Story of the Day Posts for April 7-11, 2011

Story of the Day for Monday April 11, 2011

Bruised and Showered With Dirt

                  So David and his men kept going along the road while Shimei was going along the hillside paralleling him, and as he went he cursed and threw stones and showered him with dirt.

2 Samuel 16:13

Jeannine Buckley wrote to Reader’s Digest about a petty argument she had with her husband, Lonn, in which both of them were unwilling to admit they might be wrong.

In an effort at conciliation, Jeannine said, “I’ll admit I’m wrong, if you’ll admit I’m right.” Lonn agreed and insisted his wife go first.

“I’m wrong,” she said.

With a twinkle in his eye, he replied, “You’re right!”

I like Lonn already. I used to think I was always right about everything too – despite the adamant objections of those around me.  For years it was a source of wonder to me – why did I possess such an uncanny ability to be right about everything, while everyone else around me was so often mistaken and misguided?  It couldn’t be mere coincidence. Was it my towering intellect or just a boundless supply of common sense?

It took me most of my life before I finally realized that the reason I was always right was because I was woefully lacking in humility.

When king David was fleeing from Absalom, a man by the name of Shimei met them along the way. He called David a scoundrel and, as he cursed the king, he pelted him with stones. David’s commander, Abishai, quickly assessed the situation and offered to have the man decapitated.

Oddly, king David ordered that they leave him alone, because, who knows? – he might be right. The royal retinue plodded on while Shimei kept up the tempo of his curses, while he whipped stones at them and showered them with dust.

God called David a man after his own heart. The Lord certainly didn’t say that because David was always right. He said it because David was humble.

The war was not going well when President Lincoln, with his assistant, John Hay, and Secretary of State, William Seward, paid a visit to General McClellan’s home. The servant told the President they would have to wait until he returned from a wedding.

An hour later, McClellan returned and looked bemused as he walked past the room in which they were waiting. They sat patiently, and waited.

Finally, the servant returned and informed the President that the general had decided to go to bed.

On their way home, Hay fumed over McClellan’s insolence, but Lincoln calmly replied that this was no time to be concerned about one’s dignity. “I will hold McClellan’s horse,” Lincoln said, “if he will only bring us success.”

David and Lincoln were two of history’s greatest leaders. But their secret power was not in armies, but the ability to keep moving while bruised and showered with dirt.

(copyright by and by Marty Kaarre)

Story of the Day for Saturday April 9, 2011

The Score Keeper’s Error

                   The Lord guides the humble in what is right. . .

Psalm 25:9

If we want to learn the English language, we begin by learning the rules.

But, once we master the language, we learn to transcend the rules. School children learn: “Never end a sentence with a preposition.” The literary master, Winston Churchill, on the other hand, said: “That is a rule up with which I will not put!”

When God began leading his people out of Egypt to the Promised Land, his guidance was simple – just follow the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night. They didn’t have to be spiritually insightful; they just had to be obedient.

The journey through the wilderness began with the people mechanically following the rules. But that isn’t how God wanted them to finish the journey. He wanted them to learn to follow him when there was no more pillar of cloud or fire. His goal was to teach them to trust – to be guided by their knowledge of the living God.

As they neared the Promised Land, Moses sent twelve spies to scope out the Promised Land. They returned and all agreed it was a land flowing with milk and honey. But they gave a dire report about the powerful people who lived there.

Caleb disagreed. “We should go up and take possession of the land. We can absolutely do this.” Among the spies, only Joshua sided with Caleb, and added, “If the Lord is pleased with us he will lead us into that land.”

This is what the Lord was working toward: two men whose actions were guided by humble faith in his gracious gift and his mighty power.

For over forty years, John Condon was the beloved announced for Knicks’ games in Madison Square Garden. Dave Anderson, writing for The New York Times, told how Condon was announcing the Holiday Festival basketball tournament. North Carolina was clobbering Princeton, 103-76, and, in the final minute of the game, Rodney Fogelman ran to the scorer’s table – hoping to play in the last few seconds.

“This kid’s got to get in the game,” Condon told the scorekeeper, Tom Kenville, “Blow the horn.”

    “I can’t blow the horn. Play’s got to be stopped.”

Ignoring the rules, Condon leaned over, grabbed the horn, and blew it.  The referees on the court, stopped and stared at the scorer’s table.

“Scorer’s error,” Condon boomed through the P.A. “Now going into the game for Princeton, Rodney Fogelman.”

Condon leaned toward Kenville, “This kid will remember this the rest of his life.”

Condon knew the rules. But I for one am glad he knew more: he also knew the memories he could create for Rodney Fogelman.

