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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.

“If.”

(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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Story of the Day for Wednesday March 16, 2016

 No Yardstick for Love

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http://thumbs.dreamstime.com/t/measuring-word-love-white-38500384.jpg

                 All day long my mouth will tell of your righteousness and salvation, though I don’t know its measure. 

Psalm 71:15

 Women are puzzling when they learn a baby has been born. They always want to know measurements, and excitedly pass on this information. “Did you hear Emily just had a baby girl? Six pounds, eight-and-a-half ounces, seventeen inches long!”

Guys are different. After they learn it’s a boy or a girl, they really don’t know what to say. “Um . . .Does it have a belly button?”

Women get excited about a newborn’s measurements, but the odd thing is that the actual measurements don’t matter. It’s not like a bass fishing derby — where the bigger the largemouth the better. Babies don’t win awards for their length or weight. It’s not a competition.

I believe a woman needs to measure a newborn because this is how she express her joy.

Love always wants to measure what can’t be measured. Lovers write poems claiming their love is deeper than the deepest ocean. So, what are they trying to say? That their love is more than 10.91 kilometers at the point where Mariana Trench lies due north of Papua, New Guinea? Not exactly.

Laying a newborn baby on a scale or imagining the depth of the ocean are imprecise means of calculating love, but how else do you measure the immeasurable?

A lot of important things, however, can be measured accurately. That’s why we monitor our blood pressure and periodically lift the car hood to check the dipstick. But we get into trouble when precise measurements are the only standards we accept as important.

Before his death from pancreatic cancer, Randy Pausch, in his book The Last Lecture, talks about his consulting work with Disney World. He asked Disney executives a pointed question: If a child walked into one of their stores with a broken salt and pepper shaker, would their policies allow their workers to replace it free of charge?

Not likely. You can easily calculate the cost of a salt and pepper shaker. Giving one away is a financial loss. Do that for a billion customers and it could put you out of business.

But Randy would tell the executives of the time, as a youngster, he went into a store at Disney World and bought a salt and pepper shaker for ten dollars. Afterward, he dropped his purchase and broke one of the shakers. He was heartbroken.

An adult noticed Randy’s tears and urged him to go back to the store and ask to have it replaced. The store worker cheerfully gave him a new one.

Did Disney World lose money doing that? By one way of measurement, yes. But Randy’s dad was so impressed when he heard of this act of kindness he started driving his students to Disney World in a twenty-one passenger bus from Maryland. Pausch says his dad spent over $100,000 at Disney World over the years.

Love can’t be calculated and recorded on a spreadsheet — and this is especially true of Jesus’ love for you. We will always struggle to describe it because there is no yardstick for a love beyond measure.

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

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Story of the Day for Monday February 22, 2016

Refuse to Lose Heart

So many people gathered to hear Jesus there wasn’t enough room to get in the door. . . Four men arrived carrying a paralyzed man. Not able to get through the crowd, they dug a hole through the roof over where Jesus was, and lowered the paralyzed man on his mat.  

 Mark 2:2-4

    As the 1988 summer Olympics in Seoul neared, swimmer Matt Biondi, was hyped as America’s best hope to scoop up a basket full of gold medals.

    In his first race, however, he came in third. His second race, the 100-meter butterfly, saw him come shy of the gold by one hundredth of a second.

https://i0.wp.com/www.tradingcarddb.com/Images/Cards/Multi-Sport/61811/61811-3763650Bk.jpg    The press expected Biondi to win these first two events. Sportscasters now altered their tone. They speculated Biondi would be so discouraged, his performance would suffer in the subsequent races.

    Dr. Martin Seligman, however, knew these dismal forecasts were wrong. As the leading psychologist in his field, he had been hired to run an assessment of the swimmers on the U.S. swim team, and find out how they reacted to failure.

    Each swimmer was timed for their best effort, but Seligman asked the coach to take his swimmer’s times and tell them it was a couple seconds slower than it actually was. Many of the swimmers were distraught by their poor times and, when asked to rest and race a second time, swam considerably slower.

