Tag Archives: faith

Could You Do It Again?

Story of the Day for Saturday September 29, 2012 

Could You Do It Again?

 

                The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.” And the Lord replied, “If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you could tell this mulberry tree to be uprooted and planted in the sea, and it would obey you.”

                                                                                             Luke 9:23

 

 Bob Teague, the live correspondent for WNBC-TV was assigned to report on an archery demonstration in Central Park. In his book, Live and Off-Color: News Biz, Teague describes what happened that day.

TV reporters from various networks gathered to watch the archer Darrell Pace. He put on quite a show – shooting steel-tipped hunting arrows with flawless accuracy.

Then Pace asked for a volunteer. “All you have to do,” he explained, “is hold this apple in your hand, waist-high.” Josh Howell, the ABC correspondent stepped forward.

Pace walked 90 feet away, and turned to face Howell. Everyone held their breath as Pace took aim, and . . . THWACK! – a perfect hit exploded the apple in his hand.

As the crowd applauded, Howell, greatly relieved, was all smiles. Then his cameraman came up to him and said, “I’m sorry, Josh, I didn’t get it. Had a problem with my viewfinder. Could you do it again?”

 

You don’t need a lot of faith to hold an apple and let an archer blast it out of your hand. What you need is a very good archer.

 

When Darrell Pace was old enough to get his driver’s license, he was already competing on the U.S. Archery team in the world championships. By the age of 18, he became the world champion archer and held 16 of the 20 archery records.

From 60 feet away, Pace can group fifteen consecutive arrows into a bulls-eye no bigger than a quarter. He has won six national archery championships – along with two world titles and two Olympic gold medals.

 

Our relationship with Jesus should not be centered around the size of our faith. Instead, it should be focused on the size of our God.

Look at it this way: I own a bow. At 90 feet I can often hit the target, and occasionally hit the bulls-eye. But I am erratic.

So, tell me, who is more likely to have his hand shattered by an arrow: a volunteer with an enormous faith in me, or a volunteer with a tentative faith in Darrell Pace?

The life of discipleship is not primarily about inventing gimmicks to boost our faith; it is about looking to the faithfulness of the One we place our faith in.

 

I admire Josh Howell’s courage to hold that apple. But, I’ll tell you this: if Howell was not already acutely aware of Pace’s awesome ability, he’s not a model of faith; he’s an idiot.

(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

Does God Invite Ants to Your Picnic?

Story of the Day for Tuesday August 14, 2012 

 

Does God Invite Ants to Your Picnic?

 

                          Job replied, “. . . Shall we accept good from God, but not trouble?”

                                                                                Job 2:10

 

 

On June 13, 1883, the little town of Mystic, Connecticut, was flooded with reporters from the biggest newspapers in New England: the New York Times, the Boston Globe, the New London Daily, Providence Journal, New York Herald, and many others.

The estimates of the crowd ranged from 5,000 to 12,000. They had come to Mystic to witness the unveiling of a statue honoring those who had fought in the Civil War.

 

The festivities got off to a slow start because the train from New London – which carried the governor and other dignitaries, was late.

Then the grandstands, which had been erected to accommodate the crowds for the occasion, collapsed.

When the granite statue was to be unveiled, cannons stood ready to deliver a 38-gun salute (in tribute to the 39 states in the Union).  But when those manning the cannon battery noticed the state governor approaching, they abruptly changed plans and decided to deliver their 38-gun salute to him instead.

The cannons were loaded with blanks, but the timing could hardly have been more unfortunate. Civil War veterans were marching down the street to the monument. As the cannons roared their approval of the governor, the first three ranks of soldiers were mowed down. Burning powder lacerated their faces and scorched their uniforms. One officer was severely injured and another soldier’s leg badly bruised.

 

The former Civil War general, Joseph R. Hawley delivered a stirring speech which rattled on for forty minutes, and then the famished crowds were treated to a lavish meal served up by the ladies of Mystic. But a sudden downpour scattered the crowds, and the joyous day came to a fitting conclusion.

