All posts by ddkaarre

Should I Poison My Dinner Guests?

Should I Poison My Dinner Guests? 

 

             Some people, coming from Judea,
taught the brothers, “Unless you are circumcised according to the
custom of Moses, you can’t be saved.” This created sharp disagreement
from Paul and Barnabas, and a big debate erupted.
 

Acts 15:1-2     (mck) 

 

Pack
rats are smelly and can do more damage in my workshop than I can. So,
they’ve got to go. Using rat poison, my devious scheme invites them to
be my dinner guests.
 

Mona,
our husky with a brain as big as a lima bean, shares my feelings about
pack rats. But her strategy involves chasing them under wood piles and
then standing guard over them for hours. Her policy of aggressive
harassment scares away my clients.
 

Mona and I are bonded in a common quest: to get rid of pack rats and make this world a better place in which to live. But, though we are both committed to The Cause, we have conflicting strategies.  

 

Christians aren’t supposed to fight, but, as believers, we are highly prone to butting heads, because we care so deeply about spiritual things.  

 

Years ago, Capper’s Weekly reported about Joyce Grimm, from Lucas, Kansas. She was walking across a parking lot when she saw a driverless car. It was slowly rolling out of its parking space. 

Joyce
swiftly ran beside the car, swung the door open, and jumped in. She hit
the brake and brought the rolling car to a halt. As she got out, a man
in overalls approached her. She beamed with slightly suppressed pride
and said, “Well, I stopped the car.”
 

The man in overalls said, “I know. I was pushing it.” 

Both
Joyce and the man in overalls had the same objective: to assist the
owner of the vehicle. But, because they understood the situation
differently, they found themselves working against each other.
 

 

Some well-meaning Christians in Antioch
told new gentile converts that they needed to get circumcised, like
Moses taught, in order to be saved. Paul and Barnabas sharply disagreed.
Everyone had the same goal (that the gentiles find salvation) but they
disagreed on how to get there.
 

This
issue could easily have divided the church in her infancy. But they
talked it out and got it right: both Jews and gentiles are saved solely
by the grace of the Lord Jesus.
 

When
we encounter conflict in the church, a good starting place is to find
where we agree – where we share the same convictions . . . and work from
our shared beliefs rather than our differences.
 

 

I believe that poisoning my dinner guests is still the way to go. And I still think my dog is a dingbat for trying to defeat pack rats by intimidation. But we will continue to discuss the issue with an open mind and monitor results. It’s what you do when you’re a partner in The Cause.  


Which Way is Up?

Which Way is Up?

 

           When
you are invited to a wedding feast, don’t take the place of honor,
because someone more honorable than you may have been invited.  Then the
one who invited you both will say to you, “Give this one your place.” 
And then, in disgrace, you will have to occupy the lowest place.
 

Luke 14:8-9   (mck)

 

The sixth Academy Awards ceremony was held in 1934 in the Ambassador Hotel.  Frank Capra already knew he would win the Oscar for Best Director, for his film, Lady for a Day 

The Master of Ceremonies that night was Will Rogers. He opened the envelope and remarked, “Well, well, well. What do you know?
I’ve watched this young man for a long time. Saw him come up from the
bottom, and I mean the bottom. It couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy.
Come on up and get it, Frank!”
 

Frank Capra
jumped up and made his way up front to accept his award. The
spotlights  swept over the audience. Capra hollered, “Over here!”
 

Capra strode up on the dais . . .and then the awful truth sank in. The winner was the “other” Frank – Frank Lloyd. 

As Capra returned to his seat he later called it, “the longest, saddest, most shattering walk in my life.”   

 

Frank
Capra can easily serve as the “poster child” for Jesus’ teaching,
“Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself
will be exalted.”
If we do not choose humility, then we will receive humiliation.   

Our egos can blind us to the painfully obvious truth that we are not the center of the universe. Rationally, of course, all people admit they’re not more important than anyone else. So, why don’t we behave the way we believe?  

Wish I knew.    

