Get Rid of the Garbage

Story of the Day for Tuesday June 7, 2011

Get Rid of the Garbage

 

                   Get rid of all bitterness and rage, and anger and shouting, and cursing and any kind of evil.  Be kind and compassionate to one another, showing grace to each other, just as in Christ God showed grace to you. 

                                                                       Ephesians 4:31-32

 

 

So, how do we take control of our anger?

For starters, let’s realize that anger does not control us.  We like to say, “You make me so angry,” but no one makes us angry.   We choose to become angry because of our own pride or impatience or selfishness.

 

Secondly, be careful about the environment you choose.  Have you ever watched other groups of people and noticed how they tend to adopt similar habits of behaving?  Though it is much easier to notice in other people, we all do the same thing.  That is why Proverbs 22 says, “Do not make friends with a hot-tempered man.  Do not associate with someone who is easily angered, or you might learn his ways.”

 

Third, don’t resort to cheap fixes.  Find the source.

Let’s suppose my house reeks from rotting garbage.  What can I do?  I could open a window and let in some fresh air.  Good idea, right? And what would that do?  Besides being unpleasant to my neighbors it would only lesson the stench temporarily.

There is another way to relieve the disgusting smell.  Get rid of the garbage!

The Bible tells us to “get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.”  God’s Word isn’t telling us to open a window, but to get rid of the garbage.

We are to replace anger with kindness, compassion, and forgiveness.

That’s great, but how?  The apostle Paul continues, by “showing grace to each other just as, in Christ, God showed grace to you.”

That’s the key.  If we are bitter it is because we haven’t dealt with our own guilt.  Let God forgive you.  He’s not mad at you.   He has taken all his anger for the injustice of our sin on Jesus.   People who have accepted this kind of love from God are well on their way to laying down their anger.

 

Years ago, a pastor told us about visiting one of his members.  As she recounted a grievance about someone from years ago, the pastor expressed surprise that she could even remember all the details that happened so many years ago.

She explained, “Oh, I keep a book.  Every time someone hurts me, I write it all down.”

The pastor then learned she had been keeping a record of grievances for 25 years.  After patiently explaining the beauty of our forgiveness by Christ, he told her she needed to take her book and immediately throw it in the fireplace.

She paused.  Then, with a sigh, her precious book was turned to ash.

They prayed. And then she smiled, because she knew she was free.

 

Lucky Guy

Story of the Day for Monday June 6, 2011

Lucky Guy

 

                    “Blessed is the man who noticed you!”

                                                        Ruth 2:19

 

Christians aren’t supposed to believe in luck, but I do.

Look at every civilization and you’ll find good luck charms, talismans, and the notion that some rituals bring luck while others bring misfortune.  The only problem with charms and superstitions is that they’re bogus – they don’t work. As a matter of fact, trust in a lucky object tends to make you unlucky.  In 2003, British researchers asked 107 financial investors to play a game that simulated a live stock exchange. They mentioned that pressing certain random keys on the keyboard might affect the index.  Those who used the “lucky” keys to gain an advantage performed the worst in the game.

Nevertheless, 77% of people are at least a little superstitious. And, to be honest with you, I would feel just slightly creepy about getting married on Friday the 13th.  Even though I don’t believe it on the inside, it still clings to me on the outside like a bad smell.

 

With all that said, however, I do believe in luck.  In fact, there is a sense in which “luck” is a parallel expression for being “blessed.” This kind of luck is not contrary to God’s control of all things, but a part of it.

Richard Wiseman, perhaps the world’s foremost researcher on luck, conducted the “Luck Project” in which he studied 400 volunteers who admitted they were extraordinarily lucky or unlucky. Wiseman discovered that luck is not magical, nor a result of random chance.  Rather, lucky people act in ways that do not guarantee, but consistently bring, good fortune.

What do they do?  They open their eyes. They learn to “see” opportunity. They are open to the situations in which they find themselves.

So, what does all this have to do with faith? Just this: when we seek to determine the agenda for our lives, we will regularly be disappointed.  When we fail to trust that the Lord is in control, we will see our situation as tragedy and loss. Poor, unlucky us.

But, as we learn the life of God, we can begin to let the Lord work by his agenda instead of our own. We can become open to the act that God works in wondrous ways – and they’re seldom what we would expect.

 

If you were a faithful Israelite, eager to find a good wife, you would probably not notice Ruth. She was a foreigner, a Moabite. She lived in poverty. Unlucky men would not pay her much attention. Their focus would be elsewhere.

But a prosperous and prominent landowner, Boaz, did notice her. When Ruth reported Boaz’ attentions to her mother-in-law, Naomi, she cheered, “Blessed is the man who noticed you!”