 

Have you ever had a day like this?

I knew a man who claimed that, if you really trust God, you won’t experience bad things. He boasted that, since he began a certain spiritual discipline, he had never had a flat tire. I had been practicing the same discipline for years, and I had flat tires.

 

Maybe I didn’t have enough faith. But, then again, maybe he was wrong.

When we live the way God invites us to, we, obviously, avoid many unnecessary troubles.  But, once we get it into our heads that God’s mission is to keep the ants away at our picnics, we are priming ourselves for disappointment.

This darkened planet is not a luxury resort but a battleground. The Lord is looking for faith, but faith in something far bigger than whether or not our tires go flat.

I hope that guy with good tires enjoys his share of flats. Keep in mind that I say this – not out of meanness, but in the interests of theology.

(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre) 
 

Faith Trumps Daydreams

Story of the Day for Tuesday July 3, 2012

 

Faith Trumps Daydreams

                   We remember the words of our Lord Jesus: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” 

                                                    Acts 20:35

 

 What would it take for you to be happy and fulfilled?

If I were a betting man, I would guess it has something to do with money. (And the very fact I refer to betting suggests my focus is on gaining money.)

 

In 1913, Marion was born into a dream. She was raised in a Hungarian castle — attended by maids, butlers, governesses, and chauffeurs. When her family traveled, they brought their own linen, because using the bed sheets of the common people was below their dignity.

In Vienna, Marion met the movie director Otto Preminger, and soon they were married. They moved to southern California where Preminger’s career took off, and the couple basked in fame. Marion ascended the social ranks as a prominent Hollywood glamour queen with the wealth to feed her obsession for high living and the latest fashions.

When I imagine happiness, it harmonizes with Marion Preminger’s life: butlers serving hors d’oeuvres in my castle, or movie stars bidding for my attention.

 

But Marion wasn’t happy. She began to drown under the influence of alcohol and drugs, and the numerous affairs between her and her husband shattered their marriage. Depressed and desperate, Marion became suicidal.

Preminger fled from her broken life and returned to Europe — hoping to rise as a Parisian socialite.

 

As a little girl, she had heard stories of Albert Schweitzer, a world-renowned theologian and organist who retreated to Africa to serve the poor.  One day, she learned that Schweitzer was making a return visit to Europe and would be in Gunsbach in northeastern France. Preminger sought out Dr. Schweitzer and found him playing the organ in the village church.

After dinner at his house, Schweitzer invited Marion to come to Lambarene and join in the work at the African hospital.

The girl who had been raised in a castle, who had been pampered and spoiled, now found herself bathing babies, changing bedpans, and feeding lepers. In her autobiography, All I Want Is Everything, Marion says of Schweitzer: “I thank God he allowed me to become a helper, and in helping, I found everything.”

 

My daydreams and my faith don’t always get along. I blissfully dream of how happy I’d be with a bigger house and season tickets to Packers games. I never fantasize about finding fulfillment by changing bedpans.

But faith trumps daydreams. Life isn’t about how much we get but how much we give. Jesus had it right: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

Two Bridges

Story of the Day for Thursday June 14, 2012

Two Bridges

                      The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.” 

                And the Lord responded, “If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and plant yourself in the sea’ and it would obey you.”

                                                 Luke 17:5-6

 

I’m going to ask you a question in just a moment. It’s not a trick question, but most Christians answer it wrong, while those who aren’t particularly religious tend to give the right answer.

 

You and a friend go for a walk and come to a raging river. Since it’s impossible to swim across it, you look along the bank, and spot two bridges.

The first bridge is buttressed on both ends with thick concrete. Massive steel girders span the river, which have been overlaid with thick oak planks. It looks like you could drive a tank over it.