The desire to exalt ourselves is competitive – it also include the dark desire that others be lowered.  We see this all day long in sports. We have tied our egos to a team; their victory on the field serves to exalt our sense of superiority.  Sports is no longer about friendly athletic competition – it is about an obsession to feed our egos. 

Which
means what?  Our obsession with winning is also our obsession with
other teams losing?  Don’t you think there is something sick about that?
 

 

The competitive desire to be singled out for honor, however, was not invented by modern civilization.  Jesus’ own disciples wrangled frequently – arguing the
case for their own superiority.  We look back to that holy moment in
the upper room as the night Jesus gave his church the Lord’s Supper. 
It’s difficult for us to also remember it as the night the disciples got
into an argument over who was the greatest.
The argument died down, apparently, when they saw Jesus kneeling to wash everyone’s feet.  

Pride makes us step on others in order to stand higher. But Jesus is not impressed. True greatness, he thinks, is only found in humble service.  


The Secret Weapon

The Secret Weapon


          When the Israelites saw the man, everyone ran away in great fear.  

1 Samuel 17:24   (mck) 

 

We consider some people brave by the very nature of their occupations: smoke jumpers, police officers, firefighters, babysitters.  

And, standing atop this list are soldiers.  

So, for an entire army to spot a single combatant, and scatter in a panic seems a little peculiar. But that is exactly what the army of Israel did when Goliath strutted out and challenged them to a duel – winner take all. 

 

A shepherd boy with five smooth stones and a slingshot stepped forward to challenge the giant. And we all know the story from the standpoint of what David did to Goliath. But do you remember what David did to the army of Israel that day? 

 

The soldiers of Israel watched as David marched up to this fearsome warrior, and opposed him “in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.”   

When David stood triumphant over Goliath, the soldiers of Israel sprang to life.  They let out a roar and surged after the frightened Philistine army. The army of Israel chased the Philistines and kicked their can all along the Shaaraim road from Judah to Gath.  

 

When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, devastating
our naval fleet in the Pacific, they had a twofold objective. They not
only wanted to cripple our naval power but also to crush the American
resolve to wage war. 
 

The Japanese high command, however, was completely unaware that we had a secret weapon.  

The “secret weapon” was an artist from a small town in Vermont.
Norman Rockwell painted pictures of patriotism and bravery. He painted
pictures of “Four Freedoms” – those liberties that are the hallmark of
our nation.
He painted the American spirit. 

Fueled by the vision Rockwell portrayed for us, Americans responded. “Remember Pearl Harborwas not a discouraging reminder of a humiliating defeat. Instead, it became an echo of an earlier cry, “Remember the Alamo!” when a few brave Americans stood bravely against overwhelming odds.  

The power of an artist to inspire a nation was the one weapon for which the Japanese military had no defense.  

 

Your
brothers and sisters in Christ may be impressed by your talents, but
they are not inspired by them. They are inspired by your courage.
 

Make no mistake about this: when you face your Goliaths in the name and power of the Lord, the greatest victory will not be yours; it will be the victories of all those who have found courage from your example.   

 

 

 


Impossible Beginnings

Impossible Beginnings 

 

 

      And in those days, Peter got up in the midst of the brothers – a group numbering about a hundred and twenty. 

Acts 1:15    (mck) 


Have you ever seen a tree that is six feet in diameter? I’ve seen only a handful of trees that large in my lifetime.   

That is why I was impressed when I read, that in January 2006, in California, a branch fell off a tree that measured more than six feet in diameter! A branch. 

Whoa.   

The branch came from a Great Sequoia, named “General Sherman.” This tree towers 275 feet high and measures over 100 feet around at the base.  Its bark is about three feet thick. And – get this – the tree was already 3,327 years old when Columbus reached the new world.  

Want to know something else about this tree? The General Sherman once started as a seed. A really, really tiny seed, in fact.  3000 sequoia seeds weigh only one ounce! 

 

After Jesus ascended to heaven, he entrusted the work of God’s kingdom on this earth to a small handful of followers. After their first head count, they only number one hundred and twenty believers.  

