Tag Archives: courage

The Secret Weapon

Story of the Day for Thursday September 27, 2012

The Secret Weapon

 

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

                                                                               1 Samuel 17:24

 

 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 Harbor” was 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.

(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre) 

 

Two Swords Among Them

Story of the Day for Saturday Sept. 15, 2012 

                Two Swords Among Them

 

                 So on the day of battle none of the people, except Saul and Jonathan, had a sword or spear in his hand. 

                                                                                              1 Samuel 13:22

 

Adolf Hitler was furious.

As the Third Reich trampled over the nations of Europe, Hitler offered Great Britain terms of peace, in exchange for surrender. When they refused to capitulate, Hitler ordered his military commanders to prepare for the invasion of England. In a top-secret letter, Hitler wrote, “Since England, despite its militarily hopeless situation, still has not shown any signs of being prepared to negotiate, I have decided to prepare a landing operation against England.”

Hitler was almost right about England’s “hopeless situation.” How, exactly, did the British intend to defend their homeland against the juggernaut of the German army? In those early days, when the Nazis prepared to pound the Brits into submission, English citizens stood on the eastern coast, armed only with hunting rifles, pitchforks, and, in some cases, golf clubs.

 

The Philistines, the perennial enemies of Israel, had developed a super-weapon: iron. The Philistines guarded their new technology so tightly that the Bible says there wasn’t a single blacksmith in all of Israel. “Otherwise,” the Philistines reasoned, “the Hebrews will make swords or spears.”

When the Philistines prepared to march into Israel, they were armed – not only with swords and spears, but with 30,000 chariots and 6000 horsemen, and foot soldiers “like the sand on the seashore.”  The Israelites managed to cobble together a militia of 600 men – with two swords among them.

 

So, what do you do when your days seem so dark and your situation hopeless?  Many simply cave in to depression and despair. They give up.

But the Lord reminds us that “the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong.”  When times seem bleak, we place our lives in God’s hands, suck up our courage, and refuse to give in to fear.

 

During the war, Winston Churchill spoke to the students at Harrow School. He recalled the Battle of Britain, and how “we were quite alone, desperately alone . . .” And then he reminded them that “We were poorly armed.”

“You cannot tell from appearances how things will go,” Churchill told them. “But for everyone, surely . . . this is the lesson: never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never – in nothing great or small, large or petty – never give in . . .”

 

German bombers pulverized the city of London, but the British refused to surrender, and, in the end, the plucky Englishmen hung their pitchforks back in their sheds and slammed their nine irons back into their golf bags.

 

The Philistine army was routed, and that small band of unsophisticated Hebrews stood victorious on the field of battle.

Do you believe that, in seemingly hopeless situations, the Lord is still at work? Then never give up. Never, never, never, never.

(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre) 

 

Audacity and High Praise

Story of the Day for Thursday August 23, 2012 

 

Audacity and High Praise

 

                  Jesus said to her, “O woman, how great is you faith! Your request is granted.” 

                                                               Matthew 15:28

 

 

John Wayne rose to become one of Hollywood’s greatest stars because he kicked his director in the mud.

In 1927, Wayne was a student at USC and worked as an assistant prop boy and occasional extra at Fox Studios. When director, John Ford, decided to make a movie about the football rivalry between Army and Navy, he asked John Wayne to help him recruit football players.

Sol Wurtzel, the producer, offered to pay the football players seventy-five dollars a week, but Wayne, seeking to be modest, suggested they be paid fifty dollars.

But Wurtzel was not impressed. “Congratulations!” the producer responded with derision, “You just screwed yourself out of twenty-five bucks a week.”

 

John Wayne, apparently, reflected on how he should respond to his superiors. During the filming of the movie, the famous director, John Ford, objected to the way John Wayne lined up in his three-point stance. Ford told Wayne to get in his stance and then kicked Wayne’s arm out and sent him sprawling on the ground.

John Wayne then asked the director to demonstrate the correct football position. As Ford got down into a three-point stance, John Wayne kicked him into the mud.

The director found Wayne’s chutzpah hilarious and immediately took a liking to the brash young man.

 

After the movie was completed, John Wayne began to find more acting roles in Grade B Westerns, but his career was going nowhere.

In 1938, John Ford took Wayne for a cruise on his yacht, Araner. Ford asked Wayne to read the script for Stagecoach and suggest someone to play the lead role of the Ringo Kid. Ford’s financial backers were pressuring the director to hire Gary Cooper for the lead role.  But, after Ford concluded his cutting jibes about Wayne’s stagnant career, he said, “Duke, I want you to play the Ringo Kid.”

