Byron, a young, charismatic poet began to publish his works.

A London paper printed the reviews of an anonymous contributor. The reviewer gushed over the works of Bryron – praising his poetic genius. Sir Walter Scott, the anonymous critic maintained, could no longer be considered the leading poet of England. Later, it was discovered that the mystery critic was Sir Walter Scott himself.

Scott considered literary envy “a base sensation” and lauded Byron as “the man whose splendour dimmed the fame of his competitors.”

Not only did Scott work to bolster the popularity of Lord Byron, but he also defended authors that were scoffed at by the critics. Jane Austen, who today is recognized as a literary giant, was, in the 19th century dismissed as a “woman’s novelist.” Sir Walter Scott was one of the few males who came to her defense and commended Austen’s genius.

Scott desperately needed readers to buy his books. When businesses, in which he was heavily invested, crashed, he was financially ruined. Rather than declare bankruptcy, however, he determined to write himself out of debt. But he never considered the option of bettering his popularity by trying to diminish the fame of his fellow authors.

Love is an odd thing. It doesn’t resent the success of others but rejoices for them, rejoices with them. When the Bible urges us to love our neighbor as ourselves, we begin to learn that we are not at our greatest when we stand boastfully above our rivals, but when we devote our attention to making others better.

(copyright 2012 by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)
(image copyright by: http://www.reedgallery.co.nz/exhibitions/by-the-author-of-waverley/13)

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Avoid Going Cross-Eyed

Story of the Day for Monday November 23, 2015

Avoid Going Cross-Eyed



Why do you look down on your brother?

Romans 14:10

Sarah’s middle name was Ophelia, in honor of the noble character in Shakespeare’s Hamlet. She grew up in a cultured, sophisticated home. Sarah’s mother had attended a finishing school to learn the social graces of high society.

Sarah herself attended a prestigious college known for its refinement. Majoring in theatre and dance, she landed a job with an acting company. Her job was to travel to rural areas of the southeast and make presentations to civic organizations — seeking to convince them to sponsor local plays with the community’s residents as actors.

One winter night, a furious snowstorm stranded her on Brindley Mountain in northern Alabama. Sarah found shelter at the cabin of an old hillbilly couple who took her in. She was overwhelmed by their hospitality, and charmed by their rustic wit.

Sarah was trained to perform serious Shakespearean roles, but now her stay with this backwoods couple inspired her to develop a new character. She auditioned in Nashville and soon became a regular at the Ryman Auditorium’s Grand Ole Opry.

She wore a dowdy calico dress and a straw hat with plastic flowers on it with the price tag dangling from the side. Calling herself Minnie Pearl, she marched on stage and hollered, “How-DEE!” Soon the audience learned to roar back, “How-DEE!”

Minnie would always begin, “Ahm ‘jez so proud ta be here!” and then launched into a monologue of such cheerful yappiness that you couldn’t help but like her.

The world couldn’t get enough of Minnie Pearl. Today, she is enshrined in the Country Music Hall of Fame, even though she never sang a single chart-topping song. The main lobby at the Ryman displays two bronze statues, and hers is one of them. And her gaudy straw hat with the dangling price tag is now on display in the Smithsonian.

Sarah’s acting skills were so polished most people assumed she was a simple country hayseed who made it big. Yet, Sarah Cannon was anything but. She lived next door to the governor’s mansion and traveled in high society — hosting bridge parties in her mansion. Sarah even admitted she much preferred classical music to country.

How could a woman immersed in refined society become so wildly popular playing a chattering rustic? I think there’s one clear reason: she learned to admire and respect a down-home couple who took her into their cabin during a snowstorm. Sarah Cannon donated much to civic causes; she purchased the new organ for her church. But she couldn’t match the generosity of the poor couple who sheltered her in a storm. Sarah never made Minnie Pearl an object of derision. She never mocked rural culture.

Have you noticed how easily we look down our nose at those who live in different cultures? Country people call those from urban areas “city slickers.” Those from the city call rural people “hicks.” The middle class thinks the rich have too much leisure time; the rich think the lower classes are too lazy to succeed and would rather steal hub caps.

Let’s face it: it’s much easier to love people who are like us.

What makes Jesus’ behavior so startling is the ease with which he glided between those of different social standing. He accepted a dinner invitation from a prominent Pharisee as well as one from a low-life tax collector. He didn’t look down on anyone.