Jesus’ followers faced immediate opposition from the Jewish leaders.  But, beyond that, the mighty Roman Empire
loomed over this meager bunch of disciples, and its emperors would soon
dedicate themselves to eradicating all followers of Jesus from the
earth. 
 

Things didn’t look promising, to put it mildly. But, look around today at what God has accomplished from this small beginning.   

 

So, what’s the point?  I’m not entirely sure
I should tell you. (Have you ever noticed how often Jesus told parables
and made puzzling comments, and then let us wrestle with his words?)
 

But,
surely you’ve heard the old slogan, “A journey of a thousand miles
begins with the first step.” Well, yeah, that’s true. But, sometimes the
first step seems so insignificant, that I’
m tempted to cancel the trip and watch a football game instead.   

 

If you’re ever discouraged by beginnings, maybe this will help. The Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago
had an exhibit. A checkerboard had one grain of wheat on the first
square. Two grains on the second square. Four on the next square. 
 

By doubling a single grain of wheat each square, how many grains will you have by the final 64th square? Enough to cover the entire subcontinent of India fifty feet deep!   

All big things start as small things.  When the Lord sets a dream before you, don’t be afraid to start. Jesus said, “The kingdom of God is like a seed . . . “  

 

 


My Paranormal Powers

My Paranormal Powers 

 

Many
will say to me in that day, “Lord, Lord!  Didn’t we prophesy in your
name, and in your name cast out demons, and in your name do many
miracles?”
 

And then I will say to them plainly, “I never knew you . . .” 

Matthew 7:22-23    (mck) 

 

 

I can move objects with my mind. Experts in the field of the paranormal call this phenomenon “telekinesis.”   

Yesterday, when we drove down the mountain into town, my wife put a small plate of chocolatechip cookies on the dashboard. At the foot of Twin Lakes
hill is a sharp right turn that I have recognized as a “psychic field.”
In some mysterious way, it focuses my telekinetic powers. 
 

We sped down the hill and my concentration was so intense I neglected to brake around the turn at the bottom. Focusing on the cookies, I actually slid them along the dashboard toward me. Using only my mind!  

 

My wife is less than impressed with my paranormal powers.  She is more thrilled when I offer to wash the dishes, or pick wildflowers for her, or when I leave the toilet seat down.   

 

When Jesus walked this earth the supernatural flowed out of him. He was continually working miracles and driving out demons. And he authenticated the authority of the Twelve by giving them the power to do miracles too.   

Yet, oddly enough, Jesus never considered the supernatural to be a sign of our spirituality.  He never tells us we supposed to perform miracles. Matter of fact, when Jesus gave his most extended teaching, the Sermon on the Mount, he never mentioned miracles at all, except as a cautionary tale.  

He said that,
on the Judgment Day, many people will try to prove their allegiance to
him by the supernatural feats they performed in his name. Jesus,
will tell them he’s not impressed. Then he’ll say, “I never knew you.  Depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.”   

 

What, then, is Jesus looking for in his followers?  The final words of his sermon tell us we
are wise if we listen to his words and put them into practice. Faith is
not shown by displays of the supernatural, but by fruit. 
Jesus never said, “By this all men will know you are my disciples: if you perform miracles, and brag about them at a prayer meeting.”    

 

I don’t think my wife wants to acknowledge my amazing paranormal powers, because, when the cookies slid across the dashboard, they, unfortunately, fell on the floor.  Next time, I think I’ll amaze her by sliding a book, or something.  

Until then, I’ll just have to impress her by doing the dishes and giving her foot rubs.   

 


The Midnight Ride of Israel Bissel

The Midnight Ride of Israel Bissel

Whatever
you do, work with all your soul, as for the Lord and not for people,
since you know that you will receive the reward of your inheritance from
the Lord.  It is the Lord Christ you are serving.
 

Colossians 3:23-24   (mck) 


Paul Revere won fame for his midnight ride to warn the people the British were coming. I doubt any of us would know of Revere were it not for Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, who wrote a wellknown poem, “The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere.”   

