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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

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 http://cdn.tristro.net/catalog/878/full/t25703-whatever.jpg  

 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 February 25, 2016

Dragons Can be Beaten

We exalt in our sufferings, because we know suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.

Romans 5:3

 

    When my grade school friend, Ben, got a chemistry set for Christmas, his world changed. He no longer wanted to be an astronaut; now he was destined to become a scientist.

    Ben wasn’t interested in the chemistry kit manual, however, which showed you things like how to mix baking soda in a solution to make a balloon expand. He was a scientific inventor and wanted to discover things on his own. (And, with a little luck, make things blow up.)

    When you read a lot, like Ben did, you learn that there are sugars in urine. “If we could discover how to extract them . . . ” he mused.

    When you give a boy a test tube and a Bunsen burner, something’s bound to happen. Trust me, you don’t want to know how this experiment turned out. We all love stories with happy endings, but this is not one of them. Let’s just say scientific advancement made little progress that day.

    Ben died a few years ago. The scientific community benefited greatly the day he decided to become a musician instead. And then an engineer. And world traveler. But though he never became a scientific inventor, as I look back on his life, I see how his curiosity, creativity, and failed chemistry experiments all worked together to create the adventurous life he enjoyed.

    None of us is good at foreseeing how our lives will turn out. Marshall McLuhan said, “We drive into the future using only our rear view mirror.”

    When we get old and look back on our lives, I doubt any of us will say our lives worked out as we imagined it would in our youth. I doubt most of us will retire from the career we foresaw in sixth grade. But the thing that will surprise us most isn’t the career changes, but the suffering. The failures. The losses.

    If we trust in God, shouldn’t the arc of our lives be filled with continual victory and blessing? In a word, no. God’s agenda is radically different from our own. We always ask kids what they want to be when they grow up; God is more interested in who we want to be.

 https://i2.wp.com/www.clipartbest.com/cliparts/niE/x6M/niEx6MBiA.jpeg   Through all our broken dreams, God is teaching us to persevere. Through that stubborn determination he is building our character. And through the building of our character he is teaching us to overcome all obstacles through his help and strength.

    “Fairy tales are more than true,” says Neil Gaiman, “not because they tell us dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”

    All of the plot twists in our lives are conspiring to help us become the person God desires us to be, because, in the end, it’s not what we’ve become, but who we’ve become that matters.

(copyright 2016 by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)
(image: http://www.clipartbest.com/cliparts/niE/x6M/niEx6MBiA.jpeg)

 

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Story of the Day for Friday October 23, 2015

Taking the Blame for a Wild Pitch

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http://www.wiseman.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/blame.jpg

“Have you eaten from the tree I commanded you not to eat from?” “The woman you gave me, gave it to me to eat, and I ate it.” Then the Lord God asked the woman, “What is this you’ve done?” And the woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

Genesis 3:11-13

Contrary to public opinion, blame was not first discovered by political talk show hosts. Blaming others goes back to the Garden. God asks Adam if he ate from the tree. Instead of admitting it, he blames both God and Eve: “the woman YOU gave me . . .” When God directs his question to Eve, she passes the blame to the Serpent.

TV station managers love bad weather because it’s news. Meteorologists, on the other hand, hate storms. They have learned that people are furious and rain down obscenities on them when bad weather hits the area. One forecaster in Louisville said she hates to go to the grocery store during storms because everyone blames her for the bad weather.

And blaming others is contagious. Nathanael J. Fast from USC and Larissa Tiedens from Stanford published a study on “Blame Contagion.” In one experiment, half the participants read a newspaper article that said Gov. Schwarzenegger blamed special interest groups for a costly special election that failed. The other half read an article in which the California governor took full responsibility for the failure.

Afterward, participants were asked to write about a personal failure and add who was responsible. Those who read the article where the governor blamed special interest groups were more likely to blame others for their failure; those who read the second article tended to accept responsibility for their actions.

Every troubled organization knows about the “circular firing squad.” Pointing fingers and assigning blame, Fast and Tiedens discovered, is especially prevalent among people who feel insecure.

This is why God’s grace is so beautiful. We can have the courage to take responsibility for our failures, because when we do, God will forgive us. Our sense of security is not based on our goodness, but on the knowledge that we are safe in God.

When we know we’re forgiven, there’s no longer a need to shift the blame.

The Baltimore Orioles needed a win to tie for first place in the AL East. But, a Toronto Blue Jay runner scored from third on a wild pitch, and the Orioles lost the game.

Afterward, the Orioles catcher Jamie Quirk shouldered the responsibility. “A major-league catcher has to block that ball . . . I should have blocked it . . . I’m a professional catcher.”

And guess what? By taking the blame for a wild pitch, Jamie Quirk didn’t receive scorn from Orioles fans. He bravely protected his pitcher. And won the admiration of all.