We can’t love those we look down our nose at. And when we try, we go cross-eyed.

(copyright 2014 by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

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Story of the Day for Friday November 20, 2015

Making the Best of it in the Entryway



In Christ we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accord with the riches of His grace that he showered on us with all wisdom and understanding.

Ephesians 1:7-8 (mck)

In The Christian Reader, a woman wrote about her brother and his bride on their honeymoon. Late at night they finally got to their fancy hotel’s bridal suite. The room had only a sofa, a table, and chairs.

Then, discovering the sofa pulled out into a bed, they spent an uncomfortable night on a lumpy mattress with saggy springs. In the morning, they gave the hotel clerk at the front desk an earful.

The clerk asked, “Did you open the door in your room?”

The door?

He thought it was a closet. He went back to his room, opened the door, and found a gorgeous bedroom, complete with fruit baskets and chocolates.

He had spent the night with his bride in the entryway!

I really want to laugh at him for being so silly. Unfortunately, I can’t, because I do that kind of thing with a frequency that alarms all who know me.

The apostle Paul describes the riches of grace that God showers down on us. It is as if God has filled the bridal suite with the wealth of the world. . . and, sometimes, where am I? Making the best of it in the entryway.

God’s love for us is not a limited commodity that he, reluctantly, parcels out in meager doses. Grace is an unending waterfall. The question is whether we will stand under it or not.

The problem for many of us is that we are half right. As we honestly take stock of our lives we know that we are guilty of living contrary to the way God wants us to. And, because we are guilty, we realize we are unworthy of receiving any good gift from the Lord.

So far so good.

But here is where we tend to wander off track: if we are unworthy, then it would seem that God should give us just enough to get by. Why would God heap truckloads of blessing on people who have been so unfaithful to Him?

But that is exactly what He does!

God is reckless in lavishing his love on undeserving people. You will have learned the wildness of his love when you let him rain it down on you.

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

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No Bellybutton?

Story of the Day for Friday November 13, 2015

No Bellybutton?



Don’t conform to this age, but be transformed in the renewal of your mindset.

Romans 12:2

What if you didn’t have a bellybutton? You’d feel pretty stupid, right? It’s not as if our navel serves any vital purpose, but we still want one so we will be like everyone else.

Yeah, yeah – I realize some of you still insist you’re nonconformists, and don’t care if you have a bellybutton – or what anyone thinks about it.

Okay, then, let’s imagine you have three eyes: one in the middle of your forehead, and one over each ear. This, now, increases your peripheral vision. Yet, even with your physical advantage over others, you would still rather have two eyes . . . simply because everyone else does.

The fact is, we all have a deep desire to fit in with others. This desire to conform is not a sin – far from it, it’s the way God has wired us. We are created to live in community. We need to conform to certain values and behaviors in order to exist as a society.

All that said, conformity sometimes gets us into trouble. It’s one thing to want a bellybutton or to wear clothes like other people wear. But, many times we do harmful things simply because “everyone else is doing it.”

Three years ago, our family drove to the Midwest. We hit road construction in western North Dakota. Two construction crew trucks with flashing yellow lights, occupied both lanes, and slowly led us down the freeway.

Some drivers, however, kept weaving from one lane to the other to pass. They would find the smallest opening and squeeze ahead of the car in front of them – even though everyone had to follow the construction vehicles.

When we came to the town of Ray, the construction ended and the two pace trucks pulled off into a parking lot. Surprisingly, the cars that had spent the last half hour weaving to the front followed the pace trucks. They followed each other, and filled the parking lot so no one could move. Now, apparently, they would have to wait until the mile-long line of cars passed before they could even back up.

We shouldn’t find pleasure at the misfortune of others. But as I sped down the freeway east of Ray, I laughed so hard I could hardly see to drive.

When we’re immersed in a culture, it’s extremely difficult to recognize how our behavior mimics those around us – just as a fish may have a difficult time recognizing that it’s wet.

The Lord doesn’t want us to conform to behavior that doesn’t lead us closer to him. Instead, he tells us to be transformed by his way of seeing life.

To refuse to conform to a non-Christian culture, and to be transformed by God’s ways is fairly easy to explain. But it takes a lifetime to learn.

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

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