Stagecoach was a hit and catapulted John Wayne from obscurity to Hollywood stardom – and all because John Wayne had the nerve to “dish it back” to a famous director.

 

A pagan woman once pleaded with Jesus to heal her daughter. At first, Jesus didn’t even respond to her.  She started following Jesus and his disciples, shouting out for help. When Jesus finally speaks to her, it is to explain that he was only sent to the lost sheep of Israel.

The woman is not about to take no as an answer. She catches up to him and kneels at his feet and pleads for help.

“It’s not good to take the children’s bread,” Jesus says, “and give it to the dogs.”

“True, Lord,” she counters, “but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters table.”

 

I don’t think you’re supposed to argue with the Lord, and I have a hard time thinking of faith as spunky. But I do know that Jesus rewarded the pagan woman’s audacity with both high praise . . . and the granting of her request.

(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre) 

 

 

A Ragtag Militia

Story of the Day for Wednesday July 4, 2012

A Ragtag Militia  

 

                    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 might 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)

 

 

 

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)

He Did It Anyway

He Did It Anyway

 

                   Jesus said to the man, “Hold out your hand.” And when he held it out, his hand was healed. Immediately, the Pharisees, along with the Herodians, went out and discussed plans on how they could put Jesus to death.  

                                                                                         Mark 3:5

 

Back in the 1950s, when we lived in Kalkaska, Michigan, my dad would travel to work in a nearby town. Mrs. McCurdy, who worked in the same building, would park her big Buick in a No Parking zone.

No one seemed to mind Mrs. McCurdy’s bad habit. But, one day, my dad decided to play a joke on her. He went to a police officer he knew and asked if he would give a ticket to Mrs. McCurdy. The officer thought this was a delightful idea, and gave dad a blank parking ticket.

Dad filled it out and put it on Mrs. McCurdy’s windshield. The police officer then turned the joke on dad by saying, “And now I’m arresting you for impersonating a police officer!”

The judge was duly informed of the joke on Mrs. McCurdy. When she found the ticket she immediately reported to the judge. The judge, with a twinkle in his eye, said, “I find you guilty. Your sentence is to kiss the judge every morning before you go to work.” Mrs. McCurdy said, “I’d rather go to jail!”

 

How times have changed. There was a day when people were free to laugh and pull harmless pranks, and the stories are still being told.

Today, the police officer and my dad would be smacked with million dollar lawsuits. The judge would be arrested and charged with sexual harassment, and the police department would be under investigation for refusing to ticket a woman who daily parked in a prohibited zone.

Don’t get me wrong: rogue cops and sexual harassment are real offenses that must be firmly dealt with. But we know that no one would dare play a harmless joke like this in our day.  Even though this joke brought great mirth to my dad, the police officer, the judge, and Mrs. McCurdy, we would never dream of doing the same thing today because we’re terrified we would be punished by lawsuits.

 

Jesus lived in a legalistic society. Penalties were often severe for minor infractions of the law.  What could be more compassionate than to find a man in church with a deformed hand and to heal him? But, because Jesus’ miracle was considered “work”, and because work was forbidden on the Sabbath, the gospel of Mark says the religious leaders joined forces with the politicians to find a way to put Jesus to death.

Jesus’ healing was not simply an act of compassion; it was an act of courage.

 

Just as Jesus lived in a legalistic society, so do we. We know that the more we become involved in helping others, the more we risk being severely punished in the form of lawsuits. A generation ago, all you needed to help others was a caring heart. Today, you also need courage.

I’m not going to tell you what you should do. The threat of lawsuits is real. But we do need to understand that, sometimes, Christ-like love is compassion combined with courage.

Jesus knew the danger of healing a man on the Sabbath day.

But he did it anyway.

(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

The Biblical View of Sledding

Story of the Day for Monday December 26, 2011

The Biblical View of Sledding

                  So David took the spear and water jug from next to Saul’s head, and they left.

                                                            1 Samuel 26:12

When Tim and Irene Martin invited our church youth group to a sledding party, we thought it would be fun. But we soon learned the important distinction between fun and crazy.

The Martins lived at Star Meadows, high up in the mountains of Montana, and after we parked our cars along the roadside, our adventure began by sledding uphill.

Tim tied a heavy rope to the back of his four-wheel drive. We would sit on our sleds, hang onto the rope, and he would gun his rig – taking us on a wild ride up his long driveway. As we rounded a bend, the centrifugal force threw Lauren off her sled and I ran over her, but we found her still breathing, so the party was successful so far.

