No Bellybutton?

Story of the Day for Tuesday July 5, 2011

No Bellybutton?

 

                 Don’t conform to this age, but be transformed in the renewal of your mindset. 

                                 Romans 12:2

 

What if you didn’t have a bellybutton? You’d feel pretty stupid, right? It’s not as if our navel serves any vital purpose, but we still want one so we will be like everyone else.

Yeah, yeah – I realize some of you still insist you’re nonconformists, and don’t care if you have a bellybutton – or what anyone thinks about it.

Okay, then, let’s imagine you have three eyes: one in the middle of your forehead, and one over each ear. This, now, increases your peripheral vision. Yet, even with your physical advantage over others, you would still rather have two eyes . . . simply because everyone else does.

The fact is, we all have a deep desire to fit in with others. This desire to conform is not a sin – far from it, it’s the way God has wired us.  We are created to live in community. We need to conform to certain values and behaviors in order to exist as a society.

 

All that said, conformity sometimes gets us into trouble.  It’s one thing to want a bellybutton or to wear clothes like other people wear. But, many times we do harmful things simply because “everyone else is doing it.”

 

Three years ago, our family drove to the Midwest. We hit road construction in western North Dakota. Two construction crew trucks with flashing yellow lights, occupied both lanes, and slowly led us down the freeway.

Some drivers, however, kept weaving from one lane to the other to pass. They would find the smallest opening and squeeze ahead of the car in front of them – even though everyone had to follow the construction vehicles.

When we came to the town of Ray, the construction ended and the two pace trucks pulled off into a parking lot. Surprisingly, the cars that had spent the last half hour weaving to the front followed the pace trucks. They followed each other, and filled the parking lot so no one could move. Now, apparently, they would have to wait until the mile-long line of cars passed before they could even back up.

We shouldn’t find pleasure at the misfortune of others. But as I sped down the freeway east of Ray, I laughed so hard I could hardly see to drive.

 

When we’re immersed in a culture, it’s extremely difficult to recognize how our behavior mimics those around us – just as a fish may have a difficult time recognizing that it’s wet.

The Lord doesn’t want us to conform to behavior that doesn’t lead us closer to him. Instead, he tells us to be transformed by his way of seeing life.

To refuse to conform to a non-Christian culture, and to be transformed by God’s ways is fairly easy to explain. But it takes a lifetime to learn.

                                                                        (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

The Value of Leaping and Dancing

Story of the Day for Saturday July 2, 2011

The Value of Leaping and Dancing

 

                                                               Peter said, “I don’t have silver or gold, but what I do have I give to you In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” 

                                                          Acts 3:6

 Doug Storer, in his book, Amazing But True Facts, writes about the sinking of the Dutch steamship, Tambora, in May, 1901. When the ship hit a reef and sank near a small island in the East Indies, the island natives rowed to the wreckage to salvage what they could find.

A Chinese merchant, who made regular trading visits, visited the area a few months later. The merchant met a native who wanted to buy a needle and thread and offered to trade a large fishbone for them. The Chinese trader had no interest in buying a fishbone, but the native was so insistent that the merchant finally agreed to examine the fishbone which the man had in his hut.

The native only had a fishbone to trade because, unfortunately, he arrived late on the scene of the sunken Dutch steamship and all the valuable items had already been taken. All he found was a box of brightly colored paper.

When the trader stooped into the man’s hut to see his fishbone, he could hardly believe what he saw: insulating his hut, the native had plastered $40,000 in Dutch banknotes to his walls.

 

One of the biggest challenges of life is sorting out the relative value of things. Bill Hybels, in his book, Honest to God?, cites a study in which college freshman, in 1967, were asked whether it was more important to be well-off financially or to discover a meaningful philosophy of life. The vast majority chose a meaningful philosophy of life. By 1986, however, eighty percent said it was more important to be well-off financially.

 

In Proverbs it says that God’s wisdom is more valuable than rubies. All the same, just about everyone would prefer to be foolish and wealthy – which (I must be stern here) – is foolish.

If you amass enough rubies you can buy cool stuff like a white truffle from Tuscany or a riding lawnmower. And God doesn’t have a problem with rubies. He really doesn’t. Material things only become a curse when we cherish them above gifts of greater value.

 

A beggar spotted Peter and John as they were entering the gateway into the temple. The beggar didn’t get what he wanted, but was given more than he could have dreamed. He was thinking about a fishbone but was about to discover the Dutch treasury.

A silver coin does have value, but not as much as the ability to leap and dance in the temple court.

                                                (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

Thy Will Be Done

Story of the Day for Friday July 1, 2011

Thy Will Be Done

 

                   I want you to know, brothers, that those things that happened against me have advanced the good news. .  

                                                                     Philippians 1:12

 

In his book, The Wild Blue, Stephen Ambrose tells the story of a bombing raid during World War II. George McGovern was flying the Dakota Queen over Amstetten, Austria. McGovern’s bombardier, Cooper, tried to drop the bombs, but they got stuck. Cooper worked to free the bombs, but by the time they fell, they had flown over the river and missed their target. When the men returned to base, they were told at the debriefing that their bombs had dropped on an allied prisoner of war camp.

McGovern and Cooper were devastated.

 

Life doesn’t work out the way we want it to. The Lord’s Prayer is one of the most difficult prayers to pray because we plead with our heavenly Father that His will would be done – when what we really want is for life to turn out the way we want it to.

Why does the Lord let so many bad things happen to us? Why does the Lord let so many bad things happen through us?

Good question.

 

Steve Brown was invited to speak at a missions conference for young people. Just before he spoke, the leader told him there were a lot of kids who weren’t Christians, and asked if he could present the gospel to them.

Without time to prepare, Steve presented God’s plan of salvation. No response. In his book, If Jesus Has Come, Steve says he left the auditorium that night in shame.

Steve tried to reassure himself that these things happen. No big deal. But it was a big deal. Every time he heard the name of the town where he had botched his presentation, he winced.

Five years later, a young man approached him. “Mr. Brown, you don’t know me, but a few years ago I was at a missions conference where you spoke.” Steve groaned inwardly. “The night you spoke I received Christ, and now I’m a student in seminary and I’m going to be a pastor, and I just wanted to thank you.” He told Steve he had a recording of his presentation and shares it with others. “I can’t tell you how God has used your words.”

 

Paul was thrown into prison, but wrote that God was even using his incarceration to advance the gospel. Even when things don’t work the way we’d like them to, God is still at work.

And, before I forget, after Cooper had botched the bombing run, he was haunted by the memory of it. After the war he enrolled at Texas A&M and met an Army Air Forces officer. It turned out the man was a POW at the camp that Cooper accidentally bombed. The former prisoner explained that one of the bombs hit the fence, and in the confusion, several of the Americans managed to escape to freedom.

                                          (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)