Tag Archives: details

Pay Attention to the Signs

Story of the Day for Thursday May 17, 2012

Pay Attention to the Signs

                 I will listen to what God, the Lord, will say. For he will speak peace to his people.

                                                          Psalm 85:8

In 1874, Homer Wheeler was an Army officer stationed at Fort Keogh near Miles City, Montana. In his memoirs he describes the tracking abilities of Poor Elk, a Cheyenne scout.

A column of troops was sent out to find some Indians who were reported to have crossed the Yellowstone River not far from their outpost.

The surrounding area had been trampled by buffalo and the grass cropped short by their grazing, so finding their trail would be extremely difficult. Half the column had already ridden past the Indian’s path before Poor Elk noticed their trail.

After following it for a mile, he found where they had camped. He brushed away the ashes from the fires and felt the ground underneath for warmth. After locating the fires he found the pin holes from the tepees. By knowing the size of each tepee he could estimate the number of Indians in the party.

Poor Elk found a moccasin and a piece of cloth that had been thrown away. The moccasin was sewn with thread instead of sinew. This told him they were probably following Sioux, instead of Cheyenne, as they originally supposed. A piece of calico was not the pattern available at the Cheyenne reservation, and a hair braid was the kind the Sioux used to fasten to the scalp lock.

He found where a sweat-lodge had been built – which meant they had stayed in camp for at least an entire day. But the horse droppings showed they had not stayed for more than one day. Further, seeds in horse droppings indicate where the party had come from, and the position of the urine in relation to the hoof prints showed the sex of the horse (the presence of mares indicated it was not a war party, since only women rode mares).

The position of the wickiups and tepees in relation to where the horses were tied – in addition to the care taken in leaving camp was evidence they were not moving in any special hurry.

These Indians, Poor Elk told them, were not Cheyenne, as they suspected, but Sioux, who had recently left an agency. They didn’t cross the Yellowstone at the time reported to them, but two days earlier. Their direction indicated they were probably heading north to join with other Indians north of the Canadian border.

Poor Elk could see what the others could not because he had learned to pay attention to the signs. In the same way, God wants us to pay attention to what he’s doing for us.

The Lord doesn’t bonk us on the head with spiritual truth and wisdom. But he teaches us the way of wholeness, of peace, when we focus our attention on him.

You don’t see much in life unless you learn to look for it.

                                                                   (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

Bean Counters and Dreamers

Story of the Day for Monday November 14, 2011

Bean Counters and Dreamers

                       In Christ we, who are many, form one body, and each part belongs to all the others. 

                                                                          Romans 12:5

 Someone once said there are only three kinds of people in this world: those who are good at math and those who aren’t.

I’m not good at math.

Numbers are confusing, abstract things. I have a difficult time remembering people’s ages – including my own. My wife can recall phone numbers and zip codes from places where we lived over 20 years ago. I struggle, at times, to remember my current zip code. To me, numbers are not all that important.

 

People who are good with numbers feel quite differently.  They actually show compassion through numbering things. A pastor once asked me how many members were in my congregation. I didn’t know. This pained him. “How can you care about your flock if you don’t know how many there are?”

He didn’t understand that I couldn’t number my flock even if I wanted to (which I don’t).  Do you include the Pozanskis – who regularly attend worship, but have never  officially become members?  And what about Jason, whom I’ve never met?  He’s in the military, and moves every few years, but wants his membership to remain here. When I try to number people, I always bog down, and end up with a muddled sum.

 

Some people love numbers and attention to detail. Those of us who are bold visionaries refer to them as “bean counters.” Bean counters, however, can dish it back.  They view us visionaries as impractical, and call us “dreamers.”

So, how do people who approach life in such different ways get along with each other?  The solution is surprisingly simple.  We just round up all the “bean counters” and lure them onto cargo ships with offers of free calculators.  Then we ship them off to a remote jungle in the Amazon basin, and provide them with spreadsheets and those plastic pen protectors you wear in your shirt pocket, and let them lead a happy life.

 

That’s the easy way.  But God has the better way.

God wants us to realize how desperately we need each other’s gifts — as much as the heart needs the lungs and the lungs need the heart.

In the body of Christ, we have people who are brilliant at organizing things.  As strange as it sounds to us Big Picture types, they love working out the details and keeping the trains running on time. Without them, bold visions never become a reality.   Administrator types also need those gifted in leadership.

When we learn to appreciate and value each others gift, good things happen.  Only then will we see the body of Christ being built up.

I can’t locate the exact Bible passage at the moment, but I think there’s a verse that says you should find a brother or sister who has the opposite gift from you, and buy them pizza, and tell them you appreciate them. Or something like that.

                                        (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

 

The Focus of His Affection

Story of the Day for Saturday October 22, 2011

The Focus of His Affection

                      Even the hairs of your head are all numbered. 

                                                                   Luke 12:7

Ted Williams was one of the greatest hitters in the history of baseball. He won six league batting titles and, in a career spanning a couple decades, averaged – averaged! — .344 at the plate.

Williams was meticulous about every aspect of hitting. He would visit lumberyards so he could choose wood with narrow growth rings for his bats. He would weigh his bats on a postal scale in the clubhouse to make sure the humidity had not increased their weight, and was known to bathe them in alcohol to keep them cool.

If a bat didn’t meet his specifications, he would return it. Williams demanded his bats be 33 ounces. An official from the Louisville Slugger company couldn’t believe that Williams could sense such minor differences in weight, so the company official set six bats in front of him, and challenged him to identify the bat that weighed a half an ounce more than the others. He did.

He once set a shipment of bats back to the factory because the handles were too thick. He was right: they measured the grips and they were five thousandths of an inch too large.

 

When we care deeply about something, we pay attention to the smallest details. We’re tuned in to things that others might ignore.

 

Dr. Robert C. Murray, Jr. related an incident in Reader’s Digest. Late one night, he was summoned to the hospital to attend to one of his patients. He tried to quietly slip out of the house, but tripped over a toy in the dark and loudly crashed to the floor. As he lay there, rubbing his sore leg, his wife slept soundly.

Then, their infant made a faint cough in the nursery. His wife immediately leaped out of bed, rushing past her husband as he lay on the floor.

As she returned from the baby’s room she looked at her husband and said, “What on earth are you doing on the floor?”

 

One of the ways that Jesus assures you how deeply he cares about you is by noticing the details. When he tells you he knows the number of hairs on your head, he’s saying that’s how closely he’s focused on you. You are the object of his attention.

 

David wrote a psalm, inviting God to know the details of his life. “Search me, O God, and know my heart. Test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any harmful tendency in me, and lead me in the everlasting way.”

If our standing with God is based on our behavior, our desperate desire is that God would not know us; that we could, somehow, hide from him. But once we understand that we are the focus of his affection, everything changes. He even knows the hairs on our head, but will not turn away his face.

                                                              (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)