Story of the Day posts for March 24-28, 2011

Story of the Day for Monday March 28, 2011

Past the Thumb Sucking Stage

The end of a matter is better than its beginning.

Ecclesiastes 7:8

If you want to become a master chef, the first lesson you must learn is how to stand on a chair and turn off the smoke alarm. If you want to master the violin, you must imagine the sound of a cat being swung by its tail and do your best to imitate it.

Beginnings aren’t impressive. When Abraham Lincoln was old enough to write his name, he wasn’t being hounded for his autograph, and there was no sign near Sinking Springs Farm proclaiming:



Autographs 5 cents

On August 13, 2010, Scottie Pippen was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame. But who would’ve guessed it from his unpromising beginning?

Scottie’s family of eleven brothers and sisters was dogged by poverty. He played basketball, but just for fun. It wasn’t until he yearned for a job as a factory manager that he got serious about basketball – because a scholarship was the only way he could afford a college education.

But Scottie couldn’t land a scholarship. His high school coach finally found him a chance to play for the University of Central Arkansas on a work-study arrangement. He worked summers as a welder to pay for school, and he worked as the team manager in order to play ball.

Not a great start, but if he wasn’t willing to begin by passing out towels in the locker room, he never would have ended in the Hall of Fame with multi-million dollar contracts.

When the Gospel message reached the seaport city of Corinth, in southern Greece, the newborn believers began by doing what all newborns do: crying, drinking milk and soiling their diapers. But that’s a good thing, because life has begun.

When Paul writes to these young believers, he’s a little distressed because they should be past the thumb-sucking stage, but he is so excited about what God has begun in this bawdy sailor-town. Paul could write to them, “. . . you have such a place in our hearts that we would live or die with you. I have great confidence in you. I take great pride in you.”

Saint Francis of Assisi said, “Start by doing what is necessary. Then do what’s possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”

The point, however, is to start. . . even if it only  means taking the battery out of the smoke alarm.

(copyright by and by Marty Kaarre)

Story of the Day for Saturday March 26, 2011

Do You Have Your Own Navy?

It’s not good to act without knowledge. If you’re in too much of a hurry, you’ll take the wrong path.

Proverbs 19:2

Known as TCA, 1, 1, 1, trichloroethane hasn’t been sold in the United States since 1996. Previously it was used as an aerosol propellant in various household products.

Who would have guessed that teenagers would discover you could get high on it if you put your head in a plastic bag and sprayed the fumes into it? Trichloroethane, however, can depress the central nervous system and wreak damage to the heart, lungs, nervous system and liver. It was associated with “sudden sniffing death” syndrome.

The product label clearly warned of death or serious injury if inhaled, but teens ignored the warning. They liked getting high. The company wanted to make the product warning label larger, but attorney Victor Schwartz wisely argued that kids would then assume there was more propellant in the aerosol can.

Sometimes kids can be alarmingly blind to the future consequences of their actions. So, Mr. Schwartz came up with a brilliant solution. He asked his clients, “What do kids worry about more than death or injury?” Their appearance. So, his clients re-worded their warning label to say that sniffing the aerosol could cause hair loss or facial disfigurement.

It worked.

Looking ahead to the effect our present actions will have in the future is important. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take risks. In fact, one of the foremost regrets voiced by the elderly is that they didn’t take more risks in life.

But looking ahead does mean that we should be wise. That means we should know where we want to go, and how we plan to get there.

And, if the only thing you’re looking for are a few thrills in this life, maybe you’re not looking ahead far enough.

The Intermarine Company in northwest Italy specializes in making small boats. Their shipyard is a mile up the Magra River and empties into the ocean at the town of Ameglia.

In 1981, they landed a huge contract. The government of Malaysia offered them a huge multi-million dollar agreement to build a minesweeper and three military vessels.

Intermarine had never built ships this large, but they were up to the task. They finished the project on time and on budget.  But they focused so much on construction that they failed to imagine the day they would sail the ships down the river to the sea.

The large boats were too big to float under the Colombiera Bridge. The shipbuilding company offered to tear down the bridge and rebuild it after they floated their vessels to sea. But the town council refused.

Oh well. How many construction companies can brag that they have their own navy?

(copyright by and by Marty Kaarre)

Story of the Day for Friday March 25, 2011

Ahead of Their Time

Have I covered up my sin like Adam by hiding my guilt in my heart?