God does unlikely things in unlikely ways. Boaz was open enough to see the wonderful woman who would become his wife . . . and through whose line the Savior of the world would come.

Boaz was blessed to be able to notice Ruth. Lucky guy.

                                        (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

Holler Warnings and Encouragement

Story of the Day for Saturday June 4, 2011

Holler Warnings and Encouragement

                   If a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall in a pit. 

                                                                        Matthew 15:14

Leaders are the nucleus of any organization. “Nucleus” is the Latin word for “nut.”  So, if you want to be a leader, it means you have to be . . .

You know something? This isn’t exactly the direction I had hoped this conversation would take. But, since we’re here, we might as well stir things up a little.

The Leadership Movement has been a major theme in recent years – both in the corporate world and in the church. We have learned that leaders must “have a vision” and must confidently guide the masses through “paradigm shifts” into the future.

I’m all for this. Yet, it misses the central core of true leadership.

Stuart Briscoe tells of the time a military veteran died. Some of his fellow vets wanted to have a part in the service at the funeral home, so they asked the pastor to lead them down the aisle to the casket for a solemn moment of remembrance, and then lead them out through the side door at the front.

The service went well until the pastor led them away from the casket. Instead of leading them out the side door, he marched them all into a broom closet – in full view of all the mourners.

What is a leader? Someone who inspires others? Someone who communicates clear goals and motivates others to follow him? Is a great leader someone who can rally the masses around a central vision?

If this is what makes a magnetic leader, then one of the greatest leaders in history is Adolf Hitler. He galvanized a nation, yet, tragically, led them into the darkest days of their history.

The primary requirement of a leader has nothing to do with charisma or “casting vision.” The foremost quality of a leader is that he knows where he’s going.

Jesus warns us that, whenever we follow someone who doesn’t know where they’re going, we’ll all wind up in the broom closet.

We shouldn’t follow leaders who are blind, because, sooner or later, we’ll all stumble into a pit. But the responsibility of avoiding pits and broom closets doesn’t rest with the leader; it rests with us. Jesus doesn’t want leaders to be blind, but he doesn’t want followers to be blind either. It’s up to us to see where the Lord wants us to go, and then find the leader who is willing walk at the front of the line and holler warnings of potential hazards and encouragement until we reach the next watering hole.

To follow a leader who isn’t doing this for us is . . . nuts.

                                       (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

Let’s Fix the Problem

Story of the Day for Friday June 3, 2011

Let’s Fix the Problem

 

                  Look what this godly sorrow has worked in you. . . 

                                                                               2 Corinthians 7:11

 

Craig Brian Larson tells the stories I would like to pass on today.

New York’s Citicorp skyscraper was completed in 1977.   Structural engineers hailed the work of architect, William LeMessurier, as they praised this seventh tallest building in the world.

But a year after the building opened, LeMessurier noticed a frightening error.  Certain joints in the superstructure had been bolted.  Nothing wrong with that, except that LeMessurier had neglected to calculate the extra force of a non-perpendicular wind.  He learned that, once every 16 years, a wind comes along which would be strong enough to collapse the joint on the 13th floor.

No one knew about his mistake. If LeMessurier admitted the error, he could face lawsuits, bankruptcy, and disgrace.  LeMessurier took a deep breath and informed city officials.  Welding, costing several million dollars, began immediately and in three months the structure was pronounced one of the safest structures ever built.

And LeMessurier?  Rather than seeing his career in ruins, his reputation soared.  One engineer praised LeMessurier for having the courage to say, “I got a problem. I made the problem.  Let’s fix the problem.”

 

When we recognize and admit our sin, we usually experience a time of sadness.  We feel a genuine sorrow for how we have failed God and how we have hurt others.

But repentance lifts us out of the pit of sorrow.  Jesus has come to inspect the sorry mess we have created, and to forgive us.  How do you describe the utter relief that comes from being released from your sins?

 

When a child wanders from the path his parents tell him to take and winds up falling into a deep pit, it is comforting to know his parents will come looking for him.  It is more comforting to know that they are more concerned than angry.  But the greatest relief is in knowing that they will do anything to help us climb out of the pit.

The final step, however, is the determination to stay on the trail and avoid the pit.

In 1989, University of Michigan basketball player, Rumeal Robinson stepped to the foul line late in the game.  Down by one point, his two shots could put them back in the lead.  He missed them both and Wisconsin won an upset victory.

Robinson felt bad that his two missed shots cost his team the game.  But he didn’t leave it at that.  He “repented.”  He determined that he would work to become better at shooting free throws and began shooting 100 extra foul shots after each practice.

