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Story of the Day for Friday January17, 2014 

 

The Shibboleth Test 

 

The men of Gilead would ask, “Are you from Ephraim?” If he replied, “No,” they responded, “All right, then, say ‘Shibboleth’.” 

Judges 12:5-6      

 

In the 1930s, F. C. Brown found an English translation of traffic instructions in a Japanese police station.  Among other things, it warned: 

 “When a passenger of the foot hove in view, tootle the horn; trumpet at him melodiously at first, but if he still obstacles your passage tootle him with vigor.”  

“Beware of the wandering hourse that he shall not take fright as you pass him by. Do not explode the exhause box at him.”  

“Go soothingly on the grease road as there lurks the skid demon.”   

These traffic instructions have an eloquent charm about them, but we immediately recognize it as the work of someone who learned English as a second language.   

 

We can spot foreigners by how they speak, but also by how they think and act. When U.S. pilots were shot down in France during World War II, German soldiers were trained to spot them by looking for men who whistled and walked with their hands in their pockets. Americans didn’t see that these traits made them stand out as foreigners.  

https://i2.wp.com/larryferlazzo.edublogs.org/files/2012/02/the-onion-logo-2gw0sdn.jpg

The Onion is billed as “America’s Finest News Source,” and appears to be a legitimate on-line news agency. But as soon as you scan their news stories you realize they‘re all spoofs.  

In May of 2002, the Onion ran a story about Congress threatening to move out of Washington D.C. unless they got a new capitol.  Instead of a “drafty old building” they proposed a new building with a retractable dome and were prepared to move to Memphis or Charlotte, North Carolina, unless their demands were met.  

China’s Beijing Evening News, which reaches an audience of a million people, picked up the story and reported it as serious news.   

 

In the Bible, the tribe of Ephraim got into a squabble with Jephthah and the men of Gilead. As Ephraimites crossed the ford of the Jordan River, they were approached by men from Gilead.  How could the men of Gilead know whether they were enemy soldiers? They had a simple test: “Say ‘Shibboleth’.” The Ephraimites couldn’t pronounce the first syllable like a native, and would say “sibboleth.”  

 

Jesus warned that the flock of believers would be infiltrated by wolves dressed in sheep’s clothing. Since then, there has been no end of hucksters and false teachers posing as true Christians.  

How do you tell the difference? Look for the foreign accent: the sappy, phony grin, the self-serving prophecies, behavior that doesn’t reflect a message drenched with grace.  

We shouldn’t be surprised if outsiders to the faith can’t distinguish sincere believers from counterfeits.  They lump us all in the same pile. We’re all foreigners to them.  

But we shouldn’t make the same mistake. The Good News is our “Shibboleth Test.” 

(copyright 2012 by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre
(image: http://larryferlazzo.edublogs.org/files/2012/02/the-onion-logo-2gw0sdn.jpg)
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Story of the Day for Friday September 13, 2013 

 

Seeing What You’re Looking For 

 

                      Jesus spoke to the crowds about John, “What did you go out into the desert to see?” 

Matthew 11:7           

 

The people flocked to John the Baptist when he preached at the Jordan River. Jesus asked them what they went out there to see. It’s a good question because we almost always see the thing we’re looking for.   

Focus, for example, on the color blue, and you will see it everywhere.  

http://i.ebayimg.com/t/Jacques-Plante-Montreal-Canadiens-11x14-Black-Wood-Framed-Pro-Quotes-Photo-/00/s/NDg5WDYwMA==/$T2eC16VHJIkE9qU3kIlCBQDGupJ2pw~~60_35.JPG

JacquesPlanteis, perhaps, the greatest goalie who ever played hockey. He led the Canadiens to six Stanley Cups and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1978.  

Plantewas an innovative genius. He was the first goaltender to play the puck outside the crease, the first to skate behind the net to stop the puck for defensemen, the first to raise his arms to signal an icing call to his teammates, the first to regularly wear a face mask – which enabled him to throw his body to stop a shot.  

Yet, Plante realized that the fans noticed his occasional mistakes far more than his brilliant play in goal. He once asked, “How would you like a job where, if you make a mistake, a big red light goes on and eighteen thousand people boo?”  

We tend to look for mistakes.  

 

Sometimes, when teaching a class, I would take my black marker and make one small dot in the middle of the whiteboard.  

“What do you see?” I’d ask.  

“A black dot.”  

“Anything else?”  

“No.”  

Then I’d explain that what they were seeing was a large expanse of white, yet we become so focused on the little black dot that the whiteness of the board “disappears.”  

When we focus on other people’s faults, we will see them.  There’s nothing wrong, of course, with wanting to help people with their shortcomings, but a critical spirit is harmful because it distorts reality. We no longer see the good characteristics of others when what we want to see are other people’s faults.  

 

When Philip Yancey moved to Colorado, he learned about noxious weeds which were threatening the survival of native plants. In his book, Prayer, he writes about buying a weed-puller and walking up the hill behind his house to look for noxious weeds. He would spot oxeye daisy, Russian thistle, and toadflax.  

One day, Yancey’s wife accompanied him and pointed out more than twenty species of wildflowers. Philip said, “I had been so intent on finding the weeds that my eyes had skipped right past the wildflowers adorning the hills – the very flowers my weed-pulling endeavored to protect!”  