    Matt Biondi, however, was unfazed by failure. Told of his discouraging time, Biondi raced a second time and swam faster than his first race.

    When I have faced obstacles in life, I’ve often wondered, “Lord, are you trying to tell me something?” Maybe these roadblocks were God’s way of telling me I needed to give up and go in another direction.

    But the four men who wanted Jesus to heal their paralyzed friend thought differently. When they carried their friend to the house where Jesus was, they couldn’t even get through the door. This, obviously, was a sign they wouldn’t be able to see Jesus. Maybe they should’ve been more sensitive to the Spirit’s prompting.

    These men, thankfully, didn’t think like that. Houses had steps on the outside that led to a flat roof. They carried the paralyzed man up to the roof and dug a hole in it. As Jesus and the crowd ducked from pieces of hardened clay raining down on them, they watched in amazement as these four intrepid souls lowered their friend down in front of Jesus.

    Jesus didn’t see four men who failed to sense God’s will. He saw faith that wouldn’t give up.

    After Matt Biondi came in third and second in his first two events, he refused to lose heart. He won gold in his last five races.

    I used to believe setbacks and failure was God’s sign for me to quit. But, as I think of Jesus’ response to those four guys who refused to give up when they hit a brick wall and a blocked door, I’m reconsidering that assumption.

(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)
(image: http://www.tradingcarddb.com/Images/Cards/Multi-Sport/61811/61811-3763650Bk.jpg)

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Story of the Day for Thursday January 28, 2016

What Will Be

Enlarge your tent, widen your tent curtains. Don’t hold back; lengthen your cords, and strengthen your stakes.

Isaiah 54:2

    Art Linkletter’s friend once took him for a drive through barren land in southern California. A few horses, some orange groves, and run-down shacks.

    Linkletter’s friend said he was going to build a theme park, but didn’t have the money to invest in the land around it. He wanted his friend, Art, to get in on it.  The nearly worthless land, his friend claimed, would become a city. It wouldn’t merely double or triple in price, but land values would increase more than a hundredfold.

    https://i0.wp.com/thesimpleparent.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Visting-the-Walt-Disney-Family-Museum-Disneyland.jpgArt was dubious. Who in the world is going to drive out in the middle of nowhere to attend an entertainment park?

    His friend was persistent. He urged Art to buy the big hotel he planned to build next to his theme park. Linkletter balked.

    A few years later, Art Linkletter served as the emcee for the opening day of his friend, Walt Disney’s theme park, Disneyland. In the years to follow, Linkletter would walk around Disneyland and sigh, “And there’s another million I missed out on.”

    Walt Disney wanted Linkletter to act, not on what he saw, but on what would be in the future.  Not an easy thing to do.

    We often say, “I’ll believe it when I see it.” But God often asks us to believe it so that we may see it.  When Isaiah was prophet, God’s people were experiencing tough times. They had been invaded by the Assyrians. The Babylonians were coming next. Yet, in the midst of their hopelessness, God tells them to enlarge their tents and pound their stakes in deeper, because the Lord was going to bring abundance to those who trusted in him.

    Jesus convinced Peter to let down his nets one more time, even though fishing had proved fruitless.  God convinced Abraham to found a land for his descendants, even though his wife was barren. He invites all of us who suffer shame for his name to rejoice and leap for joy. Not because of what is, but because of what will be.

    Dignitaries from around the world gathered on September 5, 1883, for the cornerstone laying of the new state capitol building in Bismarck, North Dakota.

    The feature that stunned the Europeans present was the location.  “It was not in the city,” wrote Britain’s Lord James Bryce. “Nor even on the skirts of the city. It was nearly a mile off, on the top of a hill in the brown and dusty prairie.”

    “Why here?” we asked. “Is it because you mean to include the building in a public park?”

