Stories for Oct. 12-16, 2010

Story of the Day for  Saturday October 16, 2010

The Joy of a Two-Stroke Penalty

. . . We are certain we have a clear conscience.  We want to behave honorably in all we do.

Hebrews 13:18

Professional golfers play by strict, unbending rules. The rules state the situations where you must play the ball where it lies, and when you are allowed to move it. They even have rules for playing the ball if you hit it into an alligator’s mouth (I’m not making this up!)

In 1994, Davis Love III was playing in the Western Open near Chicago. He chipped a shot close to the hole and put a marker where his ball lay, but then moved his marker so it would be out of the putting line of the next golfer.

Later, as they continued play, Love couldn’t remember if he moved his marker back to the original spot. Whether he did or not, it made no difference to his “gimme” putt.  He probably moved his marker according to the rules, but he just couldn’t remember.

The rule book states that, if you think it’s possible you committed an infraction, and no one else was present to judge the case, then you have committed an infraction.

So, Love penalized himself with a two-stroke penalty.

That penalty he called on himself knocked him out of the tournament. Without that penalty, he would have automatically qualified for the Masters.

In the end, it all worked out well for Love. He did qualify for the Masters by winning a PGA tournament in 1995. And he came in second in the Masters – winning over a quarter million dollars.  But he did not know this at the time he gave himself the penalty that disqualified him from the tournament.

In his book, Every Shot I Take, Love does not consider what he did that day to be worthy of praise, and quotes Bobby Jones, “Don’t praise me for calling a penalty on myself. You might as well praise a man for not robbing a bank.”  Yet, most ignore Love’s self-effacing comments and praise him anyway.

But, some think he is a fool. Why penalize yourself two strokes when you’re not even sure you committed a penalty? Why penalize yourself when, even if you did make a mental error, it was not intentional? And it did not affect your score?  And, after asking everyone present, no one saw you commit a penalty?

Love’s defends the inflexible rules of his golf: “This may sound harsh to the non-golfer, but it’s not. Adhered to strictly, it eliminates the possibility of a golfer playing with a guilty conscience.”

Did you get that?  Love believes the money and fame is not worth it, if he does not have a clear conscience.

Yes, absolutely yes – Jesus can and will cleanse us when we have a guilty conscience. But we also need the wisdom to see that living an honorable life is more satisfying than all the money and fame this world can offer.

(Copyright 2010 by and by Marty Kaarre)

Story of the Day for Friday October 15, 2010

What Music Can You Play on a Broken Stradivarius?

And the God of all grace . . . will restore, establish, strengthen, and set you on a firm foundation.

1 Peter 5:10

Peter Cropper, from Sheffield, England, is a distinguished violinist. He is so good, he was asked to perform at the prestigious Kuhmo Music Festival in Finland.

The Royal Academy of Music in London honored him by loaning him the use of a priceless Stradivarius violin. The violin, made by Antonio Stradivari was 258 years old and was made in his “Golden period.” It was considered one of the most valuable violins in the world.

On the night of the festival, Mr. Cropper hurried on stage and tripped on an extension cord. He fell on the Stradivarius and broke the neck completely off.

Peter was inconsolable.

Charles Beare offered to repair the violin. The Royal Academy thanked Beare for his gracious offer, but assured him a broken Strad could never be repaired. But Cropper urged the Academy to see what Beare could do, and they finally relented and handed the violin over to Beare.

Beare spent endless hours trying to repair the broken neck and a cracked bass bar with animal glue. After a month he presented the violin to the Academy. With Cropper in attendance they looked in astonishment – they could not find the slightest sign that the violin had ever been damaged.

Not only did the restored violin look impeccable, but Cropper said, “. . . the violin is now in better shape than ever, producing a much more resonant tone.” That next week he performed with the Lindsay Quartet in Carnegie Hall, playing the restored Stradivarius.

We all fail in life.