The other bridge is an oddity. It’s constructed out of cardboard and fastened together with duct tape. The light rain the night before has left the cardboard sagging somewhat, but it is, nevertheless, a bridge.

Your friend asks, “What bridge you gonna to take?”

“What! You’re joking, right? I’m taking the steel bridge.”

You soon discover your friend isn’t joking. “I’m taking the cardboard bridge,” he says.

As your friend starts out across the sagging cardboard bridge, he doesn’t have the slightest concern about its strength. He’s humming a song as he boldly strides across.

You, on the other hand, are unnerved. Your palms begin to sweat and you notice there’s a tremor in your hands. Thinking it will help to better disperse your weight, you begin to crawl across the steel bridge.

 

So, here’s the question. Who will make it safely to the other side: the person with the strong faith or the person with the weak faith?

I’ve asked this question dozens of times, and, invariably, Christians tend to blurt out, “The person with the strong faith.”

Wrong answer. The person who will make it safely across the river is you, with the weak faith. Your friend may have a strong faith, but it is faith in a weak bridge incapable of holding a person’s weight. You, on the other hand, may have a weak faith, but as long as it is in a strong bridge, you will make it safely to the other side.

 

Jesus’ followers asked him to increase their faith – and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that. But Jesus knew they were looking at things from the wrong perspective. Ultimately, it’s not how much faith you have that matters; it’s what you have your faith in that counts.

Even a weak faith, a faith as tiny as a mustard seed, can do great things if it’s placed in the true source of power and strength.

      (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

 

 

 

 

 

Called God’s Friend

Story of the Day for Friday May 11, 2012

Called God’s Friend

                     And he calls his own sheep by name.

                                                        John 10:3

 

I sometimes dream of an idyllic world where I take my car to an auto mechanic and he says, “Excuse me, but have we met before?” Unfortunately, my car guys call me by my first name, and if things get any worse we’ll be exchanging Christmas cards.

 

This morning my wife took our van into town to have the tires changed (in Montana studded tires are legal — but only until the end of May). I loaded the summer tires into the back of the van and sent her on her way. A couple of hours later, I got a phone call. The car guys told me I had the wrong size tires.

I found the right ones, drove the pickup down Pinkham Mountain, and brought them to my friendly car guy.

“Oh, hi Marty. It’s about time you brought the right tires.”

“So,” I asked Joey, “how long you think it’ll take to switch ’em?”

“Oh, give me a break!” he said. “First, I’m sittin’ around here waiting on you, and now you want to know how soon I’ll be done!”

I told him to quit his whining and made a veiled insinuation that the service industry was going to the dogs.

It was a gratifying moment. He felt comfortable enough to give me a hard time and I felt free enough to dish it back, and we both had a good laugh.

Can you imagine what would happen if Joey talked like that to a perfect stranger? The offended customer would’ve complained to the owner and Joey would now be selling herbal cures for hair loss on the internet.

When we know someone, we treat them differently than we do strangers.

 

If you want to get lost in a nameless crowd, you can’t do better than becoming a sheep. Gaze at a flock of sheep they all look like identical bags of wool.

But not to a shepherd. Shepherds in Palestine can distinguish every sheep in their flock and give names to each one. When a shepherd leads his flock to new pastures he can call them all by name.

When we trust in Jesus, our relationship changes. We’re no longer strangers. We belong to him, not because of  how fast we can walk, but simply because when he calls our name we trust him enough to follow.

 

Once Abraham got into a “disagreement” with God. When God told Abraham he intended to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah because of their wickedness, Abraham kept bargaining with God not to do it. I always felt Abraham was a little cheeky doing that.

But over the years I’m beginning to realize that Abraham could talk the way he did — not because he was disrespectful — but because he knew God so well. He was bold because of his faith.

No wonder the Bible says of Abraham: “and he was called God’s friend.”