You may disagree and say you would have learned this fact from history.  Think so?  Then why have you never heard of Israel Bissel 

Paul Revere’s  famous ride took him only 10 miles before he was captured by the British. Israel Bissel also rode to warn his countrymen of the British advance.  He warned the citizens of Worchester, Massachusetts, then rode on to New Haven, Connecticut.  After that he rode to New York, and then to Philadelphia. Paul Revere rode 10 miles; Bissel rode 345 miles.  But nobody wrote a famous poem about Israel Bissel (let’s face it: not many words rhyme with “Bissel” – other than “missile,” and “thistle.”)  

 

You know what? We all love being like Paul Revere — noticed and appreciated for what we do. You don’t have to be ashamed of that. If anyone tells you that enjoying appreciation is sinful pride, here’s what you do: Say: “Why, thank you. I really appreciate your insightful wisdom!”  Wait until they flash a pleased smile (they will), and then wink at them. 

Seriously, think about it: if being appreciated is a bad thing, then we should stop being polite and thanking people for things. We’re only harming them by showing our appreciation!  

 

Feeling appreciated is not wrongBe aware, however, that it is dangerous. A craving for recognition and appreciation has the potential to warp our motivation.  Instead of doing things out of love for Jesus and our neighbor, we can begin acting so that others will notice us and appreciate us. Not good.   

Want
to know a test to find out if the desire for appreciation has bent your
motives?  Ask yourself: Would I behave exactly the same way if nobody
ever saw or noticed what I did? 
 

Here
is a suggestion to monitor your motives: make a point to do one small
thing every day that no one will see. No one will thank you, or
appreciate your act. You did it simply for the wild joy of serving the
Lord. 
 

The Bible encourages us to work with all our heart and soul – whether anyone notices or not – whether anyone pats us on the head or not.   

There is One who sees. And that is all that really matters.

Just Do It

Just Do It 

 

Andrew,
Simon Peter’s brother said, “Here’s a boy with five loaves of barley
bread and two little fish. But how far will they go among so many
people?”
 

John 6:8-9   (mck) 

 

 

Sometimes at night, when the wolves were howling up on Still Peak, our old dog, Ivan the Terrible, would join in. Some deep, primal memory told him he was part of the pack. Pointing his nose to the night sky, he would moan a lonesome, drawn-out, howl.  

But Ivan never sounded like a wolf. He sounded like a cow trying to yodel.  

 

Ivan the Terrible died this last summer, but I always envied him when he would sing. I didn’t envy him because he was good – he was so bad you winced – but he howled nonetheless. I’m afraid to sing in public. What if I’m off-key? Ivan, on the other hand, never worried what he sounded like – he just gave you what he had.  

 

“Use what talents you possess, “Henry Van Dyke said, “the woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best.”  

And, yeah, I know William Purkey’s words can be misconstrued,
but I like them anyway: “Dance like no one is watching, love like
you’ll never be hurt, sing like no one is listening, and live like it’s
heaven on earth.”
 

 

But, hey, if we don’t attempt something, at least we won’t fail, right? Who’s going to laugh at our clumsiness if we don’t join in the dance?   

It turns out our common notions about this are completely
backward. The well-known psychologist, Karen Horney, discovered that,
if you do not attempt to do something, you will usually have the
self-impression you have failed. 
Horney claims that, by simply attempting to do something, we will almost always conclude that you have succeeded.  

It’s not about performance; it’s about trying. 

 

All the same, we often define ourselves by our limitations. How many times have you found yourself lamenting, “I wish there was more I could do?”  

But
the Lord only expects you to use the gifts he’s given you, to offer
what you have – and not worry about what you don’t have.
 

 

Once, a young boy had little to offer Jesus. Just five loaves of barley bread and a couple of small fish. Not much, but he gave what he had.  

Yet, in the hands of Jesus, it was plenty.  

 

Don’t focus on the talents you don’t have, the money you don’t have, the opportunities you don’t have. The only thing that matters to Jesus is using what you’ve got.   

It’ll be enough. 


Get Out of the Boat

Get Out
of the Boat

             “When
the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified.  ‘It’s a ghost,’ they said and cried out in
fear.