So, what does God think about us when we botch things up? We know that He cares deeply about behaving the right way, so it stands to reason He is furious when we do wrong.

Yes, God does care deeply about living rightly, because living wrongly creates so much pain to ourselves and others. But He’s the God of grace.

Jesus never walked the streets with a clipboard – sifting out the rejects and patting the righteous on the head. If Jesus only approved of those who never failed in life, there would be no heads to pat.

Never write the chapter of your failures as the last chapter of your story. The Lord, as a master craftsman, always offers to take the broken pieces of your heart, and restore you.

And make you stronger than before.

(Copyright 2010 by and by Marty Kaarre)

Story of the Day for Thursday October 14, 2010

Working at Happiness

It is God’s gift that everyone would see good in all his labor.

Ecclesiastes 3:13

A Chinese proverb says, “If you want to be happy for an hour, get drunk. If you want to be happy for three days, get married. If you want to be happy for eight days, kill your pig and eat it. If you want to be happy forever, learn to fish.”

Now, — don’t even think it – I’m not advocating getting drunk, and my wife and I have shared 28 years together, and we’re still on our honeymoon. Last month, we butchered our pigs, and I’ve been happy about that for several weeks.

We want to commend, however, the wisdom of the Chinese in seeing the vital connection between work and happiness.  Researchers at Gothenburg University in Sweden published their findings that people are made happy by working toward a goal (not the attainment, but the striving).

And this is where things get bollixed up. We tend to focus on the money (i.e., the “attainment”) as the source of happiness, when it is really the striving (i.e., the work) that brings fulfillment.

We are made in the image of God. As God creates, so he has made us to create – to be creative.  Work really is meant to be satisfying.

One of the most respected studies on job satisfaction was done a few years ago at the University of Chicago.  The school’s National Opinion Research Center found little correlation between job satisfaction and money. Nor is there a link between job satisfaction and time for leisure (two of the top three happiest professions work over 50 hours a week).

What makes a job satisfying? Helping other people, being creative, and using special talents and expertise.

Want to know the profession that produces the greatest job satisfaction? (Are you ready for this?) Pastors.  They are followed by physical therapists, firefighters, school principals, artists, teachers, authors, psychologists, and special education teachers.

Beside the school principals and psychologists, the pay is average.  But when we  are active in helping and using our God-given creativity, we are the happiest in our work.

The point of all this, however, is not that you need the right job to find fulfillment. What you need is the right attitude.  Figure out how your work serves others. Be creative. And recognize the uniqueness of the talents God gave you.

Final note: Although the University of Chicago doesn’t consider this an “occupation,” I believe the most satisfying job involves long hours and no pay. The occupation is called: “being a mom.”

(Copyright 2010 by and by Marty Kaarre)

Story of the Day for Wednesday October 13, 2010

The Most Contagious Disease

Then the people from the area discouraged the people of Judah, and frightened them from continuing to build. .

Ezra 4:4

One of the most contagious diseases known to man is discouragement.

All great achievements have come about because people persevered in the face of seemingly impossible odds. In 1915, Ernest Shackleton gathered a group of adventurous men and set out to be the first ones to traverse the entire continent of Antarctica. But they never reached the mainland before ice flows trapped their ship, and crushed it.

Alone on an ice flow, with no one to call for help, they embarked on a desperate attempt for survival. The odds were grim.

If you were their leader, what would you determine was the greatest need for your men?  Food? Warmth? Shelter? All these are vital for survival.  But great leaders realize that, in times of crises, morale is vital. One man’s skepticism could demoralize the entire crew. Optimism would not guarantee their survival, but without it, failure was certain.

So, what did Shackleton do? Alfred Lansing, in his book, Endurance, describes how Shackleton made sure Frank Hurley attended the high-level meetings. Hurley was not an officer, nor did he have any previous Antarctic experience. Shackleton included him because he knew that Hurley needed to feel important and did not want him spreading discontent to the others. When Shackleton made tent assignments, he put Hudson, James, and Hurley in his tent. Why? Because these were the men most likely to discourage the rest of the crew.