    “By no means,” was the response. “The capitol is intended to be in the center of the city. It is in this direction that the city is to grow.”

    Afterward, Bryce observed, “They see the country — not merely as it is, but as it will be.”

(copyright 2016 by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)
(image:http://thesimpleparent.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Visting-the-Walt-Disney-Family-Museum-Disneyland.jpg)

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Story of the Day for Tuesday January 26, 2016

Offer a Hand

We all make mistakes in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he’s a perfect man.

James 3:2

My sister handed me a glossy brochure she had recently received in the mail from a local bar and restaurant. Without commenting on it, she asked me to read it.

“Oops, they goofed up,” I noted. “We grind and cut are meat daily.” It should say, “our meat.”

“And their New York Strips are spelled STIRPS.”

“Oh, and look at this,” I grinned. “It says, WHILE SURPLIES LAST.”

I read through the entire brochure and pointed out more mistakes. “Too bad they didn’t take more time to do some simple spell checking.”

My sister said, “Did you read the last line?”

The fine print on the bottom said, “NOT RESPOSIBLE FOR TYPOGRAPHICAL ERRORS.”

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/236x/88/af/4f/88af4f0d394bdd65c41be55e49ac575d.jpgThose stinkers! They put the errors in on purpose in order to get us to read their entire brochure. They knew people delighted in finding errors so they used it to their advantage.

What is it about us that we focus so much on other people’s faults?

You can probably guess where this discussion is headed. I point out how quick we are to find fault with others, and then I scowl, and conclude we need to stop it.

But I don’t think it’s that simple. We are adept at seeing faults and mistakes, and I don’t see that as a problem. Could we survive without doing it?

When you board a flight, do you want the mechanic inspecting the plane to focus only on what is good about the jet engine? Or do you want him to have an eagle eye to detect the slightest stress fracture?

When we drive in slippery road conditions, we don’t focus on the many times we have turned a corner without problems. We focus on that one time we failed to slow down enough and slid into the ditch.

If we lack the capacity for spotting even the slightest errors, in ourselves or others, I don’t believe our stay on this earth will be a lengthy one.

I don’t think we can help detecting faults in others. But judging others for their faults while we are tone deaf to our own is a constant spiritual hazard.

During the Civil War, Confederate general, Braxton Bragg tended to find fault with everyone. Once, he served as both quartermaster and company commander. As quartermaster, he would send a requisition for supplies. But when he received the request as company commander, he refused to grant the requisition. The post commandant took a look at the correspondence and threw up his hands. “My God, Mr. Bragg, you have quarreled with every officer in the army, and now you are quarreling with yourself!”

Theirs nothing wrong with noticing when others stumble. We reflect the the grace of God, however, when, instead of scoffing, we offer a hand to help them up.

(copyright 2016 by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)
(image: https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/236x/88/af/4f/88af4f0d394bdd65c41be55e49ac575d.jpg)

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Story of the Day for Tuesday January 19, 2016

What’s Going to Happen Next?

If serving the Lord isn’t desirable to you, then choose right now whom you will serve . . .

Joshua 24:15

https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/sites/default/files/legacy/Health/donatelife/images/donate.jpgResearchers Daniel Goldstein and Eric J. Johnson noticed that several European countries had nearly 100 percent of its citizens voluntarily participating in an organ donor program. Other countries had very few signed up to donate their organs.

Why would some countries have such a high percentage of organ donors while other countries had so few? What do you think?

Most people would conclude that the disparity between the percentage of organ donors is due to culture. If most citizens of a country felt that organ donation was unnatural or banned by one’s religion, that would explain the difference.

But that’s not the reason. Countries sharing similar cultures show a marked contrast. For example, in Sweden 86% signed up for the organ donor program; in Denmark next door, only 4% have done the same. Germany has only 12%, while Austria has almost 100% participation. The Netherlands (after writing to every household in the nation pleading with them to join the organ donor program) has 28%. Belgium, which borders the Netherlands, has 98% of its citizens signed up in an organ donor program.