Once we got to the top things got interesting. Tim expected us to go sledding down the mountain back to the road. We pointed out to him that there were a lot of big trees on his very steep mountainside, but he failed to comprehend the significance of this.

While we tried to think of a Bible verse that talked about prudence, Tim’s dad came out of the house. He was a retired medical doctor, so everyone still called him Doc.

“Hey, Doc,” one of the kids said, “you come out to watch us?”

Doc looked hurt. “No,” he said, “I came to go sledding!”

I hasten to point out that Doc Martin was 83 years old at the time, so we laughed at his joke. But, it turned out that Doc wasn’t joking. He sat on his sled and we listened to him whooping it up as he disappeared down the mountain.

When Saul was king of Israel, he was intent on killing the young warrior, David. When men reported David’s whereabouts to Saul, the king gathered 3000 chosen men to pursue him.

David’s scouts reported that Saul was after him, so he went out to investigate and saw where Saul was camped for the night.

Somehow, David got it into his head that he wanted to sneak into Saul’s camp and asked which of his leaders wanted to join him. Abishai, who couldn’t think of a Bible verse about prudence, agreed to join him.

That night, David and Abishai snuck past 3000 of Saul’s best soldiers, and stole Saul’s spear and water jug that was lying beside the king’s head.

You can’t deny that David and Abishai were daring, but what’s the point? Why attempt something so foolhardy? It’s not as if David had to do this.

David did this because he was David. He didn’t have an onoff switch to regulate his courage.

Careening down a mountainside on a sled doesn’t sound like an overly biblical thing to do. But it’s practice – practice for the day when the Lord will call on us to suppress our fears to do something valiant in his name. And, since only Luke broke a bone, it wasn’t nearly as bad as we originally thought it would be.

No one has ever accused the Martin family of being sane. But, no matter – they have taught us the glory of stealing spears and water jugs.

And the importance of memorizing Bible verses about prudence.

                                              (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

Pressing On When Your Knees Shake

Story of the Day for Tuesday July 26, 2011

Pressing On When Your Knees Shake

                       I came to you in weakness and in fear and in a lot of trembling. 

                                                                     1 Corinthians 2:3

We tend to think of courage as the absence of fear.   Those who face danger without fear are not courageous, but stupid.

An old man once took some young men fishing on one of the Great Lakes.  The old man kept looking off to the west and frowning.  After a while he told them that he was going to head the boat back because a storm was heading their way.

One young man said, “We don’t need to go back now.  We’re not afraid.”

The old man shot back, “You’re too ignorant to be afraid.”

 

The apostle Paul was a man of great courage.  Despite much opposition and persecution, he was undaunted in his mission.  He had the dubious habit of speaking about Jesus and starting riots, and getting into a lot of trouble.

Paul was bold, but not fearless.  Although he was called to proclaim the Good News of Jesus in many places, he appears to be a good debater, but not an exceptional speaker.  He mentions his lack of eloquence, and admits he came to the people in the city of Corinth with “fear and a lot of trembling.”

 

We don’t think of people who are shaking in fear as courageous, do we?  One of Napoleon’s commanders, Marshall Ney, would tremble so violently before battle that he had trouble mounting a horse. Yet, Napoleon repeatedly referred to Ney as the bravest man he ever knew.  Ney was scared, but he never let that stop him.  Once, before battle, he shouted, “Shake away, knees!  You would shake worse than that if you knew where I am going to take you.”

 

Maria Schell was a German actress who began her career with stage fright. When she was seventeen, “I came to the theater on the eve of the opening,” she recalled, “and I saw my name being posted in big letters.”

Suddenly, she was overwhelmed with a sinking feeling, as she realized she was expected to be, in her words, “very, very good.” Maria felt paralyzed.

On opening night she told her mother she had a fever and wanted to stay home in bed. Her mother would have nothing of it. Maria said she never forgot her mother’s counsel: “If you cannot be good, then you must have the courage to be bad.”

 

The Lord did not call Paul to be an eloquent speaker; he called him to be faithful – to boldly speak about Jesus – even he if wasn’t good.  Sometimes, we have to do the right thing, even if we’re not very good at it.

Courage is not about eliminating your fears.  It’s about pressing on when your knees shake.  Eddie Rickenbacker, the World War II flying ace said it well, “Courage is doing what you’re afraid to do.  There can be no courage unless you’re scared.”

                                         (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre

Stand Your Ground

Story of the Day for  Monday and Tuesday July 11-12, 2011

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)