After surviving the Antarctic winter the crew climbed into lifeboats and made their way through the ice flows to Elephant Island. With his crew very weak, but on dry land, Shackleton needed to leave immediately in a row boat and travel almost a thousand miles to find help. He chose Worsley because he was the best navigator, and McCarthy, because he was built like a bull. But the others, Crean, McNeish, and Vincent were chosen to accompany him because they were the ones who were the most pessimistic at the time. After a year and a half of struggle, Shackleton and all his crew were rescued.

When God’s people began rebuilding the temple, their enemies didn’t force them to quit. Instead, they tried to discourage them so that the people would decide to quit.

Pessimists like to point out what great achievers already know: that the odds their venture will fail is high. And, once any group is convinced it will fail, its downfall is ensured.

Those who refuse to give in to discouragement – who persevere through innumerable obstacles, are the ones who are most likely to attain success.

Has the Lord called you to a high goal?  Don’t give in to discouragement.

(Copyright 2010 by and by Marty Kaarre)

** apologizes for neglecting to post a story for Monday October 11th.  Pastor Marty was at a wedding in a remote location in northwestern Montana without electricity and internet!  Enjoy today’s story!

Story of the Day for Tuesday October 12, 2010

How to Make Hubert Humphrey Invisible

The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers so that they don’t see the light of the glorious good news of Christ . . .

2 Corinthians 4:4

Hubert Humphrey is the patron saint of politicians to Minnesotans.  As an influential senator, and former vice-president, he was wildly popular in his home state.

Once, while traveling with a friend, Humphrey stopped at a gas station to use the rest room.  Humphrey’s friend gazed at a tour bus as it pulled into the gas station.  Immediately, he hatched a brilliant and devious plan.

He walked onto the tour bus and asked where they were from.  After a little chit-chat, he said, “Can I ask a small favor of you?  I have a friend who has a weekend pass from the mental institute.  His problem is that he thinks he’s Hubert Humphrey!  Matter of fact, he does look a bit like Humphrey.  But, he’s harmless, and I was wondering if I could bring him on the bus, and you could pretend he really is Hubert Humphrey.”

The people on the tour bus agreed to the plan.

When Humphrey returned to the car, his friend said, “Hey, Hube!  As you were going inside, this tour bus pulled up, and they recognized you.  They’re asking me if they can meet you.  Would you mind going on the tour bus and greeting them?”

No problem.  Humphrey hopped into the tour bus and went down the aisle, shaking hands and introducing himself.

When he got back in the car, his friend asked him how it went.  Humphrey had a puzzled look on his face.  “It was the oddest thing,” he said, “every time I shook their hand and told them my name, they giggled.”

The people on the tour bus shook hands with one of the most famous citizens of their state.  They saw him, but they didn’t see him.

Jesus encountered the same thing.  Who was this man?  To the religious leaders, who saw him as a threat to their authority, he was demon possessed. Herod Antipas was haunted by a guilty conscience after he executed a holy man, John the Baptist.  When he heard of Jesus, he said, “John the Baptist, whose head I cut off, has come back from the dead.”  Others thought they were seeing a lunatic, a prophet, an imposter.

Everyone could see Jesus, but not everyone  could see him.

“Yeah, but how do we know we’re not the ones who are deceived?”

Good question.

When skeptics objected to Jesus’ true identity, he pointed them to the truth.  When the religious authorities confronted him about his identity, he pointed them to the Scriptures.  When his compassion was questioned by an untouchable leper, he touched him (and healed him).  Jesus does not shrink from honest questions; he invites them.

We are bombarded by lies and deception.  Jesus cuts through the fog, and sets before us the light of truth.  Don’t be afraid to follow the evidence to see where it leads.

(Copyright 2010 by and by Marty Kaarre)