(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)


As Far As the Headlights

Story of the Day for Friday April 27, 2012

As Far As Your Headlights

When God called Abraham, by faith he obeyed and went . . . even though he didn’t know where he was going. . . Abraham was looking forward to the city with foundations — where God was the architect and builder.
Hebrews 11:8,10

In Egypt, Israel groaned under the lash of slavery. They longed for freedom, but God promised them far more than an escape from slavery; he promised to lead them to a land “dripping with milk and honey.”

The path to the Promised Land, however, led through a trackless wilderness. God told them the destination, but only He knew the route. As the days wore on they lost sight of the goal. They no longer strode toward their dream; they trudged.

Once they forgot their destination, they became demoralized and demanded that Moses lead them back to Egypt — even if that meant a return to slavery.

When we forget where we’re going, turning back to where we used to be is far more comfortable.

When I came down with strep throat, my doctor would gave me antibiotics. He cautioned me to continue taking the pills until they were all gone. But after a few days I would start feeling perky again, and would quit taking them.

Recently, I’ve been cheered to learn I have comrades. The most common problem in fighting resistant bacteria is patients who quit taking the full course of antibiotics once they start feeling better.

The medical community sought help with this problem from, of all people, Rory Sutherland — a marketing guru from an advertising agency. His solution was simple: “Don’t give them twenty-four white pills,” he advised. “Give them twenty white pills and four blue ones, and tell them to take the blue pills after they’ve finished the white ones.”

Even though the blue pills were no different — other than color — it worked. Instead of taking pills until they felt better, patients focused on the pills at the end of the process — those four blue pills.

When God called Abraham to leave his home and travel to a new land, the Bible says Abraham didn’t know where he was going. He didn’t know where he’d pitch his tent the next day. He didn’t need to. Abraham saw that the journey’s end would lead him home to God. Abraham saw the destination and trusted in the mercy of God to get him there. And that’s why he never turned back.

When you see the goal, you can walk without seeing what’s around the bend. Life is a lot like novelist E. L. Doctorow’s description of completing a book. “Writing a novel,” he says, “is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”

(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

What’s Going to Happen Next?

Story of the Day for Friday March 2, 2012

What’s Going to Happen Next?

                   If serving the Lord isn’t desirable to you, then choose right now whom you will serve . . . 

                                                      Joshua 24:15

Researchers Daniel Goldstein and Eric J. Johnson noticed that several European countries had nearly 100 percent of its citizens voluntarily participating in an organ donor program. Other countries had very few signed up to donate their organs.

Why would some countries have such a high percentage of organ donors while other countries had so few? What do you think?

Most people would conclude that the disparity between the percentage of organ donors is due to culture. If most citizens of a country felt that organ donation was unnatural or banned by one’s religion, that would explain the difference.

But that’s not the reason. Countries sharing similar cultures show a marked contrast. For example, in Sweden 86% signed up for the organ donor program; in Denmark next door, only 4% have done the same. Germany has only 12%, while Austria has almost 100% participation. The Netherlands (after writing to every household in the nation pleading with them to join the organ donor program) has 28%. Belgium, which borders the Netherlands, has 98% of its citizens signed up in an organ donor program.

The stark contrast by nation in organ donor participation can be explained by the Department of Motor Vehicles. When  citizens from Denmark, Germany, or the Netherlands renew their drivers licenses, they are asked to check a box if they want to become an organ donor. In Sweden, Austria, and Belgium, drivers are asked to check a box if they DON’T want to become an organ donor.

Both groups tend not to check the box.

The more important an issue becomes, the more we become reluctant to make a decision.

 

We don’t make decisions to believe. We either believe in the Easter Bunny or we don’t.  We either believe or don’t believe that grass grows or that God exists.

But once we believe anything, we must daily make decisions based on what we believe to be true — whether it’s hiding our own Easter eggs, mowing the lawn, or praying.

When God’s people were returning to the Promised Land, Joshua gathered the people at Shechem, and he told them the story of what God had done for them. Joshua reminded them of how the Lord led their forefathers, how God worked with power to liberate them from their slavery in Egypt.