 

Consider carefully what you’re looking for in life, because you will invariably see it.  

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Story of the Day for Tuesday January 29, 2013

 

Don’t Sell Them a Lantern

                Jesus sent messengers on ahead to go into a Samaritan village to prepare for his stay. But the Samaritans would not welcome him because his destination was Jerusalem.   

                                                                       Luke 9:52-53

In the late 1800s, a young William C. Coleman got a job selling typewriters. He left his home in Kansas on a sales trip to Alabama, and noticed a stunningly bright lamp shining in a store window. He discovered that, while lanterns used kerosene for fuel, a company from Memphis, Tennessee used gasoline instead.

Coleman quit selling typewriters and began selling gas lanterns. The lantern company owner offered Coleman both their patent and franchise, so he quickly scrambled together enough money to buy the company.

In 1900, he took his business west and set up shop in Kingfisher, Oklahoma. But he was crushed to discover that no one wanted to buy his lanterns. Another company had already been in the area selling an inefficient brand of gas lantern. Repeatedly, he heard the same story: “Don’t try to sell me one of those. Already bought one. They don’t work; they won’t be lit.”  Everyone had gone back to their dim, but reliable, kerosene lamps.

 C. A. Roberts, in his book, A Life Worth Living, relates how the discouraged young salesman returned to his dark hotel room. He could see people in the store across the street, which was dimly lit by three kerosene lamps.

Then the insight hit him: “I’ll stop selling lamps and start selling light!”  https://i0.wp.com/images.drillspot.com/pimages/1404/140407_300.jpg

He raced across the street to see the storeowner, who reminded him he wasn’t interested in his gas lanterns. But Coleman told him he wasn’t selling lanterns; he was selling light. “You pay me to light your store. If the lamps don’t work, that’s my problem.”  He didn’t ask the storeowner to pay for the lantern – only the light.

Customers loved the idea, and soon he was servicing customers as far away as San Diego. William soon became wealthy as the founder of the Coleman Lantern Company.

You can hardly imagine hatred more intense than that between the Israelites and the Samaritans. Galileans traveling south to Jerusalem would cross the Jordan River and make a loop around Samaria, rather than travel through it.

Jesus, however, loved Samaritans. He offered an immoral Samaritan woman the water of life. We still speak today of being a “Good Samaritan” based on the story Jesus told to a Jewish lawyer.

As he began his final journey to Jerusalem, Jesus ignored the circuitous road and traveled straight south from Galilee to Jerusalem. When Samaritans learned he was heading for Jerusalem, however, they refused to show him any hospitality.

Jesus didn’t get angry. He understood. The Samaritans, like many you know, have been deeply hurt and mistreated by others in the name of religion.

Usually, the first thing they need is not a sermon, but a listening ear. And don’t try to sell them a lantern. Let them see, instead, the brightness of the Light.

(text copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)
(photo credit: http://images.drillspot.com/pimages/1404/140407_300.jpg)

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Story of the Day for Tuesday August 7, 2012

Seeing What You’re Looking For

                      Jesus spoke to the crowds about John, “What did you go out into the desert to see?” 

                                                    Matthew 11:7

The people flocked to John the Baptist when he preached at the Jordan River. Jesus asked them what they went out there to see. It’s a good question because we almost always see the thing we’re looking for.

Focus, for example, on the color blue, and you will see it everywhere.

Jacques Plante is, perhaps, the greatest goalie who ever played hockey. He led the Canadiens to six Stanley Cups and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1978.

Plante was an innovative genius. He was the first goaltender to play the puck outside the crease, the first to skate behind the net to stop the puck for defensemen, the first to raise his arms to signal an icing call to his teammates, the first to regularly wear a face mask – which enabled him to throw his body to stop a shot.

Yet, Plante realized that the fans noticed his occasional mistakes far more than his brilliant play in goal. He once asked, “How would you like a job where, if you make a mistake, a big red light goes on and eighteen thousand people boo?”

We tend to look for mistakes.

Sometimes, when teaching a class, I would take my black marker and make one small dot in the middle of the whiteboard.

“What do you see?” I’d ask.

“A black dot.”

“Anything else?”

“No.”

Then I’d explain that what they were seeing was a large expanse of white, yet we become so focused on the little black dot that the whiteness of the board “disappears.”

When we focus on other people’s faults, we will see them.  There’s nothing wrong, of course, with wanting to help people with their shortcomings, but a critical spirit is harmful because it distorts reality. We no longer see the good characteristics of others when what we want to see are other people’s faults.

When Philip Yancey moved to Colorado, he learned about noxious weeds which were threatening the survival of native plants. In his book, Prayer, he writes about buying a weed-puller and walking up the hill behind his house to look for noxious weeds. He would spot oxeye daisy, Russian thistle, and toadflax.

One day, Yancey’s wife accompanied him and pointed out more than twenty species of wildflowers. Philip said, “I had been so intent on finding the weeds that my eyes had skipped right past the wildflowers adorning the hills – the very flowers my weed-pulling endeavored to protect!”

Consider carefully what you’re looking for in life, because you will invariably see it.

(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre) 

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