            But
Jesus immediately said to them, ‘Take courage. 
I AM.  Do not be afraid.’

            ‘Lord,
if it is you,’ Peter replied, ‘tell me to come to you on the water.’

            ‘Come,’
he said.

            Then
Peter got down out of the boat. . .”

                                                                                                                                                                        Matthew 14:26-29

 

           Most of us have had the fear of failure
ingrained in us.  We view failure as
something to be avoided at all costs. 

          But our fears are based on a limited
truth.  There are situations in life
where failure means disaster.  As the
saying goes, “If at first you don’t succeed, then skydiving is not for
you.” 

          But there are other times where we
must learn to embrace failure as the inevitable process of growing.  Every musician knows that, in order to master
their instrument, they must be willing to fail, and to repeatedly play wrong
notes in order to learn.  Any basketball
player knows that they will miss many more shots than they make before they
begin to refine their shot. 

          There is, of course, a way to avoid
failure.  You will never hit a wrong
note, you will never strike out – if you never pick up an instrument, if you
never step up to the plate and swing. 

 

          When Jesus came to his disciples
walking on the water, only one of them failed. 
Peter made the offer that he, too, would walk on the water if it was
truly Jesus calling him. 

          It was.  And he invited him to come. 

          You know what happens next: Peter
begins to walk on the water toward Jesus, but then he diverts his attention to
the power of the storm and height of the waves, and begins to sink. 

          How does Jesus respond to his
doubt?  He grabs his hand and lifts him
back up out of the water.   Peter had no
reason to doubt, but when he failed, Jesus was there for him.

 

          In 1899, Teddy Roosevelt, in a speech
to the Hamilton Club in Chicago,
said:

                   It is not the critic who
counts, not the person who points out where the doer

                   of deeds could have done
better.  The credit belongs to the person
who is

                   actually in the arena; whose
face is marred by dust and sweat and blood;

                   who strives valiantly; who
errs and comes up short again and again;

                   who knows the great
enthusiasms, the devotions, and spends himself or

                   herself in a worthy cause;
who at best knows in the end the triumph of

                   high achievement; and at the
worst, at least fails while daring greatly;

                   so that his or her place
shall never be with those cold and timid souls who

                   know neither victory or
defeat.

 

          Peter may have failed.  But at least he was the only one willing to
climb out of the boat and try.

.

My Wife the Ninny

My Wife the Ninny 

 

I
remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall.  I
well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. 
 

Yet this I call to mind and therefore have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his mercies never fail.  They are new every morning. 

Lamentations 3:19-23 

 

 

When our children were little my wife always insisted I should take them to the clinic for immunization shots.  I tried to convince her that children need a mother at such a traumatic moment.  And then I would appeal to her higher nature by telling her not to be such a ninny.   

Yet, despite my patient reasoning and crystalline logic, she remains adamant that I take them for their shots.  

The ninny.   

So, off I drive to the clinic with a little child bundled in the car seat. When the nurse walks into the room with the syringe, she sighs and apologizes – as if this is all her fault. Nurses hate this part of their duties. 

I hold my little toddler on my lapthis cute little lump of sweetness and joy.  How swiftly the fortunes of life are about to change.   

What happens next is always the same.  One moment they sit on my lap, secure and content Then the needle. And then the piercing scream that echoes into the next county.  The cry that pierces a daddy’s heart.  

Want to know what my children do next?  They hug me.  They cling to me for comfort as they sob in pain.  

I cannot explain to them why I did not defend them – why I did not fight off the strange woman with the needle who attacked them without provocation.  I cannot explain that this present wound will pass, but the benefits will carry onI cannot explain that I deliberately took them here because I love them dearly.  My children are too young to understand.   All I can do is hold them tight and tell them it’s okay.  

Do you think God would do the same thing to you 

Do you think he wants you to cling tighter to him?  That he wants to hold you tight and let you know it is going to be okay? 

 

So what do you do when the tears come and life hurts so badlyCling to your heavenly Father. Blow your nose.  And let his love dry your tears.