After Joshua convinced the people of the steadfast care of the God of Israel, he called for them to decide: “Choose this day whom you will serve.”

 

Faith comes first; then decision. You must first believe that diet contributes to good health before you decide to cut down on the lardburgers and fries.

Once you believe in the beauty of the life that Jesus lays before you, you must decide what’s going to happen next.

                                                        (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

Laughter Giving Way to a Growing Tummy

Story of the Day for Friday February 24, 2012

Laughter Giving Way to a Growing Tummy

                 Sarah was listening at the tent entrance . . .and Sarah laughed . . .

                          Genesis 18:10, 12

In August 1975, three men attempted to rob the Royal Bank of Scotland at Rothesay, but, trying to push the revolving doors the wrong way, got stuck. The bank staff kindly extricated them, and, after mumbling their thanks, the robbers sheepishly left.

They returned shortly afterward to announce they were robbing the bank, and demanded five thousand pounds. The staff, still tickled by the revolving door incident, thought the robbers were pulling another practical joke, so they started laughing.

Disheartened by their laughter, the gang leader reduced his demand to five hundred pounds – and this brought a fresh roar of laughter. Nervous and confused, he reduced the demand to fifty pounds, and by this time the cashier was laughing hysterically.

Apparently to demonstrate the seriousness of their demand, one of them jumped over the counter, but fell and hurt his ankle. The other two panicked and ran . . . and got stuck in the revolving doors again.

It took a moment for the bank tellers to realize that the robbery was real.

 

At the beginning of the Revolutionary War, the British occupied Boston. On January 8, 1776, officers and their ladies packed Faneuil Hall to watch a musical farce entitled The Blockade.  The comedy mocked the ragtag American army. An actor, impersonating George Washington, stumbled onto the stage with an oversized wig and rusty sword.

As the comedy got off to a rollicking start, Major Thomas Knowlton and his Connecticut soldiers launched a surprise attack. Everyone in the theater, however, thought the roar of the cannon barrage outside was part of the play.

A farmer ran on stage to announce that the rebels were attacking, and the audience roared and clapped their approval. The moment became confused as it slowly dawned on everyone that the announcement of the surprise attack was genuine and not part of the farce.

 

Whenever God shatters our assumptions, our reactions follow a predictable process. We laugh at the incongruity of it all. Then everything grows fuzzy and confused. And finally we begin to realize God is up to something.

 

When God’s messengers told Abraham that Sarah was going to have a baby, she laughed. At the age of ninety, this news was way too funny. But skepticism gave way to confusion, which gave way to a growing tummy with something kicking in there.

They named the child Isaac, which means “Laughter.”

 

When skeptics laugh at you and mock your faith, take it as a reassuring compliment. They are acknowledging you believe something so wild, so unthinkable, that only God could pull it off.

 

 

 

 

Rock Lobbing Talents

Story of the Day for Thursday December 8, 2011

Rock Lobbing Talents

                I can do all things through the One who gives me strength. 

                                                                           Philippians 4:13

George Dantzig greatest achievement came about because he was late for class.

While taking a graduate-level statistics class at the University of California, Berkeley, he got to class late, but managed to copy down the homework assignment on the board.

George worked on his homework assignment, but found it tough going. But he finally completed the assignment, and handed it in to his professor, Jerzy Neyman.

Six weeks later, George was awakened one morning with a knock on the door. “It was Neyman,” Dantzig recalled, “He rushed in with papers in hand, all excited.” Professor Neyman wanted to immediately send Dantzig’s work for publication. Dantzig had no idea what his professor was talking about. The problems on the blackboard that he had solved, Neyman told him, were in fact two famous unsolved problems in statistics.”

Now, how was Dantzig able to solve these two baffling problems? He was certainly intelligent, but so were all the other scientists, professors, and students who were stymied by these problems. But, George Dantzig had one advantage over the others: no one told him that it couldn’t be done.

