Stories for March 21-23, 2011

Story of the Day for Wednesday March 23, 2011


And Head Back Home


When he came to his senses, he said “How many of my father’s hired servants have more to eat than they need, while I’m perishing in this famine. I’m going to get up and go to my father and say, ‘Father, I sinned …’”

Luke 15:17-18



Hoover vacuum cleaners were so popular in Great Britain that the company’s name was turned into a verb (“I’m just going to Hoover the hallway before tea, dear.”)

Nevertheless, in the summer of 1992, the company needed to clean up a backlog of appliances in their warehouses, so they launched the Hoover Free Travel Offer. If you bought a hundred pounds worth of Hoover products (about $198 US), you got two free round-trip airline tickets to key cities in Europe.

It didn’t take consumers long to figure out that buying a vacuum cleaner was cheaper than buying two airline tickets, so all available Hoovers were quickly snatched up. The company was now forced to switch to a seven-day work week to meet the demand. Their flagship plant in Cambuslang, Scotland had to hire an additional 75 workers.

Business was brisk, but somehow, the executives at Hoover didn’t realize they were losing money on every vacuum they sold. They insisted that only a few customers would bother to redeem their vouchers for free airline travel.  So, how did they handle this crisis? Elated by the huge sales volume, they decided to expand their promotion. TV ads now advertised two free round-trip tickets to the United States on Hoover purchases.

The flood was on!  Now, however, customers began to present their airline vouchers.  Hoover was so swamped they were forced to charter entire planes to keep up with the demand.

Finally, the Hoover executives had a brilliant insight: if we continue to pay customers $200 to purchase a $100 product, this could hurt us financially.

Travel agents were no longer able to book flights – which created a storm of negative publicity for Hoover – which, in turn, increased the number of customers demanding their two free round-trip tickets.

Britain’s royal family endorses certain firms by granting royal warrants. Selected companies can use the royal logo and it is a huge endorsement. Hoover experienced the extreme indignity of having their royal warrant revoked by the Queen over the promotion debacle.

The company faced legal battles for the next six years. In the end, 220,000 customers did make use of their travel vouchers – which cost Hoover almost $100 million.


Sin is stupid. It’s like a Hoover sales promotion. In the beginning, it looks promising, but it’s a train barreling toward a cliff.

There is, however, something worse than sinning. It’s refusing to admit our sin. The prodigal son was a beetlehead to leave his father’s house and squander the inheritance. But, when he realized how foolish he had been, he was wise enough to admit it.

And head back home.


(copyright by and by Marty Kaarre)



Story of the Day for Tuesday March 22, 2011


More or Less Securely Fastened


In Joppa, a disciple by the name of Tabitha . . .  was always doing good deeds and acts of mercy for the needy.

Acts 9:36


In the fourth century, John Chrysostom, a pastor in Antioch wrote, “Every day the church feeds 3000 people. Besides this, the church daily helps provide food and clothes for prisoners, the hospitalized, pilgrims, cripples . . .”

At the same time, in Rome, Jerome mentions a Christian woman, Fabiola. “She was the first person to found a hospital, into which she might gather sufferers out of the streets, and where she might nurse the unfortunate victims of sickness and want.”

All this distressed the Roman Emperor, Julian, who wanted to destroy the Christian faith. He, futilely, urged the pagan priests to try to copy the compassion of the Christians. “It is disgraceful,” he moaned, that Christians “support our poor in addition to their own.”

Julian accused Christians of showing excessive compassion, and we’ve been guilty ever since.


Benjamin Rush, in addition to founding our country’s first Bible society, was also the leader in showing compassionate care to the mentally ill. The official emblem of the American Psychiatric Association features his portrait in the center.

After seeing the carnage of the Battle of Solferino, with little attention paid to the wounded, Henry Dunant, a devout Christian, inspired the founding of both the International Red Cross and the creation of the Geneva Convention.

A British nurse, Cicely Saunders was appalled by the lack of care given in the hospital for the dying. She founded Hospice to provide compassionate care to the terminally ill.

Habitat for Humanity, Prison Fellowship – we find that Christians are continually finding ways to help the poor and needy.


Some (well-meaning) Christians believe the sole purpose of the Church is to preach the Gospel and save souls. But, if this is true, what do we make of Jesus? Yes, he came to open the path to heaven. Yet, on his way to cross, his feet kept following his heart – which invariably led him to the tear-stained faces of the poor, the sick, and the outcasts.

Amy Carmichael went to India as a missionary, and spent much of her time working to free children from temple prostitution. She was criticized by fellow-Christians for not focusing solely on saving souls.

Amy responded, “One cannot save and then pitchfork souls into heaven . . . Souls are more or less securely fastened to bodies . . . and as you cannot get the souls out and deal with them separately, you have to take them both together.”


Since we can’t pry a person’s soul away from their body without killing the patient in the process, we might as well love the whole darn thing.


(copyright by and by Marty Kaarre)




Story of the Day for Monday March 21, 2011


“It Ain’t Over ’til It’s Over”


Now the Philistines rulers assembled to offer a great sacrifice to Dagon their god, and to celebrate, for they said, “Our God has given Samson our enemy into our hands.”

Judges 16:23


Bobby Cruickshank was a likeable Scot – one of the most popular golfers on the PGA circuit.  But he could never win a national championship. In 1923 he almost won the U.S. Open, but came in second – as he did again in 1932. But Cruickshank persevered.

In 1934, with only eight holes to play in the U.S. Open, Cruickshank held the lead by two strokes. As Bobby made his approach shot to the green, he watched in horror as his the ball fell short into the Baffling Brook which guarded the green.

But the ball, apparently, hit a rock in the stream. It bounced out of the water, and rolled on the green, ten feet from the pin.

A miracle! As the crowd broke in wild cheers, Bobby tossed his club into the air, tipped his hat to the spectators, and celebrated his good fortune. At last, the first tournament win of his life was only moments away.


Relations were strained between Samson and the Philistines – to put it mildly.

When they finally caught him, they gouged out his eyes, bound him with brass shackles and paraded him down to Gaza like a circus curiosity.

Samson’s downfall called for a party. The Philistines sacrificed to their god, and, in a celebratory mood, called for Samson to be led out of prison to entertain them. Few things are more satisfying than gloating over a fallen enemy.

But we never know when one chapter in life has ended and the next has begun, and, for this reason alone, it’s not a good idea to be presumptive.


Samson lost his power when they shaved his head. But, the Bible adds the little detail that, during his time in prison, his hair had begun to grow.

The Philistines were in high spirits as they paraded their fallen prisoner before the public. Three thousand people stood on the roof of the temple of Dagon as Samson stood between the two main pillars.

Samson’s final prayer was that his strength might be renewed one last time.


We left Bobby Cruickshank on the eleventh hole with the “miracle shot” and the ecstatic crowds, and his pitching wedge thrown to the heavens in celebration.

Whatever personal opinions you may hold about gravity, you have to admit it isn’t whimsical.  Bobby’s golf club obediently returned to earth, but not before it made a brief visit to the top of Cruickshank’s noggin.

After trying to collect his wits, Bobby staggered to the green and actually two-putted the thing. But he really wasn’t with us for the rest of the competition. By the time he finished, the woozy Mr. Cruickshank had slumped in the polls, and wandered into the club house in third place.

As Yogi Berra once said, “Don’t count your chick –” No, wait, that’s not it . . .


(copyright by and by Marty Kaarre)



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