Two Bridges

Story of the Day for Thursday June 14, 2012

Two Bridges

                      The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.” 

                And the Lord responded, “If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and plant yourself in the sea’ and it would obey you.”

                                                 Luke 17:5-6

 

I’m going to ask you a question in just a moment. It’s not a trick question, but most Christians answer it wrong, while those who aren’t particularly religious tend to give the right answer.

 

You and a friend go for a walk and come to a raging river. Since it’s impossible to swim across it, you look along the bank, and spot two bridges.

The first bridge is buttressed on both ends with thick concrete. Massive steel girders span the river, which have been overlaid with thick oak planks. It looks like you could drive a tank over it.

The other bridge is an oddity. It’s constructed out of cardboard and fastened together with duct tape. The light rain the night before has left the cardboard sagging somewhat, but it is, nevertheless, a bridge.

Your friend asks, “What bridge you gonna to take?”

“What! You’re joking, right? I’m taking the steel bridge.”

You soon discover your friend isn’t joking. “I’m taking the cardboard bridge,” he says.

As your friend starts out across the sagging cardboard bridge, he doesn’t have the slightest concern about its strength. He’s humming a song as he boldly strides across.

You, on the other hand, are unnerved. Your palms begin to sweat and you notice there’s a tremor in your hands. Thinking it will help to better disperse your weight, you begin to crawl across the steel bridge.

 

So, here’s the question. Who will make it safely to the other side: the person with the strong faith or the person with the weak faith?

I’ve asked this question dozens of times, and, invariably, Christians tend to blurt out, “The person with the strong faith.”

Wrong answer. The person who will make it safely across the river is you, with the weak faith. Your friend may have a strong faith, but it is faith in a weak bridge incapable of holding a person’s weight. You, on the other hand, may have a weak faith, but as long as it is in a strong bridge, you will make it safely to the other side.

 

Jesus’ followers asked him to increase their faith – and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that. But Jesus knew they were looking at things from the wrong perspective. Ultimately, it’s not how much faith you have that matters; it’s what you have your faith in that counts.

Even a weak faith, a faith as tiny as a mustard seed, can do great things if it’s placed in the true source of power and strength.

      (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

 

 

 

 

 

Stand Your Ground

Story of the Day for Wednesday June 13, 2012

Stand Your Ground

 

                             David’s troops fled from the Philistines at the barley field. But they took their stand in the middle of the filed and defended it . . . and the Lord rescued them with a great victory. 

1 Chronicles 11:13-14

 

Imagine that terrorists attacked Washington D.C. and destroyed the White House, the capitol, the Library of Congress – all of our most important government buildings.

Did you know that it once happened?

In 1812, Great Britain was the most powerful army in the world. They had just defeated Napoleon and were well-trained and battle-tested. The United States had virtually no army at all.

When the British invaded our shores, they marched on Washington and burned all the government buildings (except the post office). After the devastation, President Madison showed no signs of panic. He convened his cabinet in the post office and Congress met in a hotel.

These were dark days for our country.

Many voices called for surrender. How could we withstand such a mighty force? The President, however, refused to back down. He installed new officers in the military who were willing to stand up to the British.

 

The British army’s next target was Baltimore. Major George Armistead was chosen to defend the small fort at the mouth of the harbor. Before British ships could destroy Baltimore that had to get past Fort McHenry.

Armistead convinced the local merchants to line up their ships across the mouth of the harbor . . . and sink them – thus forming a blockade. He installed sixty cannons in the fort and said, “We are ready, except that we have no suitable ensign to display over the fort. And it is my desire to have a flag so large that the British will have no difficulty in seeing it from a distance.”

Working day and night, Mary Pinkersguild oversaw the making of an American flag that measured 30 feet by 42 feet.

 

The British navy arrived on September 11th, 1814. They unloaded 50 ships full of infantry to attack the city of Baltimore, while the warships unleashed a furious barrage on Fort McHenry. 190 pound cannonballs hit with such force they rattled houses in Baltimore over three miles away.

All night long the sky was lit up as the British bombarded the fort. The navy launched 700 rockets and over 1500 cannonballs.

At dawn, the Americans would raise their flag or a white flag of surrender. An American lawyer, captured by the British, watched the bombardment and saw, by the dawn’s early light, those broad stripes and bright stars . . .

The British infantry retreated and the navy sailed away. Who could have predicted that a ragtag militia could stand up to the power of the British forces? But they did.

 

When the time comes for you to stand your ground, don’t calculate the power of the forces arrayed against you; think only of that for which you would give your all.

(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

Dashed Dreams and a Higher Plan

Dashed Dreams and a Higher Plan

Story of the Day for Monday June 11, 2012

Dashed Dreams and a Higher Plan 

                    . . . Moses named his son Gershom, explaining, “I have become a foreigner in a foreign land.” 