Job 31:33

When Rand McNally put out their new atlas in 1989, they inadvertently left out the pages for North and South Dakota and Oklahoma. That’s embarrassing. But, hey, no big deal – we all make mistakes.

The map company, however, made national news – not because of their mistake, but because they denied it was an error! Instead, they made the outrageous claim that they didn’t feel they had enough room in their atlas to include ALL the states. One spokesman for the company said, “It was an editorial decision.”

If they admitted they goofed, people would’ve understood, because, well . . . people goof. But, by denying their error and pretending that it was intentional, they looked ridiculous.

The only people who can get away with denying their faults are those in the creative arts. If their work really stinks, they can sniff and say that they are merely “ahead of their time.”

Making mistakes is not the worst thing in the world. They might be bad, but they’re not the worst thing. The worst thing is denying that we have done anything wrong.

The only sin for which you can’t feel the relief of God’s forgiveness is the one you deny you committed.

When I was a freshman in high school I played the drums in the school band.  We were practicing for the halftime show at homecoming, but, if you played on the varsity football team, you, obviously, didn’t have to do halftime.

That left only two of us drummers: me and this senior girl who was really, really good. The band director gave us a difficult drum piece and told the two of us we would play a solo in the middle of the band number.

We were supposed to memorize the solo, and I’m sure I would have, but a fellow drummer taught me a trick: just tape the music to your drum. No one in the stands can see it, and you can just read the music off your drum head.

When the band played at halftime for homecoming it was horribly windy. I wouldn’t remember a detail like that if it wasn’t for the fact that, when it came time for me and the senior girl to play our solo, the wind ripped the music off my drum head.

As I reflected on it afterward, I realize the proper thing to do would have been to just stop playing and let my partner play the drum solo by herself. Instead, I panicked and pretended everything was fine. I started ad-libbing my own funky little rhythm.

I could see a few of my classmates in the stands laughing at me because they saw my music blow away. But you have to rise above that sort of sniggering when you’re ahead of your time.

(copyright by and by Marty Kaarre)

Story of the Day for Thursday March 24, 2011

What’s New?

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth passed away.

Revelation 21:1

Ever notice how we have a compulsion to point out the first robin of the year?

Why is that?

An armchair psychologist might suggest that the reason we get excited about seeing the first robin or crocus is that we have an unconscious urge for summer to come so we can mow our lawn at 7:00 a.m. on a Saturday morning to avenge our neighbor for blowing his snow into our driveway.

Psychologists come up with cool explanations for things.

Yet, while we may be excited about spring because we’re looking forward to summer, that doesn’t fully answer our robin question. Yes, kids get “spring fever” and can’t wait for summer vacation. But they’re also excited about the first day of school, and buying new pencils and clothes.

If you think about it, we get excited about new things – even if they’re things we dread. Parents can’t wait to wake their kids up to see the first snowfall of the season – even if they hate winter. We point out the first dandelion we see in the yard – even if we moan about all the dandelions in the yard by the end of June.

But imagine it’s mid-summer and you’re driving a car full of people – with me in the back seat. Suddenly I shout, “Whoa! Stop! Did you see that?”

Everyone immediately stares out the window, as if they might get their first glimpse of a brontosaurus, or something.

“Over there! Do you see that maple tree out there in the field?”

Everyone says, “Yes?” (still hoping there might be a brontosaurus behind it.)

“Can’t you see it? That maple tree has leaves on it!”

Now, I always point out the first leaves of the year, but if I still got ecstatic about seeing leaves on a tree in mid-July, I would have to roam the hallways of nursing homes and hand out free denture cream in order to find a friend.

Robins and leaves are always lovely, but by summer they’re no longer news. “News” is exciting because it is new.

A pastor once told me to imagine a sparrow flying to a granite mountain once a year to sharpen its beak. The time it takes the sparrow to wear down the mountain . . .that’s how long eternity is.

He might be right, but thinking of heaven in terms of duration unnerves me. I think of the Riverside Baptist choir standing on a cloud and singing “Michael, Row the Boat Ashore” for the nineteen billionth time . . . and the sparrow can’t get them to shut up!

When God showed John a revelation of heaven, he didn’t show him something that was long, he showed him something that was new.

Heaven, I believe, will always be new.

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