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

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Story of the Day for Friday May 22, 2015

Nothing Glamorous About Roots

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He will be like a tree planted by the water – that sends out its roots. . . It will not be anxious in a year of drought and will never fail to bear fruit.

Jeremiah 17:8

Let’s imagine you buy seeds for a Chinese Bamboo Tree. You plant them in an indoor greenhouse and hope for the best.

But, after a year of watering the soil, nothing has germinated.

Oh well, you just keep on watering the soil for another year. Still nothing. No sprout; no nothing. You notice that the neighbors are beginning to look at you funny.

After the third year of constant care and watering, your best friend sits you down over coffee and gently points out that there is a difference between persistence, which a saintly virtue, and beating your head against a wall, which is the mark of an idiot.

You enter your fourth year of watering, and still nothing has happened. Family members have summoned the nice people in the white lab coats to take you for a little ride, but you hide in the broom closet until they quit looking for you and leave.

And you just keep on watering your seeds.

If you keep watering the seeds of a Chinese Bamboo Tree for four years, you won’t see anything happen. But, in the fifth year, a sprout will shoot up from the soil. And then – are you ready for this? – the tree will grow eighty feet high in the next six weeks!

But notice: the Chinese Bamboo Tree cannot grow eighty feet in six weeks. It can only grow eighty feet in five years.

The Bamboo Tree needs to develop a good root system first. The first four years of growth are all underground, and we can’t see what’s going on down there.

Let’s face it: there is nothing glamorous about roots. And not only that, if conditions stay perfect, a tree doesn’t really need deep roots.

But conditions never stay perfect. When the storms come, they will topple you over unless you’ve got deep roots. When the drought comes, your leaves will wither unless you’ve sunk deep roots.

Learning to find our strength in the Lord is like sending roots deep underground. The daily discipline of prayer and meditation and study is not something others see. No one will marvel at your prayer time nor applaud when you read your Bible.

But when the tough times come, you’ll find that the unseen taproot is finding all the water you need.

The pastor of a congregation got sick, and so, with little time to prepare, they asked an old pastor to give the sermon that morning. The sermon was solid, clear, and nourishing. Afterward, a member thanked him for the fine sermon, and then asked, “How long did you take to prepare your sermon?”

The old pastor answered, “Seventy years.”

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

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Story of the Day for Monday September 29, 2014

 

Not Just “Pie in the Sky”

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(http://www.imaworldwide.com/Portals/135807/images/Pie-in-the-Sky-34x28in-1978-1.jpg)

Hope that is seen is not hope, because if he sees it, why does he still hope for it? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it patiently.

Romans 8:24

One of the marks of our secular age is the loss of hope. If we believe that the future will not fulfill our longings, then the result is despair. Hopelessness means not only that the future will be bleak, but the very realization means that our present lives will be marked by gloom.

John Maxwell talks of a small town in Maine that stood in the way of a proposed hydroelectric dam. All the residents were told that their town would be submerged by the dam and they would have to relocate.

As construction began on the dam, the town changed. No one painted their house. Roads and sidewalks were not repaired. Long before the dam was finished, the town looked shabby and abandoned. One resident noted, “Where there is no faith in the future, there is no power in the present.”

When modern man abandons God, he abandons hope. Sigmund Freud was honest enough to admit, “My courage fails me, therefore, at the thought of rising up as a prophet before my fellowmen. I bow to their reproach that I have no consolation to offer them.”

Many ridicule our Christian hope. They see it as a illusory dream which lulls us into inactivity in the present world. “Pie in the sky by and by.” But that is not how hope works. It does not weaken our daily actions but invigorates them.

To break the back of the South and end the Civil War, General William T. Sherman marched through the heart of the South. As Sherman’s army pushed toward Atlanta, his adversary, General Hood circled north and began attacking his supply line. Hood’s men tore up nine miles of the railroad that supplied Sherman’s huge army. Then the Confederates moved toward the Union’s main supply post at Altoona, which held over a million and a half rations for Sherman’s army.

The Union army had less than 2000 men under Brigadier General John M. Corse to defend Altoona Pass from an advancing Confederate division of over 3000. After furious fighting, Corse had lost a third of his men and was forced to retreat to another position further up the pass. How much longer could Corse hold out?

But then, General Sherman, on the top of Kenesaw Mountain twelve miles away sent a signal-flag message to Corse to “hold fast; we are coming.” Corse’s men let out a cheer. Although the fighting was fierce, Corse’s outnumbered men stubbornly refused to surrender or retreat. They fought valiantly because they knew that help was on the way. It was that hope that enabled them to hold the pass and save the Union supply depot.

The Bible says, “We rejoice in the hope of God’s glory.” But this hope is not just “pie in the sky.” Hope gives us power to persist through all adversity. And that is why Scripture continues, “Not only that, but we also rejoice in our trials, because we know that trials produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character hope. And hope does not disappoint us. . . “

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

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Story of the Day for Monday June 16, 2014

“Get Back on that Pony and Ride”

 

Consider it a sheer joy, my brothers, whenever you encounter different kinds of trials, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance.