                               Exodus 2:22       

Moses’ life is curious in that his personal tragedies set him on the road to a higher purpose. Persecution forces his mother to float her baby away in a reed basket. But then he’s discovered by Pharaoh’s daughter.  Moses is raised in the shadow of the pharaoh, yet is later is forced to flee into the desert. In Midian, he marries and raises a family and learns the peaceful, nomadic life. But then God makes him go back to Egypt as a vocal, public figure. All of the major disappointments in Moses’ life are the prelude to a higher plan.  

 

David Thompson, born in 1770, was raised in poverty. Yet, due to this, he found a steady job in Canada with the Hudson’s Bay Company when he was only fourteen. His work as a fur trader, unfortunately, was disrupted when a serious leg injury forced him to convalesce for two winters.  

This setback, however, enabled Thompson to spend time with surveyor, Philip Turnor, who refined young David’s skills in math, astronomy, and surveying. When Thompson recovered, his company promoted him to the position of surveyor.  

 

In 1797, David Thompson left Hudson’s Bay to work for the North West Company. After surveying 4000 miles – which included Lake Superior and the headwaters of the Mississippi River – Thompson was sent west. The North West Company had heard that their American rival, John Jacob Astor, had sent a ship around Cape Horn to claim the Columbia River for his fur trading empire.  

Thompson was sent to discover, and map, the route of the Columbia River before Astor’s ships arrived. Ironically, Thompson found the Columbia River twice, but didn’t know it. At its source, the Columbia flows for two hundred miles in a northerly direction – the opposite direction it was “supposed” to flow. Thompson and his men took an arduous 600 mile detour through my present stomping grounds in Montana before they discovered the Columbia as it flowed southwest.  

The confusion cost Thompson two months. When he finally reached the mouth of the Columbia, he learned that Astor’s ship had beaten them . . . by two months.  

 

David Thompson didn’t know at the time that rights to fur trading were trivial compared to what he accomplished. His seemingly futile wanderings caused him to map 2,340,000 square miles – more than any geographer who ever lived. He visited Edmonton, Calgary, and Portland before these cities had even been invented. Though he failed in his attempt to ensure beaver pelts for his company, he accomplished something far greater: he mapped and defined a nation.  

Dashed dreams which initiate a higher plan – do you think that was only true for Moses and David Thompson? Or do you believe God is doing the same thing in your life? 

(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

 

 

 

 

“It’s What You Know After You Know it All That Counts”

Story of the Day for Friday June 1, 2012

“It’s What You Know after You Know It All That Counts.”

                Instruct a wise person, and he will be wiser still. Teach a righteous person, and he will increase his learning.  

                                                                Proverbs 9:9

 

Hoagy Carmichael rarely let the facts bully him around when he had a good story to tell. So, according to one version, his first day golfing went like this:

His golf instructor patiently showed him how to hold the club, how to stand, how to follow through. After a half hour of instruction, Hoagy teed up on the first hole and smacked the ball down the fairway. It rolled onto the green and dropped in for a hole in one. Hoagy flipped the club to a caddy, and said to the dumbstruck instructor, “Okay, I think I’ve got the idea now.”

 

We can only hope that Hoagy Carmichael’s instruction didn’t end there. But it is true that accomplishment can be one of the greatest hindrances to growth.

Contrast Carmichael’s attitude with professional golfers. The top golfers in the PGA depend on their coaches to help them improve every day. I listened to an interview where one of the world’s top golfers spoke about his preparation. He didn’t say, “I’m getting ready for the Masters . . .” but “We’re getting ready for the Masters, and one day we just took a day off – which we normally do, but . . .” He viewed his career in terms of himself and his coach.

Best-selling author, Steven Pressfield, says, “The student of the game knows that the levels of revelation that can unfold in golf, as in any art, are inexhaustible.”

 

If “the levels of revelation” in golf are inexhaustible, how much more is the knowledge of the living God? Yet, sadly, our growth in biblical knowledge can become the very thing that hinders further understanding of the ways of the Lord. Once we’ve learned more than we used to know, we begin to feel like we know it all. And that is where growth stops.

The wise person is one who is humble enough to admit there is always more to learn.

 

John Wooden is rightly considered the greatest college basketball coach of all time. He took a faltering program at UCLA and transformed it into a powerhouse – winning ten national championships.

Wooden listened to others. When Wooden’s players were shorter-than-average, his assistant coach, Jerry Norman, persuaded him that a zone press defense would work. It won them a national championship.

But then Wooden got a tall, talented player. After winning a national championship with one style of play, he decided to scrap it and learn a completely new system that exploited the talents of Lew Alcindor (later known as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar). The result: three more national championships with Alcindor.

John Wooden’s  favorite motto reflected the Proverbs: “It’s what you know after you know it all that counts.”

(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)