The stark contrast by nation in organ donor participation can be explained by the Department of Motor Vehicles. When citizens from Denmark, Germany, or the Netherlands renew their drivers licenses, they are asked to check a box if they want to become an organ donor. In Sweden, Austria, and Belgium, drivers are asked to check a box if they DON’T want to become an organ donor.

Both groups tend not to check the box.

The more important an issue becomes, the more we become reluctant to make a decision.

We don’t make decisions to believe. We either believe in the Easter Bunny or we don’t. We either believe or don’t believe that grass grows or that God exists.

But once we believe anything, we must daily make decisions based on what we believe to be true — whether it’s hiding our own Easter eggs, mowing the lawn, or praying.

When God’s people were returning to the Promised Land, Joshua gathered the people at Shechem, and he told them the story of what God had done for them. Joshua reminded them of how the Lord led their forefathers, how God worked with power to liberate them from their slavery in Egypt.

After Joshua convinced the people of the steadfast care of the God of Israel, he called for them to decide: “Choose this day whom you will serve.”

Faith comes first; then decision. You must first believe that diet contributes to good health before you decide to cut down on the lardburgers and fries.

Once you believe in the beauty of the life that Jesus lays before you, you must decide what’s going to happen next.

(text copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)
image: (https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/sites/default/files/legacy/Health/donatelife/images/donate.jpg)

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Story of the Day for Thursday December 3, 2015

Very Cheerfully

Jesus said to the disciples, “Let’s go back to Judea.” His disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews are trying to stone you to death, and you want to go back there?”

John 11:7-8

https://i0.wp.com/www.ournationalparks.us/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/bigsouthfork4.jpg

Lewis and Clark faced a dilemma. As the Corps of Discovery headed up the Missouri River, they came to a fork. The expedition was way behind schedule. If they took the wrong fork, they would not be able to cross the mountains before winter and the expedition would be forced to turn back.

The men unanimously agreed the muddy northern river was the correct fork to take. Up to this point, after all, the Missouri River had the same muddy color. But Lewis and Clark disagreed. They reasoned that the Missouri should eventually be getting clear if it flowed from the mountains. Meriwether Lewis tried to convince the men that the south fork was the true Missouri, but still the entire party, to a man, disagreed.

Lewis and Clark held firm and announced they were going to take the south fork.

Despite the crew’s disagreement, they all said they were ready to “very cheerfully” follow wherever their leaders chose to take them. After the co-captains announced their decision, the men passed the evening in dancing and singing. Lewis recorded in his journal that the men were “extremely cheerful.”

Oh, and, by the way, Lewis and Clark were right. The south fork was the Missouri.

Why do people follow a leader? Some leaders force others to follow against their will. The Corps of Discovery, however, could easily have mutinied had they felt they were being forcibly led to their own destruction.

People will willingly follow a good leader. Some choose to follow a leader because they are convinced the leader knows the best way to go. Yet, the Corps of Discovery clearly believed their leaders did not know the proper way to go.

The greatest leaders are those you will follow – even when you don’t agree with their decisions. You follow – not because you understand your leader, but because you trust him.

When word came to Jesus that his friend, Lazarus, was dying, he told his disciples they were going to Judea. His disciples helpfully pointed out that the Jews in Judea were trying to murder him. Jesus, however, ignored the threat and invited his disciples to go with him. Thomas then said to the rest, “Let’s go too, that we may die with him.”

Jesus’ disciples followed him – not because he forced them against his will, and not because he convinced them it was a good idea. They didn’t understand him; they simply trusted him, and were willing to follow him anywhere.

Jesus will not force you to follow him. And, sometimes, you will be convinced that doing things his way is not the best way to go. The day will inevitably come when you will be called to follow him simply because you have learned to trust him.

And to follow “very cheerfully.”

(text copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre) (image: http://www.ournationalparks.us/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/bigsouthfork4.jpg)

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