James 1:2-3

 

In the spring of 1987, while turkey-hunting near Sacramento, California, Pat accidentally shot his brother-in-law Greg. The blast from the 12 gauge shotgun sent 60 pellets into Greg’s body. His right lung collapsed, and he lost 65 percent of his blood by the time he reached the hospital.

Greg survived, but, to this day, 40 shotgun pellets remain in his body – five in his liver, five in his heart.

Just nine months earlier, Greg LeMond became the first American to win the Tour de France. Now, his career was over.

Or was it? Determined to ride again, Greg got back on his cycle and started riding. To resume his career, he needed a cycling team that would take him. No American team was interested, so Greg’s father flew to Europe to negotiate with the cycling team’s there.

A European team, cautiously, agreed to take Greg on. And, then, of all things, LeMond was crippled in pain and needed intestinal surgery to repair damage from the shooting accident. Before the surgery, Greg instructed the surgeon to remove his appendix. Afterward, he assured the cycling team that the surgery was an appendectomy. “I didn’t tell them a lie,” LeMond later said in an interview “but I didn’t tell them the absolute truth.”

The final leg of the Tour de France is a fifteen mile time trial. In 1989, Laurent Fignon of France has a commanding 50-second lead going into the final sprint to the finish, and he is the fastest time trial racer in the world.

His nearest competitor won’t even look at Fignon’s split times. He tells his own coaches he doesn’t want to know his own splits. He simply digs deep and delivers a dazzling performance – the fastest speed in the history of the Tour de France.

Fignon lost the Tour de France. A young American with 40 shotgun pellets in his body, ended up with the yellow jersey.

After the shooting accident, would anyone blame Greg LeMond if he gave up competitive racing? Who believed that LeMond could ever race again – let alone regain the title as the world’s greatest cyclist?

Has adversity knocked the wind out of you? Know what you need? You need the patient, healing care of the Surgeon. But, once you stagger to your feet, you need to know that God never intended obstacles to stop you; they’re there to strengthen your resolve. Trials are meant to fuel our fire; to ignite the passion to give our all for God.

Yes, it hurts to get bucked off your horse. But shake it off. Dust off your jeans and, as Chris LeDeux sings, “get back on that pony and ride.”

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

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Story of the Day for Tuesday May 27, 2014

Nothing Glamorous About Roots 

                He will be like a tree planted by the water – that sends out its roots. . . It will not be anxious in a year of drought and will never fail to bear fruit. 

Jeremiah 17:8

https://i1.wp.com/www.completebamboo.com/Pic%20Assets/Growing/bamboo_root_moso.jpg

Let’s imagine you buy seeds for a Chinese Bamboo Tree. You plant them in an indoor greenhouse and hope for the best.

But, after a year of watering the soil, nothing has germinated.

Oh well, you just keep on watering the soil for another year. Still nothing. No sprout; no nothing.  You notice that the neighbors are beginning to look at you funny.

After the third year of constant care and watering, your best friend sits you down over coffee and gently points out that there is a difference between persistence, which a saintly virtue, and beating your head against a wall, which is the mark of an idiot.

You enter your fourth year of watering, and still nothing has happened. Family members have summoned the nice people in the white lab coats to take you for a little ride, but you hide in the broom closet until they quit looking for you and leave.

And you just keep on watering your seeds.

If you keep watering the seeds of a Chinese Bamboo Tree for four years, you won’t see anything happen. But, in the fifth year, a sprout will shoot up from the soil. And then – are you ready for this? – the tree will grow eighty feet high in the next six weeks!

But notice: the Chinese Bamboo Tree cannot grow eighty feet in six weeks. It can only grow eighty feet in five years.

The Bamboo Tree needs to develop a good root system first. The first four years of growth are all underground, and we can’t see what’s going on down there.

Let’s face it: there is nothing glamorous about roots. And not only that, if conditions stay perfect, a tree doesn’t really need deep roots.

But conditions never stay perfect. When the storms come, they will topple you over unless you’ve got deep roots. When the drought comes, your leaves will wither unless you’ve sunk deep roots.

Learning to find our strength in the Lord is like sending roots deep underground. The daily discipline of prayer and meditation and study is not something others see. No one will marvel at your prayer time nor applaud when you read your Bible.

But when the tough times come, you’ll find that the unseen taproot is finding all the water you need.

The pastor of a congregation got sick, and so, with little time to prepare, they asked an old pastor to give the sermon that morning.  The sermon was solid, clear, and nourishing. Afterward, a member thanked him for the fine sermon, and then asked, “How long did you take to prepare your sermon?”

The old pastor answered, “Seventy years.”

(text copyright 2012 by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)
(image: http://www.completebamboo.com

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