(copyright by and by Marty Kaarre)

Story of the Day for Friday April 8, 2011

His Face Betrayed His Secret

                 Those who look to the Lord are radiant; their faces will never be covered with shame.

Psalm 34:5

On February 4, 1863, six men left the mining camp of Bannock (later renamed “Bannack” after a clerical error in Washington D.C.).  These prospectors went looking for gold by the Yellowstone River, but, by intruding on Indian land, they were captured by Crow warriors and held captive in a large Indian camp.

They escaped, but were pursued relentlessly by the Crow. The prospectors were hungry and frequently lost.

On May 26, they were camped at a little lake in the Gravelly Mountain range. Two of the men, Bill Fairweather and Barney Hughes, climbed to a nearby summit which they named “Old Baldy.”

It was a good day. Their overview of the area gave them confidence they were no longer pursued by Indians. They identified a landmark which told them they were only four days from Bannock. They had the leisure to shoot elk and bighorn sheep to replenish their nearly exhausted food supplies. They had time to rest their horses.

But best of all, at a little creek, they discovered gold. Lots of it.

They christened the stream, Alder Creek, and headed into town. They all agreed not to breathe a word about their discovery to a soul. They would go to Bannock to resupply and then return to Alder Creek to continue panning.

But, after they restocked their supplies and headed back to their gold find, they were shocked to discover half the town of Bannock following them.

Alright, who squealed?

No one. The miners from town said their beaming faces gave them away.

In his psalm, David says that those who look to the Lord are radiant.

The moon emits no light of its own. It shines because it reflects the light it receives from the sun. When our hearts are exposed to the blazing brilliance of God’s love, we simply reflect it.

Sour-faced Christians, on the other hand, advertise a God who prefers to scowl.

When we talk about reflecting the joy of the Lord by our radiant faces, however, we are walking into a dangerous place. Simply put: it encourages hypocrisy. Have you ever seen believers who wear phony, manufactured happiness? Their plastered smiles don’t look like a reflection of God’s grace. They look artificial – as if they feel a need to impress others with their glowing “radiance.”

Instead, they look kind of creepy.

Jesus radiated light. He was the light of the world. He didn’t have to put on an act. Sometimes he was sad and wept; sometimes he was angry. But I don’t think he had to tell you he lived in harmony with the Father. His face betrayed his secret.

(copyright by and by Marty Kaarre)

Story of the Day for Thursday April 7, 2011

String Your Bow, Flash Your Sword, and Give God the Credit

               I will not trust in my bow, my sword will not bring me victory.

              But you have delivered us from our enemies; you put to shame our adversaries.

             We have made our boast in God all day long, and we will forever give thanks to your name.

Psalm 44:6-8

Warren Buffett, the financial investor with, like, a gazillion dollars, likes to tell the story about his daughter, Emily.  When she turned four, he threw a birthday party for her. One of the main attractions was Beemer the Clown.

Beemer held “the box of wonders” and asked Emily to come forward and wave a magic wand over the box.  He would toss green handkerchiefs into the box, and cover it.  Emily would wave the magic wand, and then Beemer would pull out blue handkerchiefs from the box.  He would toss in loose handkerchiefs.  Emily would wave the wand over the box, and out would come handkerchiefs knotted together.

Emily was delighted. She was so pleased with her mastery of the magic wand that she blurted out, “Gee, I’m really good at this!”

When we enjoy success, we like to take the credit.  After all, it was our “bow” and “sword” (as the Psalmist mentions) that made things happen. That’s why success can be so dangerous.  We treat God like Beemer the Clown, while we wave a magic wand and exult in our triumphs.

When we convince ourselves that God plays no part in our success, unpleasant things happen.

For starters, pride makes us obnoxious, and no one wants to be around us.

But, when we take credit for our success, we view God as our competitor.  We suspect he wants to hog the credit for the wonders we have done.

At Chancellorsville, General “Fighting Joe” Hooker led a Union army of 130,000 soldiers against less than half that number of Confederates.  “The enemy is in my power,” he said, “and God Almighty cannot deprive me of them.”

Hooker got his butt kicked at Chancellorsville.

The Titanic rammed an iceberg on its maiden voyage and sank.  Even though other ships warned the Titanic about the icebergs, the pilot ignored the warnings, because, as one of the crew exalted, “God himself could not sink this ship.”

Are you thinking what I’m thinking?  Maybe it’s not such a great idea to thumb your nose at the One who makes all our achievements possible.

J. S. Bach, perhaps the greatest musician of all time, wrote truckloads of brilliant music.  But his trademark signature at the end of his compositions were the initials   S.D.G.  Soli Deo Gloria – To God alone be the glory.

Bach strung his bow and flashed his sword. . .but gave God credit for the victories.

(copyright by and by Marty Kaarre)

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