The University of Michigan made it to the national championship game.  With three seconds left, Rumeal was fouled and went to the free throw line with two shots.  First shot, swish.  Second shot, swish, and the Michigan Wolverines were national champions.

Repentance leads us to good places.

                                                            (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

Even A Bug Can Teach

Story of the Day for Thursday June 2, 2011

Even A Bug Can Teach

 

                 When pride comes, disgrace with follow. With humility comes wisdom.

                                                                      Proverbs 11:2

 

 

The 19th century was the golden age of British conquest. The sun never set on the British Empire, and the cultured English bathed in their glory.

Having conquered and colonized vast uncivilized cultures of the world, in the spring of 1845, they set out to conquer Nature.

Sir John Franklin led the best-funded expedition in history to find the fabled Northwest Passage to the Orient. Two 350-ton vessels were equipped with steel reinforced hulls, a 1000 book library, and heated cabins.

Confident of their invincibility, they defied the arctic seas . . . and lost.  The massive ice flows slammed into their ships and wedged them fast.  For two years they waited for the ice to release its grip, but the ice refused to budge, and all of Franklin’s men perished.

 

Oddly enough, Franklin’s men met the native Inuit of the area. A decade later, Francis Hall spent time with the Inuit, who told him of their encounters with Franklin’s crew. The Inuit gave seal to the starving men, but the British sailors never asked for help in survival. Though the Inuit could travel long distances on their dog sleds, they never asked for help in sending out a rescue party.

The Victorians of this age were intent upon asserting their superiority over all other cultures. They saw the arctic natives as ignorant savages, and refused to swallow their dignity by begging them for assistance.

 

Years later, twenty-eight-year old Roald Amundsen, slipped out of the harbor at Oslo with six others in a small, second-hand fishing boat. They sailed until the arctic winter set in and found themselves in the same vicinity as Franklin’s stranded expedition.

But Amundsen sought out the Inuit. He befriended them and learned their secrets of survival in the arctic. They taught him how to hunt seals and build igloos. He was amazed to find their reindeer clothing far better than his own. He lived on their diet.

When he borrowed their sled dogs for an exploratory trip, he bogged down and had to dump half his supplies to make it back to the Inuit village. They were amused, but showed him how to reduce the friction of the sled runners.

 

When the spring ice thawed and allowed the Norwegians to continue their journey, Amundsen dismayed the crew by refusing to sail. He claimed they still hadn’t learned enough from the Inuit in how to survive in the Arctic.

Amundsen would not only sail on to discover the Northwest Passage, but would later outrace the British to plant the first flag on the South Pole.

 

God tells us in the Bible to observe the behavior of ants and learn from them. Even a bug can teach us spiritual truth, but only the humble have the ears to listen.

                                                                  (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

Got Any Steeples?

Story of the Day for Wednesday June 1, 2011

Got Any Steeples?

 

                 If I don’t understand what someone is saying, I’m a foreigner to the speaker, and he’s a foreigner to me.

                                                                             1 Corinthians 14:11

 

“Got any steeples?”

“Um,” I said, “got any what?”

“Got any steeples?”

Even though I was confident I didn’t have any steeples, I hedged by saying, “I don’t think so.”

Robert, who was fixing my fence, looked puzzled. “I left some here last fall.”

When you don’t understand something, and others think you should, there’s no point in blurting out your ignorance. Those who learn from me resort, instead, to sly subterfuge.

“So,” I asked, “what do you want steeples for?”

Robert looked at me as if I was a duck that had been whacked over the head with a shovel.

“To nile the bob whar.”

To . . . nail the barbed wire! “You want some staples!”

Robert didn’t answer, but gave me a strange look – as if uncertain whether it was worth his time to engage in conversation with a dazed duck.

 

Robert, to put it mildly, was not awed by my intellectual prowess. But, in my defense, you should know that Robert grew up in Oklahoma – which can stunt anyone’s linguistic clarity.

 

Once, this guy was walking down the street when he noticed a man struggling by himself with a washing machine at the doorway of his house.

“Can I help?”

The man smiled, and between heaving breaths, replied, “Yeah, thanks!”

With one man on each end they lifted and grunted, and pushed, but nothing happened.

“Sorry,” the Good Samaritan told the man, “I don’t think the two of us can get this washing machine inside by ourselves.”

“Inside? I’m trying to get it out of my house.”

 

Ask a non-Christian what we believe, and most will say our faith is about trying to be good enough to get to heaven, and condemning everyone else who isn’t as holy as we are. Have you ever wondered whether all of them reject the mercy of Jesus, or whether, sometimes, they simply don’t know what we’re trying to say?

 

This evening, I asked my wife if she was awed by my intellectual prowess.

From the blank look she gave me you’d think I came from Oklahoma, or something.

                                         (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)