 

Henry Ford once said, “Whether you think you can or can’t, you’re right.”

 

Now, obviously, Mr. Ford’s statement is not a universal truth. If you believe you can snort my Ford pickup up your nose, that doesn’t mean you can. Conversely, if I don’t believe I’ll see an elk while hunting tomorrow, that doesn’t mean I won’t.

We Christians are often leery about talking of faith in what we can do, and rightly so.  Anything that fosters the notion that, if we believe in ourselves, we can work our way into God’s good favor is an abomination.  For starters, we can’t. And, secondly, the mistaken notion that we might be able to earn God’s love destroys the truth that you can never earn God’s love. God’s already loves us despite our most miserable failures.

 

All that said, a little shepherd boy did what no soldier in Israel’s army dared: he believed he could defeat Goliath, and offered to do so. But, he had practiced hard to achieve mastery with his slingshot. Yet, he chose five smooth stones because he knew the first one might not find its mark.

Did this little squirt have confidence in his abilities? I think so. But, ultimately, David’s faith was not in himself, but in what God could do through him. Yes, God could’ve worked unilaterally and conked Goliath on the head with a thunderbolt – without David’s assistance. David, however, believed that God would utilize his rock lobbing talents to win this victory. And God would get the glory.

God is at work in this world. But he delights in working through his children . . . children that believe in a God who can do beautiful things through them.

                                          (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

Does God Invite Ants to Your Picnic?

Story of the Day for Wednesday August 24, 2011

Does God Invite Ants to Your Picnic?

                           Job replied, “. . . Shall we accept good from God, but not trouble?”

                                                                                  Job 2:10

 On June 13, 1883, the little town of Mystic, Connecticut, was flooded with reporters from the biggest newspapers in New England: the New York Times, the Boston Globe, the New London Daily, Providence Journal, New York Herald, and many others.

The estimates of the crowd ranged from 5,000 to 12,000. They had come to Mystic to witness the unveiling of a statue honoring those who had fought in the Civil War.

The festivities got off to a slow start because the train from New London – which carried the governor and other dignitaries, was late.

Then the grandstands, which had been erected to accommodate the crowds for the occasion, collapsed.

When the granite statue was to be unveiled, cannons stood ready to deliver a 38-gun salute (in tribute to the 39 states in the Union).  But when those manning the cannon battery noticed the state governor approaching, they abruptly changed plans and decided to deliver their 38-gun salute to him instead.

The cannons were loaded with blanks, but the timing could hardly have been more unfortunate. Civil War veterans were marching down the street to the monument. As the cannons roared their approval of the governor, the first three ranks of soldiers were mowed down. Burning powder lacerated their faces and scorched their uniforms. One officer was severely injured and another soldier’s leg badly bruised.

The former Civil War general, Joseph R. Hawley delivered a stirring speech which rattled on for forty minutes, and then the famished crowds were treated to a lavish meal served up by the ladies of Mystic. But a sudden downpour scattered the crowds, and the joyous day came to a fitting conclusion.

Have you ever had a day like this?

I knew a man who claimed that, if you really trust God, you won’t experience bad things. He boasted that, since he began a certain spiritual discipline, he had never had a flat tire. I had been practicing the same discipline for years, and I had flat tires.

Maybe I didn’t have enough faith. But, then again, maybe he was wrong.

When we live the way God invites us to, we, obviously, avoid many unnecessary troubles.  But, once we get it into our heads that God’s mission is to keep the ants away at our picnics, we are priming ourselves for disappointment.

This darkened planet is not a luxury resort but a battleground. The Lord is looking for faith, but faith in something far bigger than whether or not our tires go flat.

I hope that guy with good tires enjoys his share of flats. Keep in mind that I say this – not out of meanness, but in the interests of theology.

                                                                 (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)